Depth at receiver could lead to tough decisions for Redskins.
Versatility, performance key to making roster
ASHBURN | The Redskins’ most notable free agent departures were both wide receivers, yet the team still feels it has what amounts to a high-class problem at the position.
“If we played tomorrow, we could only dress five, it would be a really, really hard decision right now,” coach Jay Gruden said.
Luckily for Gruden, the Redskins don’t play tomorrow, or for another three months. They’ll use that time to figure out which of the wide receivers currently on the 90-man roster will make the team.
“Special teams will become part of that, obviously, but we have got great options right now,” Gruden said. “And it’s a matter of keeping them healthy and giving them all opportunities from now until the fourth preseason game after training camp and seeing who the best ones are, who makes the most plays.”
Assuming health, Jamison Crowder should be a roster lock and a starter. The Redskins do not just see him as a slot receiver, he can play outside as well and move inside in three-receiver sets because of his route versatility. Crowder was Kirk Cousins’
favorite target last Wednesday during the practice session open to the media.
Free-agent acquisition Terrelle Pryor Sr. seems like the best guess to start opposite Crowder. The Redskins think he’s just as fast as DeSean Jackson, and have been throwing him a lot of deep balls in the practices. Part of that is to help Cousins’ timing with Pryor, whose long strides cover ground deceptively quickly. The Redskins gave Pryor $6 million guaranteed to play this season.
Josh Doctson raised some eyebrows when he was held out of team drills last Wednesday, but Gruden said it had nothing to do with the Achilles injuries that limited Doctson to two games last season. The week before, Doctson looked good in practice working with the first team. If he stays healthy, he’s probably the No. 3 receiver.
Ryan Grant moved up to the first team Wednesday when Doctson sat out, and Gruden said that he “is doing a much better job” with his timing. That’s not the first bit of praise he’s directed Grant’s way, but the fourth-year pro will still face questions about in-season production no matter how much he shines during the summer.
The Redskins’ other free agent wide receiver acquisition, Brian Quick, did not get much guaranteed money: just $80,000 as part of a deal worth up to $855,000, making finances a (very) minor consideration in whether or not he gets a roster spot. Quick was the subject of the question that led Gruden to expand on Washington’s receiver depth.
Quick is one of the more interesting cases. He’s a former second-round pick in 2012 and coming off a 564-yard, threetouchdown season with the Rams. That was his only productive season as a pro, so he’s still a bit of an unknown quantity and has a lot to prove.
“It’s just a matter of getting him on the field and finding out what he is good at,” Gruden said, after noting an end zone catch Quick made last Tuesday on a fade. “He can run, he is big, he is physical. [He’s] got to learn who to block in the running game, which he is doing a good job of that, and just continue to work and find a way to fit in.”
Then there’s Maurice Harris. Harris’ size (he’s 6-3) isn’t as much of an asset on a team that has plenty of it, but physicality could help him contribute on special teams which, as Gruden said, will be important.
Sixth-round draft pick Robert Davis also has valuable attributes for a special teamer: a 4.44 40-yard dash and 6-3 size. After the draft, Gruden said he was one of the more intriguing picks who could surprise people.
Davis came to the Redskins from Georgia State in the Sun Belt Conference, so playing in the NFL will be a big step up and require development. If the Redskins like his qualities enough, though, they could decide it’s worth keeping him as near as possible.
Those seven players are the most likely candidates to factor into the Redskins’ plans, though there are five more receivers currently on the roster: Matt Hazel, Levern Jacobs, Zach Pascal, Kendal Thompson, who is out of practice with a minor injury, and James Quick. They’re all long shots, but they have some time to work with before decisions must be made.
Redskins receiver Jamison Crowder cannot only catch in the slot, but his route versatility lets him move outside and inside on three-receiver sets.