Monday, August 10, 2009

Let's Look At......

(The Redskins are expecting a lot from Devin Thomas if they are to succeed in 2009)

The Wide Receivers

This will be a moment of truth year for the wide receiver corp. and for Executive VP of Football Operations (a.k.a. the officially unofficial GM) Vinny Cerrato. As you probably know by now Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly were drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft. Neither had great rookie seasons hindered by injury and the inability to earn time on the field and/or be productive.
This year at least one of them must step up and take a starting role on this team or the Redskins will continue to struggle in the passing game and Cerrato will continue to be criticized for drafting two WRs and a TE when the team needed continued depth on the O and D lines.

2008 Summary: For Santana Moss, the 2008 season started out to be a highly productive one. Moss scored a TD in each of his first three games including the game winning TD against the Saints.

Moss had a pretty consistent year but teams started double covering and shadowing their zone coverage at him to make it more difficult for Moss to get open. Antwaan Randle-El had an ok season and played well when used in trick plays, but one would wish the #2's numbers would be higher if only to take some of the pressure off of Moss. James Thrash was mostly a special teams ace who was used for the occasional catch, but mostly he was a decoy and used primarily as a run blocker. There was very little production from rookies Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly. Kelly barely took the field because of his knee injuries and Thomas was a very raw prospect. However, towards the end of the season Thomas did score his first TD (on a reverse) and started to show some promise.

2008 Stats (From
Santana Moss 79 1044 13.2 67 6
Antwaan Randle El 53 593 11.2 31 4
Devin Thomas 15 120 8.0 18 0
James Thrash 9 81 9.0 29 1

Malcolm Kelly 3 18 6.0 7

Current Roster: Keith Eloi*, D.J. Hackett, Marques Hagans, Malcolm Kelly, Marko Mitchell*, Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle-El, Trent Shelton, Devin Thomas

Biggest Position Battle:
Antwaan Randle-El vs. Devin Thomas vs. Malcolm Kelly
(Who's the #2 WR?)

Antwaan Randle-El actually had career numbers in TDs (4) and receptions (53) in 2008, but I have always felt he's been out of position ever since the Redskins signed him. Remember, Randle-El was supposed to be the #3 WR in a three receiver set with Santana Moss and Brandon Lloyd. However, Lloyd was a complete dud and Randle-El had to take that spot. I personally would like to see Randle-El in the slot more often and let his speed and agility take advantages of some mismatches. Thomas seems to be a good fit if he can stay healthy. Thomas has the speed to be a deep threat and a frame similar to that of a Owens or Boldin. The biggest concern in the past was his route running and timing. Now, he seems to be struggling with nagging injuries (hamstring) that continues to slow his progression and his number of reps. Kelly is more like a Plaxico Burress in frame and many thought he would be more polished and pro-ready than Thomas. However, he's a year behind everybody now so he'll have to play catch up. Also, the team is using Kelly very cautiously after having another knee surgery in the offseason.

Bonus Position Battle:
Who's the 5th and Possibly 6th WR?
With James Thrash being cut/retiring due to a neck injury, there has been at least one if not two openings for depth at the WR position. D.J. Hackett was a highly coveted free agent WR by the Skins in 2008 before the draft. Hackett knows the system and appears to be making good progress in camp. The downside on Hackett is that he's very injury prone and probably won't be much of a special teams participant. Marques Hagans has been on many practice squads and is trying to break into a roster spot. Word out of camp has indicated that he's been filling in when Thomas, Kelly and Moss have been limited. Also, Hagans is trying to make an impact on special teams and he may be able to serve as a punt returner. Marko Mitchell and Keith Eloi have had moments in camp but may be relegated to the practice squad.

Player(s) to Watch: Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly- It's really a no brainer. The Redskins are expecting these guys to produce now. The Redskins front office has a limited amount of patience and their grace period is gone. Thomas and Kelly could radically improve the offense with their skills if they can get on the field. Both have different abilities that could give Jason Campbell many options.
(If Malcolm Kelly can stay healthy, his size could cause opposing defenders many problems)

The Redskins have the players in place to make the WR position very dangerous, but many of the younger players will need to step up and live up to their reputations also health will be a key factor. If this unit can stay healthy and produce, expect the Redskins pass attack to be much better than it was in 2008.

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