It's March and everybody wants brackets. In Redskins land, that might seem a little weird, but let's give it a try.
Below are the Redskins' most important players, ranked 1 to 16.
1) Trent Williams - If he can stay healthy for 16 games, it will make a huge difference, both in the run game and with whatever quarterback lines up behind him.
2) QBX - A quarterback on a rookie deal will land on this team before training camp. This is the great unknown.
3) Case Keenum - Fair or not, Keenum seems likely to win the Redskins starting QB job unless QBX is very impressive early on. For two offseasons, the Redskins brass could have gone with Colt McCoy as the starting QB, and for two straight offseasons, the Redskins brass has made a trade for another QB. Remember with Keenum, two years ago he was in the NFC Championship Game, and last year, John Elway paid him $36 million to start for the Broncos.
4) Landon Collins - The Redskins paid the former Giants star safety a lot of money this offseason. They need Collins to be the defensive captain and leader, right away, and to clean up whatever communication issues troubled the unit last fall. If Collins can get back to his All Pro level of play from 2016 would be a big help too.
5) Brandon Scherff - Coming off a torn pectoral muscle that caused him to miss most of 2018, the Redskins need Scherff all the way back. He is a big cog of the run game. He's also going into a contract year, and getting an extension done for the former Hawkeye will be something to monitor all offseason.
6) Reuben Foster - Too high? Nope. A first-round pick of the 49ers in 2017, Foster has all-world talent. He has also been in a lot of trouble since entering the NFL, starting at the combine and including two domestic violence arrests. Foster seems likely to be suspended, so not only do the Redskins need to prepare for Foster to handle the middle of their defense, they need to prepare for a few games without him too. If he can play, stay healthy, and stay out of trouble, he could be a game changer for the ‘Skins defense. This is a guy that was in the Top 5 on many draft boards but slipped because of character questions.
7) Jonathan Allen - Here comes the Alabama run. Allen was great in his second season, and there is plenty of reason to expect even more development in 2019. Pro Football Focus rated Allen a +11.9 last year, that makes him the highest ranking returning player on the team.
8) Ryan Kerrigan - Pencil him in for another 12-sack season. He's dependable and durable, and yet, perpetually underrated. Allen nudges slightly ahead of Kerrigan because of his ability to stop the run, but nobody on the Redskins team gets after the passer like RK91.
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9) Daron Payne - Much like Allen, his rookie season in 2018 was strong, and his sophomore season should only get better. Payne registered five sacks and 56 tackles last season while it looked like he might have hit a rookie wall late in the year. Expect those numbers to improve.
10) Adrian Peterson - The absolute best surprise for the Redskins in 2018, he finished the year with more than 1,000 yards rushing and the easy vote for offensive MVP. In fact, without AP, the Redskins would not have won seven games. Peterson is back, and while his role could eventually change with the return of Derrius Guide, he will still be the engine for Jay Gruden's run game, at least early on.
11) Josh Norman - Some fans might gripe about his high price tag, but Norman created seven turnovers last season. The Redskins might want to consider more zone coverage to play to Norman's strengths as the entire secondary in the 2018 season seemed to lack lateral speed on crossing routes.
12) Derrius Guice - The Redskins seem unlikely to have an explosive passing offense in 2019, and Peterson will get plenty of carries, but if Guice is all the way healthy by Week 1, he will help this team. He has speed and power and vision and burst. The team will need to figure out the timeshare between AP, Guice and Chris Thompson, and the second-year star out of LSU also needs to be cautious in his return from a serious knee injury and not rush things along.
13) Quinton Dunbar - The Redskins' defense was a different group after Dunbar injured his leg. A mysterious nerve injury, it remains to be seen if or when Dunbar will be all the way back. If he is, with Collins on the back end and Norman opposite Dunbar, the secondary could be strong. If.
14) Matt Ioannidis - One of the Redskins' most productive players in 2018, Ioannidis registered 7.5 sacks in just nine starts last season. Unfortunately, for the second straight year, injuries hampered the Greek God of Sacks from finishing the season. Going into a contract year and with a full offseason of working out, Ioannidis could be poised for a big 2019 campaign.
15) Colt McCoy - It's absolutely possible McCoy is the Redskins starting QB. Jay Gruden loves McCoy and the former Longhorn knows the offense backwards and forwards. He has support from the locker room, and honestly, the media. That said, the team traded to acquire Keenum this offseason, just like they traded to acquire Alex Smith last year. In both of those spots, the team could have gone with McCoy instead. They didn't.
16) Tress Way - Is it crazy to have a punter on this list? Maybe. But Way was fantastic for the Redskins in 2018 as a decisive weapon in the field position game. Another year with no touchbacks in 2019 would be wildly impressive.
First Four Out - Jordan Reed, Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, Chris Thompson.
The Redskins didn't get much out of these four players in 2018, and still won seven games. If two of these four can play a full season and match their salary with production, this team could surprise people.
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