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Who is the best player on the Washington roster?

Choosing the “best” of anything is so subjective that it’s largely a futile effort. Best band ever? Creedence Clearwater Revival. Best food? Thai, of course. Best city to live in? Sydney, Australia. I doubt that there’s a person alive who would agree with me on all three of these answers.

When it comes to the best player on a football roster, for some teams there is almost universal agreement, and Washington may be one of those teams at the moment, but even when there’s a high level of consensus, there can be virulent disagreement from some quarters.

I’m going to briefly propose a number of candidates for “best player” on the roster. If you don’t like any of my proposed candidates, then you can take issue in the comments section. There is a poll at the end.

Here’s my list of candidates:

Taylor Heinicke

Just because he was out of football for two years doesn’t mean he isn’t a great quarterback. Just look at the career trajectory of Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner if you need convincing. Heinicke was easily the most exciting quarterback on the roster in his two appearances in burgundy & gold last year.

He went toe to toe with Tom Brady in the playoffs last year and performed better against what may have been the best defense in the NFL than any other quarterback to face Tampa Bay in the playoffs. His gutty and dramatic return to the game after going to the locker room for an injured shoulder is also in important part of the Heinicke legend.

Heinicke showed up to OTAs last week looking like he’d spent every day since that playoff game in the gym. He hasn’t proven that he’s the man yet only because he hasn’t yet had the chance. Just wait till he gets on the field for a few games...he’s gonna open a lot of eyes!

Chase Roullier

NFL: Washington Football Team at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

PFF gave the center the highest pass-blocking grade of all the team’s offensive linemen in 2020. As the center, he has to call the protections for the line, meaning that he has to be cerebral as well as physically dominating. Roullier was drafted in the 6th round and earned the NFL Performance Escalator (a big pay raise in Year 4 of his contract) by becoming a starter midway through his rookie season and never giving up that spot. He played in 16 regular season games and a playoff game last year — 1,161 snaps! He allowed 1 sack, 3 hits, 15 total pressures. PFF graded him the 6th best center in the league a year ago, and the 28-year-old is still getting better.

Kamren Curl

The 7th round pick had an incredible rookie year. Just look at what the coaches asked him to do:

The young man has incredible versatility and talent. PFF rated him #38 among all 2020 NFL safeties, giving him a solid ranking in a group that includes two starting safeties per team at the minimum (Kam himself was an injury replacement).

In 836 defensive snaps, Curl pulled down 3 interceptions — one of those returned for a touchdown. He had 4 passes defended, 2 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 5 QB hits, and 88 tackles. Curl played 73% of the team’s defensive snaps and 30% of the special teams snaps in 2020.

Not bad for a rookie 7th round pick. Can he do even more in 2021?

Logan Thomas

Washington’s starting tight end was one of three Washington players with over 100 targets in 2020. His 670 receiving yards were second most on the Washington Football Team. No other tight end on the roster was targeted more than 3 times or got more than 10 receiving yards on the season.

Thomas led the team with 6 receiving touchdowns — Terry McLaurin was next with 4.

NFL: Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Logan Thomas was 7th in the NFL in receiving yards among tight ends, and 9th in touchdown catches. In fact, he ranked inside the top-30 for all NFL players in TD receptions for the season.

But wait! There’s more. Thomas rushed the ball three times, picking up 2 first downs. He also completed his only pass of the season for 28 yards and a first down, and he had an important fumble recovery.

But statistics don’t do justice to Thomas’s impact on the team. He blocked — always willingly and usually effectively — often being in position to spring Antonio Gibson with a ‘wham’ block as he motioned across the formation.

And once Logan Thomas got the ball in his hands, he didn’t give up until he had gotten every available inch that he could gain. It was common to see Thomas lowering his shoulder and bringing the hit to the defender when there was nowhere left to go — all in an effort to get the most out of every play.

Logan Thomas was the only real weapon the team had at the tight end position in 2020. This season, despite the addition of John Bates, Deon Yelder, Ricky Seals-Jones and Sammis Reyes, Thomas is the unquestioned starter, and will be looking to build on a fantastic foundation he established a year ago.

Brandon Scherff

The list of Washington franchise All Pro players in this century:

  • 2020 Brandon Scherff
Washington Redskins v New Orleans Saints Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

RB duo - Antonio Gibson/JD McKissic

Rushing

As a rookie, playing in just 14 games (a few of them nursing an injury) Gibson put up 795 rushing yards at 4.7 yards per carry, and 436 of those yards (55% of the total) came after contact, which was 2nd among rookies behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Washington Football Team v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Gibson’s 11 rushing touchdowns tied him for 6th in the league among all running backs, and ranked him #1 among all rookie running backs.

Gibson added another 247 receiving yards, giving him 1,042 yards from scrimmage in his rookie season.

Gibson seemed to develop as both a runner and receiver as the season progressed, making him scary to contemplate as a second-year player in an improved offense.

