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Ranking the Redskins 21-29

Ranking the Redskins 21-29

Ladell Betts

Here's my annual ranking of the front-line Redskins. There are 29 players in the rankings—the 22 regular position starters, a third wide receiver, a third-down back, punter, place kicker, long snapper, kickoff returner, and nickel back. Today, #21 through #29:

29. Shaun Suisham, K—This seemed like a good place to start since he was statistically the worst at his job in the NFL last year, hittling a league-low 71% of his field goal attempts. If Dave Rayner beats him out, he takes Suisham's spot at #29 as well.

28. Rock Cartwright, KR—I'll take Rock all day as a special teams guy but he just doesn't do it for me as a kickoff returner. I'd rather have the 20 or 25 most of the time and midfield or better once a game than the 25 or 30 consistently and past midfield once a month or so.

27. Stephon Heyer, RT—When people look at your jersey and see a pair of question marks instead of your number, you've got some convincing to do. Consistent competence is what will be asked of him and his ability to deliver that is one of the keys to the season.

26. Malcolm Kelly, WR—As with the kickers, if Devin Thomas beats out Kelly for this spot, the ranking doesn't change much. It's based on a lack of proven production. There's a good chance that this ranking can climb higher as the season goes on but I'll believe when I see it.

25. Randy Thomas, RG—Can Thomas, who is one of my favorite Redskins of this decade, really be this low on the totem pole? Having a bum knee, neck surgery and, now, a calf injury can do that. He'll hang in there but his effectiveness will be somewhat limited.

24. Antwaan Randle El, WR—He just turned 30 and the Redskins are running out of time to get their money's worth out of him. It looks like he'll make a pretty good chunk of change (his cap number is $4.1 million) to catch a few dozen balls, take a trip on the path to nowhere while returning punts, and turn an occasional trick play.

23. Ladell Betts, 3rd-down RB—Betts isn't the prototypical third-down back, the one that can take a swing pass on third down, make a cut, turn on the jets and get a big play. However, Betts will usually get you to the sticks if not much more. He's a pretty good backup running back although he doesn't seem to be effective enough to enable the Redskins to go to a true, two-back system.

22. Fred Smoot, nickel back—At times he looks like he can get it done, at others he's a ticking time bomb. His run support has been pretty good but that's not exactly what you're looking for out of your nickel back.

21. Jason Campbell, quarterback—I'm working on the "what have you done lately" line of reasoning here, the Campbell we saw in the second half of 2009 just wasn't very good. It's all about consistency; if Campbell can find it, the Redskins could be pretty good.

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You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offenseDoes Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

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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