QB: I think all three of these guys are close, and then there’s a big dropoff to whoever starts for the Eagles. If RG3’s knee was healthy, I would lean toward him, and obviously if we were talking about “Who would I rather have over the long term,” RG3 would be the clear choice. But for 2013, give me the guy I trust the most.
RB: Pete Prisco of CBS penned a Top 100 list (I’m not linking to it) that had Alfred Morris listed as the 41st best player in the NFL, 42 spots ahead of RG3 at 83. LeSean McCoy did not make the list… at all. It’s kind of funny how perception of players goes. In 2011, McCoy had 1309 rushing yards on 273 carries and 20 total TDs. People were calling him a clear-cut Top 3 RB. In 2012, McCoy’s entire offensive line was lost for the season and the Eagles were playing from behind in every game, and suddenly McCoy’s talent is gone? Ridiculous.
Alfred Morris had an awesome rookie season, and his “see hole, hit hole, break tackles” style of running fits in perfectly with what the Redskins do on offense. But he’s not as good as LeSean McCoy.
For the record, I strongly considered putting David Wilson ahead of DeMarco Murray, but I’m just not comfortable yet with Wilson’s ability to do the “little things.” However, Wilson is one of those guys who could wind up being the #1 guy on posts like these in a year or two.
WR: Here was Dez Bryant’s second half of the season last year:
Note the YPA. An outstanding YPA for a QB is around 8. Dez averaged 12.2 yards every time he was targeted during the 2nd half of the season last year. Incredible.
I’ll try to sum up the rest of the bunch as briefly as I can:
- Hakeem Nicks: When healthy, I like him slightly better than Cruz.
- Victor Cruz: Predictably came back down to Earth last year,but still put up big numbers. The number that bugs me a little with Cruz is that he only had a 7.6 YPA in 2012.
- DeSean Jackson: Nobody realizes it because the Eagles were so awful last year, but DeSean made some progress last year. According to PFF, he had 1 drop last year on 75 targets. If he can package that consistency with his big play ability of a few years ago, he could be special again.
- Pierre Garcon: Awesome fit for the Skins’ offense. He’s like a running back once he catches the ball.
- Miles Austin: So good when healthy, which is rare.
The notable omission here is Jeremy Maclin, who is talented, but doesn’t block, doesn’t like catching the ball in traffic, and rarely fights for YAC.
TE: Jason Witten is still clearly the top dog here, although I believe his lofty stats are wildly overrated. It’s a tough call between Brent Celek and Fred Davis for that 2nd spot. I’m a huge Davis fan, but for now I’ll side with Celek’s health and intangibles. I also like the Giants’ Brandon Myers, mind you. I just like the other guys more. Rookies Zach Ertz (Eagles) and Gavin Escobar (Cowboys) will also be players to watch this season. The NFC East is loaded with TEs.
TE/H-back/FB: Because these 4 offenses do different things and employ different positions, we have one oddball position. Darrel Young was a big part of what the Redskins did last year in the running game. I don’t think he gets enough credit. James Casey should be a nice fit in Chip Kelly’s no-huddle offense, and may be a guy who can create mismatches for opposing defenses. Ditto that for Redskins rookie Jordan Reed, who is an extraordinarily intriguing rookie with YAC ability.
LT: Last year, Trent Williams finally became the force that he should be. He was, in my opinion, the Redskins’ 2nd most important player in 2012. Jason Peters, meanwhile, was so freaking good (as in best offensive lineman in the league) in 2011 that I just can’t put him behind Will Beatty or Tyron Smith just yet, even after suffering a double ruptured Achilles. Beatty is a legitimately “plus” starting LT in the NFL. Smith is really talented and shows flashes of being an elite LT, but he has yet to put it together. At some point, he’ll probably be the best LT in the division, but he’s not there yet.
This is the most talented position in the division, by far.
LG: Evan Mathis is a no-brainer here, and then… yuck. I like Kevin Boothe, but in a perfect world I’d prefer him to be a versatile backup. Kory Lichtensteiger is a JAG, although he is a JAG who has developed continuity along the Skins’ OL.
C: This one was an extremely tough call for the top spot. Give me the uber-athletic Jason Kelce here, even recovering from a torn ACL, over Will Montgomery. If you’re a Skins fan and you like Monty better, I won’t argue at all. And hey, the Cowboys rookie makes the cut!
RG: Chris Snee looked like he was heading into decline, and while he isn’t as good as he was a few years ago, he did have a bounce back season in 2012. Chris Chester is an overlooked player. He hasn’t missed a snap in the last 2 years and is really good in the run game. Todd Herremans kicks back inside to guard from RT, and should do so with ease. It’s a strong position group when Herremans is the third best RG in the division.
RT: The pecking order at RT goes Rookie, Rookie, Doug Free, and then whoever starts for the Redskins. Gross.