Receiving

JD McKissic was second in the NFL behind Alvin Kamara last season in receptions and receiving yards, but according to PFF, McKissic was a much better pass protector than Kamara, with a blocking grade of 61.7 versus 52.5 for Kamara.

McKissic ran the ball 85 times for 365 yards (4.3 avg), giving him a total of 954 yards and 3 TDs.

Seattle Seahawks v Washington Football Team Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

McKissic also played 11% of the team’s special team snaps a year ago.

Like other players, McKissic’s impact can’t be communicated in raw statistics. He added excitement to the game with his explosiveness and elusiveness. McKissic picked up 25 rushing first-downs and 32 receiving first-downs, meaning that he moved the chains on average, every third time he touched the ball.

His second season in Washington, as part of a more high-powered offense, should be fun to watch.

William Jackson III

William Jackson is new to Washington, but not to the NFL. He calls himself a shutdown cornerback, but then, so do the Washington coaches, who are enthusiastic about what the veteran will add to the defense and how he will enable Jack Del Rio to be more creative.

Jackson received the 34th highest grade from PFF for the 2020 season, but among the 42 cornerbacks who played at least 500 snaps last season, Jackson was 6th in reception % allowed (52.2) and 8th in snaps per reception allowed, giving up just one pass for every 14 coverage snaps played. That was playing on a bad Cincinnati defense. Jackson should be able to accomplish even more in Washington behind the Football Team’s high-powered defensive line.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Jackson is known best as a press man corner, but both he and the Washington coaches agree that he is versatile enough to be an every-down boundary corner who plays man or zone coverage with great effectiveness.

Some people feel that the addition of drafted rookie linebacker Jamin Davis and free agent William Jackson may be enough to move last season’s 5th ranked defense to the top of the NFL in 2021.

Terry McLaurin

In 29 games as a pro, Terry McLaurin has 2,037 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns at 14.0 yards per average.

Terry has accumulated those stats catching passes from Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins, Colt McCoy, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke, and generally without any legitimate receiving threat on the other side of the offense.

New York Giants v Washington Football Team Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Terry is a hard worker, a quiet professional, and a team captain. He exploded on the scene as a rookie, and diligently did what was necessary in one of the NFL’s worst offenses a season ago.

Washington Football Team v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

In 2021, with a new quarterback and his college teammate Curtis Samuel as part of the offense, it may be time for Terry McLaurin to put himself among the elite of the NFL receivers.

Payne/Allen/Ioannidis/Sweat/Settle

With these five gifted players, it’s hard to separate their contributions. Allen is the veteran leader; Sweat is the most athletic; Ioannidis and Payne are each strong as an ox; Settle is full of energy. Together, they dominate the opposition and the strength of the group is greater than the sum of its parts.

NFL: JAN 03 Washington Football Team at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

They can stop the run, rush the passer and set the tone for one of the best defenses in the NFL. No single individual stands out over the rest because every member does his part, but it’s worth noting that, from a statistical standpoint, Montez Sweat was the team sack leader with 9. Further, Sweat had the most tackles for loss with 14, and the most passes defended among the DL with 6. Sweat tied with Payne for the lead in DL interceptions — they had 1 each — but Sweat returned his for a TD (you’ll remember the play against Dallas). Montez Sweat had the best statistical production of all the Washington DL players.

Chase Young

There is one player missing from that defensive line: Chase Young.

In 2020, he won defensive rookie of the year, and his raw stats were pretty impressive, but it was his infectious energy, his clear support for teammates on defense, offense and special teams, and his leadership that got him voted to captain by his teammates in his rookie season that may have really stood out.

Washington Football Team v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It would have been nearly impossible for Chase Young to live up to the incredible expectations that were placed on him last year when he was drafted #2 overall by Washington, but he managed to do it.

Young recorded 7.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. He defended 4 passes, forced 4 fumbles, and recovered 3 fumbles, returning one of them for a touchdown. He did all this while often drawing double-teams from the opposing offense.

Young was a dominating force that made other players around him better.

That was when he was a rookie; now that he knows what to do, he should hit the ground running in 2021 and have an even better season.

Poll

Who is the best player on the Washington roster?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Tress Way
    (126 votes)
  • 2%
    Taylor Heinicke
    (40 votes)
  • 0%
    Chase Roullier
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Kamren Curl
    (13 votes)
  • 0%
    Logan Thomas
    (10 votes)
  • 4%
    Brandon Scherff
    (76 votes)
  • 1%
    Antonio Gibson
    (23 votes)
  • 0%
    JD McKissic
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    William Jackson III
    (3 votes)
  • 22%
    Terry McLaurin
    (352 votes)
  • 0%
    Daron Payne
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    Jonathan Allen
    (19 votes)
  • 1%
    Matt Ioannidis
    (19 votes)
  • 4%
    Montez Sweat
    (63 votes)
  • 0%
    Tim Settle
    (1 vote)
  • 49%
    Chase Young
    (769 votes)
  • 0%
    Ryan Fitzpatrick
    (12 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else
    (6 votes)
1552 votes total Vote Now