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Need to Know: Ranking the Redskins' rookies—Who will have the most impact in 2016?

Need to Know: Ranking the Redskins' rookies—Who will have the most impact in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 28, 30 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. It will be 76 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 17; Preseason opener @ Falcons 44; Final roster cut 67

Ranking the rookies: Who will have the most impact in 2016?

It’s hard to quantify “impact”, especially when comparing players across different positions on both offense and defense. For this post I’m looking at who will play the most and who will be most relied upon the most to play key roles. This is for this coming season only; I’m not projecting anything beyond 2016.

CB Kendall Fuller (3rd round)—Although he will have some competition, the bet here is that he will emerge as the slot cornerback. Technically this is not a starting role but usually the nickel back plays well over half of the defensive snaps. Stopping other teams’ three- and four-receiver sets will be critical to improvement in the defense.

DL Matt Ioannidis (5th)—I think he has a shot at starting at nose tackle at some point during the season, although the odds are better that he is part of the D-line rotation. I see him shaping up like Kyshoen Jarrett did last year, starting off with a small role and then earning more and more playing time in important situations as the year goes on.

WR Josh Doctson (1st)—The top draft pick is third on this list for two reasons. For one thing, rookie receivers generally take a season to learn the NFL game before they have a big impact. There are exceptions, of course, but they generally take time. Also he is currently the fourth receiver on the depth chart and his snaps will be limited.

LB Su’a Cravens (2nd)—I debated if I should put him higher on this list but I’m not sure that he can master multiple positions on defense to make plays on defense immediately. I see him being relatively quiet through the first few months of the season, catching on in December, and then really showing what he can do in 2017.

LB Steven Daniels (7th)—We’re getting into guys who may have to spend some time on the practice squad before having an impact on Sundays. Daniels has the right mindset to succeed but the depth chart at inside linebacker is very crowded and it’s hard to see Daniels getting much playing time.

RB Keith Marshall (7th)—Unlike the situation that his fellow seventh-round pick is facing, Marshall has plenty of opportunity. Matt Jones will start at running back and Chris Thompson will hold down the third down duties but as of right now the backup/relief spot is wide open. Unfortunately, Marshall was unable to do much to win the job in the offseason as he was hampered by a hamstring injury during minicamp. He’ll get another shot in training camp and if he doesn’t make the most of it he could be destined for the practice squad.

QB Nate Sudfeld (6th)—I trust I don’t have to go into much detail to make everyone realize that if Sudfeld takes the field this year the Redskins are in trouble. Big trouble.

In case you missed it 

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.