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Who Should the Redskins Target at WR?

February 23, 2018
There’s no doubt that the Washington Redskins need a talented wide receiver to add to the mix of Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder as the top three options for new quarterback, Alex Smith.

Speaking of three – Washington could bring one of three unrestricted free agent wide receivers to add to the mix, as Ryan Grant, Brian Quick and Terrelle Pryor’s contracts are all set to expire.

I must admit that I’m surprised a deal for Grant has not been completed yet, considering his modest improvement last year. It would be a surprise if Pryor or Quick return, but I am never willing to rule out anything with the Redskins because they think very differently than most.

Either way, anyone of those three players would qualify simply as depth and to be a part of the puzzle. The Redskins need someone to help big time and help right away.

The way I see it – that rules out a receiver in the first round of the draft as a plan “A” option for the Redskins.

Sure, they could add a rookie receiver at any point, but that cannot be the first choice. Why?

Sometimes receivers come into the NFL and make an immediate impact, just like any other position group. Sometimes, they’re like Doctson. Or Breshad Perriman up in Baltimore.

Unreliable. Inconsistent and very raw. That’s if they’re healthy, which Doctson was not for much of his entire rookie year and then during training camp of last year.

The Redskins absolutely need to address the position and they must primarily, if not exclusively address it in free agency.

They tried to do it last year with Pryor and Quick and it was a massive failure. For whatever reason. I admit, I thought Pryor was going to be a lot better than he was. Obviously, an injury didn’t help but you can’t chalk up all of his struggles to just that.

Pryor was raw. He’s still raw. He just started playing the position two-and-a-half years ago. The Redskins probably should have known better. I should have known better. They didn’t, and I was obviously wrong too. The difference? They are paid extremely well to figure this out and get it right, more often than they do. I’m not.

The only good part of the mistake with Pryor is that they didn’t sign him to a long-term deal. It was a one-year, relatively inexpensive gamble. The same for Quick, who has size and pretty good hands but not much of anything else.

The receiver class in free agency is good but not great, especially since the Dolphins have put the franchise tag already on Jarvis Landry. The Redskins were never going to target the Dolphins leading receiver, in my eyes, because he’s just a better version of Crowder.

It’s been previously reported by my pal John Keim of ESPN that the Redskins are looking for a speed, vertical threat. This need was obvious throughout the year last season, but when Keim says it, you know that’s the belief and knowledge of those in the building at Redskins Park.

Here’s a six-pack (OK, maybe seven) of young veteran receivers who they could target: 

1 – Albert Wilson (Chiefs): He’s 26 and played 538 snaps last season with Alex Smith as his primary quarterback. He’s a  potential deep-ball threat who obviously has a rhythm already established with the Redskins new signal-caller. Wilson graded at a 78.3 overall by ProFootballFocus.com.

He played mostly out of the slot role because the Chiefs had the explosive Tyreke Hill but he’s a good reliable receiver, who could probably be used in a variety of roles. Remember, Jamison Crowder is a free agent after this upcoming year so there’s no guarantee that he’ll stay in Washington.

Per Bleacher Report NFL 1000’s exhaustive study of every significant player and position in the league, “he runs crisp routes with good timing and depth. [Wilson] does a great job when the quarterback scrambles.” The Chiefs free agent is considered “hard to tackle after the catch and usually shows solid hands.”

2 – Paul Richardson (Seahawks): A 26-year old coming off his best season in his NFL career. He played 817 snaps in 2017, per PFF and had career highs across the board with 44 receptions, 703 yards and six touchdowns. Richardson was graded at a 72.4 overall by PFF, which was slightly lower than the 72.9 grade the evaluation website gave to Ryan Grant.

Per BR NFL 1000, Richardson is “still raw as a route-runner, but he’s lightning quick in and out of his breaks,” and has “a knack for making acrobatic downfield catches.”

Ideally, Richardson provides what the Redskins need but does his lack of polish as a route runner along with Doctson’s inexperience hold the Redskins back in a timing, precision offense?

3 – Sammy Watkins (Rams): The former top-five first round pick is still only going to be 25 when September hits. He was acquired by Sean McVay and the Rams last year and was good, but far from great. He played 774 snaps, per PFF and graded at 78.4 out of 100.

Watkins was ranked as the 25 th best outside wide receiver by BR NFL 1000, with a grade of 68/100. Because of his frame, he’s considered a good blocker and received a 13/15 in that area. He had 593 receiving yards in 15 games on 39 catches but scored EIGHT touchdowns. Quite simply, he’s what the Redskins need in terms of a consistent red-zone threat but is he worth it?

4 – Allen Robinson (Jaguars): Robinson tore his ACL in a week one win for the Jaguars this past season and they still got to the AFC Championship game. Clearly his injury had an effect on Blake Bortles but nobody seems to remember that. It’s quite possible that Robinson receives the franchise tag but that would be a risk considering the significant injury he suffered.

5 – Taylor Gabriel (Falcons): Gabriel is plenty young enough (27) and experienced enough with 541 snaps in 2017 for Atlanta. He graded at a 69.1 overall by PFF and it’s possible he could wind up with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers, who got pretty good production out of Gabriel with seven touchdowns in 2016.

Gabriel, # 62 overall on the BR NFL 1000 is only 5’8 and 165.

6 – Brice Butler (Cowboys): Butler only played 261 snaps for Dallas last year and appears raw, even at the age of 28. However, he is a deep-ball threat averaging ….

Butler was graded as a 62.7 overall by PFF in 2017. Butler was ranked # 76 overall for outside receivers by BR NFL 1000 with an overall grade of 53/100. He has significant deficiencies but could stretch the field from time to time.

This is the kind of under-the-radar, cheap move that the Redskins have become synonymous with and they have heavily targeted free agents from their divisional rivals in the Bruce Allen era.

6 b. – John Brown (Cardinals): Another speed thread who played 491 snaps last year for Arizona.. He’ll be 28 to start the year. PFF graded Brown, with a terrible quarterback situation at a 50.2 out of 100 in 2017.

Brown has been banged up and is only 5’11 and 180 pounds. He doesn’t seem to fit the Jay Gruden preferred mold, but his speed when healthy is hard to ignore.

There’s seven different options for the Redskins and that’s just an initial list. Obviously, cost is going to be a major factor but if Washington is serious about helping Smith and the offense out – they are going to attack largely from this list.

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade for Monumental Sports Network (www.DCHotRead.com).  Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN    


 


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