Progression of young players important for Washington Redskins in 2018
By Ian Cummings
No matter who the Washington Redskins add in the offseason of 2018, they will need their young core to grow up quickly in the coming campaign.
Early returns from rookies are nice, but every year, players are drafted with the understanding that it may take time for them to become acclimated to the pace of the professional game. Some players take longer than others to blossom. Some never blossom at all.
The Washington Redskins’ contention window got a little larger with the team’s trade for former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, but the move did not come without cost. The team lost stout slot cornerback Kendall Fuller, as well as a valuable third-round pick in this year’s draft.
With the loss of Fuller, the Washington Redskins have a sudden need at the cornerback position. And in the third-round pick, the team lost a valuable draft asset. Third-round picks are the selections that are often most important. With those picks, you can find players like Kendall Fuller, Morgan Moses, Jordan Reed, and Spencer Long. In this draft, where positions of need are not in short supply, the Washington Redskins could very well suffer from that loss.
The roster is still close to contention. The trenches are well-equipped, in need of mere influxes of depth and little more. The quarterback position is locked down for at least the foreseeable future (one should never be too cautious when it comes to quarterbacks in D.C.), and the team has a high-quality coaching staff, with hires like Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray gaining recognition for their stellar work.
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In 2018, those position coaches can’t afford to take a break. In 2017, the Washington Redskins saw plenty of young players break through early, from Anthony Lanier and Matt Ioannidis to Kendall Fuller. In 2018, the team needs more of that quick development. Even after free agency and the NFL Draft, there will be holes. Holes both on the starting lineup, and in the team’s depth, that the young players can fill if they put in the work.
Below is a tentative list of players who can make a considerable impact on the Washington Redskins’ 2018 season. Young players who may need more time to develop, but may also be candidates for a leap under the pressure to produce. If nothing else, these are players whose development should be monitored closely, either to peg them as possible solutions, or to understand that new players must be obtained. These players are at varying stages in their development. Some are already starters. Others are names you may not hear until June. But all of these players have work to do. And all of them can serve a purpose.
- RB Samaje Perine
- RB Kapri Bibbs
- RB Keith Marshall
- WR Josh Doctson
- WR Maurice Harris
- WR Robert Davis
- TE Jeremy Sprinkle
- OG Kyle Kalis
- C Chase Roullier
- DT Ondre Pipkins
- EDGE Ryan Anderson
- EDGE Tavaris Barnes
- ILB Josh Harvey-Clemons
- ILB Zach Vigil
- CB Fabian Moreau
- CB Joshua Holsey
- S Montae Nicholson
- S James Sample
- S Fish Smithson
We’ve seen how important early progression is for teams in contention. The Philadelphia Eagles had a number of young players serve as key contributors on their Super Bowl squad, including Corey Clement, Nelson Agholor, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and Derek Barnett. The New Orleans Saints made it to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs with the second-most rookie snaps in the NFL. Teams don’t have to win with an overwhelming ratio of veteran talent. Drafting right and developing is arguably more important than building an experienced roster.
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The Washington Redskins have a young core, and in 2018, the primary goal should be to assist these players to the next step in their development. Development of such players is key to the improvement of any team, and if it can happen quick, so too can the emergence of a playoff threat. The window is open. Now the Washington Redskins need to make use of their opportunity.