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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.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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.

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