Overall this season for the Redskins has been nothing short of a disaster, there are some positives still for the Redskins to feel good about and hopefully build on for the future. Many of the Redskins best producers this season have been guys you’d typically expect given their track record or pedigree (Adrian Peterson, Brandon Scherff, Quinton Dunbar, the whole defensive line etc.), but there have been a handful of young players who have stepped up their game and really exceeded all expectations set on them.
-McLaurin was a third round pick for the Redskins, so there was of course some expectation that he would be asked to contribute right away. What he’s done so far though has made him look like one of the true steals of the 2019 NFL draft. McLaurin in 9 games has 32 catchers for 497 yards (15.5 ypc) and 5 touchdowns. That amounts to 28% of the Redskins receiving yardage and 5 of the Redskins 9 receiving TDs. McLaurin is using his elite route running and speed to get open and make plays on a weekly basis. If the Redskins quarterback play was even average this year he might have been in line for a Pro Bowl berth as a rookie. The Redskins can be happy knowing that they have at least one receiver position locked down going forward.
-Flowers was a former failed 1st round offensive tackle, who the Redskins took a chance on in free agency this offseason. The goal was to make him a guard and give him a shot to compete for the open LG job. Early in camp those plans were put on hold with the Trent Williams holdout, once the team signed Donald Penn though they were able to fully slide Flowers inside to guard. He started off the season extremely well, and he has missed just one offensive snap all season.
While his play hasn’t been as good the last two weeks versus the Vikings and Bills, Flowers has still been a bright spot along the offensive line. He will be just 26 this offseason so there is plenty of reason to think that he could even improve going forward as he gets more comfortable inside playing guard. Flowers is an impending free agent and he might look to move on even if the Redskins are willing to meet his asking price, in which case the best the Redskins can hope for is a compensatory pick down the road. Hopefully though the Redskins can convince him to stay and sign him long term to lock down the position.
-Settle was the 2nd primary nose tackle the Redskins took in the 2018 NFL draft, behind 1st rounder Da’Ron Payne. He didn’t have Payne’s upside potential, but he was still considered a top 100 prospect by many scouting services making him a nice steal in the 5th round for the Redskins. Settle had a solid year as a back-up as a rookie, but he’s really taken his game up a notch in year two. While he can’t crack the Redskins starting line-up, he would likely find a bigger if not starting role on a number of other teams around the league. When he’s in there, Settle shows almost no drop-off from the starting three. This allows the Redskins to keep their stars fresh, while at the same time maintaining a quality defensive line. Settle is at his best versus the run, but has shown some good awareness and push in the passing game as well. Settle is signed for two more seasons at a cheap rate and should provide quality play in that time.
-Holcomb was a late-bloomer in the draft process, who really opened people’s eyes with an impressive athletic display at his Pro Day. The Redskins took a shot at him in the fifth round and the thought was he might a special-teamer/back-up if he makes the team. Not only did Holcomb make the team, but he earned the starting role of a platoon with Shaun Dion-Hamilton. Holcomb plays roughly 2/3 of the Redskins defensive snaps and has generally played at a league average level. Considering he was a 5th round rookie that is really impressive. It’s possible he gets unseated for the “starting” role, Holcomb has shown he can play at this level and at worst is a good 3rd linebacker/special teamer.
-Hamilton was the Redskins 2018 6th round pick, but he came in with a higher upside and pedigree than most 6th rounders. Injuries had shortened his previous two seasons at Alabama, but if he could remain healthy he had the upside to start at the next level. Dion-Hamilton is on the short side of the Redskins LB platoon, he’s played at a pretty high level. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him take over the top role next season.
-Apke was the Redskins 2018 4th round selection, but early on in camp last year it was clear that he wasn’t going to be an early contributor. He looked lost throughout most of the preseason and at best the hope was he would contribute on special teams. Injuries shortened his rookie year and heading into this year’s camp, he was clearly at the bottom of the depth chart. Apke played solely on special teams for the first 5 games of the season, but injuries forced him into the line-up week 6 versus the Dolphins.
Since then he is a key part of the secondary, including playing 100% of the snaps the past two weeks. In that time Apke has looked pretty good and now looks like at least a 3rd safety if not a future starter for the Redskins. When Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett come back from injury, Apke will lose the starting role and his snaps will decrease. He’s shown enough though that the Redskins should still find ways to get him on the field.