2011 Washington Redskins Roster Outlook: WR’s and TE’s
Part 2 of our series looking at where the Redskins need to upgrade in 2011…
Santana Moss: Moss is having another productive year as the Redskins top wide receiver. He isn’t the home run threat he once was, but he still has the ability to pick up yards after the catch and make people miss. Moss has become more of a smart receiver and has found a number of holes in opposing defenses. Moss works best out of the slot where he can exploit match-ups and use his quickness. Moss does have the opportunity to opt out of his contract (which I’m sure he will) and the Redskins will need to see how much he is looking for. If the Redskins lose Moss, their receiving corps would be really hurting. I’m guessing they keep him if he does want to stay.
Anthony Armstrong: Armstrong has been impressive at times this year by routinely splitting defenses for big gains. With 40 catches and nearly 800 yards, Armstrong has been a nice find for the Redskins. While he has done a nice job catching some big plays, Armstrong only has two touchdowns to show for his effort. Now sometimes the issue has been the quarterback (both McNabb and Grossman) under throwing the ball, but other times Armstrong hasn’t been able to keep his feet. For Armstrong to develop into more than a 3 or a 4, he will need to work on both his balance and intermediate routes which he has been adequate at best. Considering he has caught 40 balls (and only two were in the end zone) Armstrong needs to show more than the 113 yards after the catch than he has had this season. Armstrong will be 28 next season so, he really needs to step it up if he wants to prove himself a top receiver.
Malcolm Kelly: Kelly missed all of this season due to injury, but there is little reason to believe that he can contribute next season. Best case scenario is that Kelly proves himself healthy in preseason and the Redskins can trade him for a 7th round pick.
Roydell Williams: Williams has proven to be a solid special teamer, but a horrible offensive threat. Williams doesn’t possess either great size or speed, and doesn’t seem to pickup the ball well when it is thrown to him. The Redskins desperately need to find better receiving options next year and Williams is the first area they need to upgrade.
Terrence Austin: Austin has a little promise and could get some looks down the stretch, but I don’t believe he really has a longterm future with this team. Austin’s skill set is very similar to both Moss and Armstrong (redundant to Brandon Banks), which gives him little chance for making this team. He will be in camp next year, but I really don’t see him having an impact going forward.
Brandon Banks: Banks has proven himself as a dynamic return man, but has yet to make a real impact on offense. Banks was a great find as an undrafted free agent, but Redskins fans shouldn’t be shocked if they go in a different direction next season. Although Banks is an impressive return man, it is hard to keep a player as a return man only on the roster. Banks will need to prove himself capable of helping out on offense to continue to warrant a job next year. This past year the Steelers cut Stefan Logan, one of the league’s best return men from the year before, because he didn’t really have an offensive role. Pittsburgh instead drafted two receivers this year with return abilities and they have been rewarded with quality returns and offensive production. While Banks is probably better than Logan, he will need to show some offensive prowness to keep him, otherwise the Skins might see if they can get a 6th or 7th round pick for him and use it on a receiver with upside (hopefully not another Terrence Austin).
Overview: The Redskins have two and a half receivers set for next year, assuming Moss resigns. This unit (i.e. Moss and Armstrong) have been solid this year, but far from spectacular. As much as Redskins fans like them, they pale in comparison to other NFC East receiving corps and are in the bottom third of the league (even if you just compare top two receivers). Overall this unit needs to add at least two capable receivers if not 3. At least two of the receivers need to be 6’2″ or taller as the Redskins have no Red Zone receiving threat. Washington should be active in both the draft and free agency in finding these options. If they keep Banks around maybe they go with 6 receivers, but barring a change in the number of players on the roster it will be hard to keep 6 for the season.
Chris Cooley: Cooley has responded well from missing most of last season with an injury and is putting up some of the best numbers of his career. Even more impressive than his receiving numbers might be the improvement in his blocking. Now he is still below average for a tight end, but he has slightly improved his blocking this season and has helped spring a few big runs. Dropped balls were a concern for a couple games earlier in the season, but he has been better in recent weeks. Regardless Cooley remains among the games best offensive tight ends.
Fred Davis: Davis is under contract for one more season, making now the perfect (actually last year was the perfect time to trade him, but the Skins missed the boat on that one) time to trade him. Unfortunately Davis hasn’t been utilized much this season hurting his trade value some, but when he has played Davis has made a difference. Davis has turned a number of short screens into moderate gains, and intermediate passes into long gains. The Redskins missed the boat this season by not involving Davis in the offense more and it has set them back.
Logan Paulsen: Paulsen has been a nice find for the Redskins as an undrafted rookie free agent. He not only has proven to be a good inline blocker, but he has flashed solid hands, and decent speed. He will never be a major downfield threat, but he can work underneath and be a solid receiving option.
Analysis: While some Redskins fans might be against trading a tight end (likely Davis), it is a smart move for the Redskins. Having the league’s best tight end unit, when you have so many needs would be like having the best bullpen in baseball, but no starting pitchers. Washington needs to cash in on Davis, who would be capable of starting for at least half the teams in the league. It is hard to say exactly what kind of market their would be for Davis, but I would hope they could get at least a late 3rd round pick for him (or at least the equivalent). With Cooley and Paulsen the Redskins won’t need to make tight end a priority this offseason, but will need to address it with either a minor free agent signing or a late draft pick.