The players that the Redskins selected in the 2016 NFL Draft will be hoping that their second impression next season is better than their first impression from a year ago.
According to ESPN's Bill Barnwell, only two teams — the Cardinals and the Vikings — received fewer snaps from their first-year pros than Washington did. Those three franchises, along with the Bills, were the only four in the league to see their rookies play less than 1,000 snaps.
Here's the full breakdown from Barnwell:
Snaps played on offense and defense by rookies this year (playoff teams bolded) pic.twitter.com/0GS1X6KE29— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) January 30, 2017
And here are a handful of reasons that the Redskins' number is so low:
- 2016 first-rounder Josh Doctson (Achilles issue) didn't play after Week 2, missing the season's last 14 contests.
- Second-rounder Su'a Cravens missed five full games due to injury, while third-rounder Kendall Fuller was inactive for three and then was in and out of the secondary rotation, never really nailing down a consistent role.
- Fifth-rounder Matt Ioannidis also had trouble breaking through on defense, sixth-rounder Nate Sudfeld never left the bench, and seventh-rounders Steven Daniels and Keith Marshall didn't even make it to the final roster after rough preseasons.
Yes, injuries did limit the Burgundy and Gold, and if Doctson and Cravens were allowed to play the year from start to finish, the Redskins would've finished higher. However — and feel free to read this in your best head coach's voice — being available is a skill, and so far, it's a skill this bunch needs to develop.
On top of that, aside from a few glimpses courtesy of Cravens, none of the other rookies did much to seize bigger roles or give coaches a reason to play them more often (undrafted guys Robert Kelley and Maurice Harris did, but none of the April selections really popped). So while health is certainly a reason for the low finish on Barnwell's list, so, too, is ineffectiveness.
It's true that rookie playing time and reaching the playoffs didn't seem to have a huge correlation in 2016, considering seven playoff teams sit in the top half of the rankings and five reside in the bottom half. With that being said, the Redskins' future feels much murkier because of questions surrounding guys like Doctson and Fuller, and a back half of the 2016 draft that lacks potential contributors.
And because of the underwhelming production, two groups will be feeling pressure in 2017: This past class, as they hope to take a leap from where they are, and this coming class, as they hope to avoid the position their predecessors now find themselves in.