Five bold predictions for the Washington Football Team in 2020
By Jonathan Eig
3. Players will play out of position in 2020
I recently had a brief debate with site regular Judge Smails about the likelihood of running back JD McKissic filling in as a wide receiver in 2020. You may have missed it since it took place in the Comments section of a recent post. I’ll sum it up. I think it could happen. The Judge thinks not.
Here’s my logic. Washington has lost three wide receivers in the past few weeks. Two were likely to be important contributors. The other was an appealing dark horse.
McKissic was a very good receiver at the beginning of his college career, and has always been an effective pass catcher coming out of the backfield. He does not have the speed to be a break-away threat, but he knows how to run patterns, and is a quality runner. Since the three lost receivers were probably going to be playing the Z position, McKissic could take advantage of the Z’s ability to go in motion and line up off the line.
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Z is an easier position to play than X and whatever limitations McKissic might have as a route runner would be minimized. Anyway, it’s a thought. I’ll let the Judge tell you why it’s a silly one.
But this got me thinking. Even though teams will have more roster flexibility this season, there will still be times when emergency plans will have to kick in. So, in addition to McKissic, I think you could see the following players logging time at new positions.
Troy Apke was recruited by Bill O’Brien at Penn State to be a wide receiver. He has outstanding speed and was highly productive – in high school. When he got to Happy Valley, new coach James Franklin needed Apke’s skill at safety and he flourished there. But don’t be shocked if Apke lines up on offense in 2020, especially if the receiving corps suffers any further injuries.
Linebacker Ryan Anderson has already established himself as a lead back on short yardage plays. Given WFT’s need at tight end, I don’t think it is out of the question that he could see some time there as well. This is less likely if Anderson takes over one of the regular linebacker spots. But I don’t see that happening. I do see a devastating hitter like Anderson potentially becoming an asset as a blocking tight end.
And, speaking of tight ends, I did not have defensive end Ryan Bee on my 53-man roster. But given Caleb Brantley’s decision to opt out of the 2020 season, there may be a spot for another defensive lineman. Bee, with his enormous size and length, could bolster his case by helping out at that thin tight end position as well. To the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t lined up on offense since his senior year in high school, but back then he did catch eight touchdown passes as a tight end.
Bee no doubt knows the story of another Marshall Thundering Herd star (that’s where Bee went), Troy Brown. He was a pretty good receiver for the Patriots back when they were just becoming a dynasty.
One day, due to multiple injuries in the defensive backfield, Coach Belichick looks over at Brown and says, “You occasionally played defense against Hail Marys back in college. How about becoming a temporary NFL cornerback?” Worked out pretty well for Troy, Bill, and the Pats. I’m not saying playing Ryan Bee at tight end will lead to a half dozen Super Bowl wins in the next couple of decades. But sometimes, you have to throw a few darts before you hit that bullseye.
These are not miracle solutions by any means. They are just practical ways to put a decent team on the field should circumstances dictate quick thinking.