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.