The 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of the first veteran minicamp on April 29, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine 20 questions Washington faces as Jay Gruden pieces together the roster, finalizes his playbook and preps for his first season as a head coach in the NFL.
Who from the draft class of 2013 will break out?
The Redskins drafted seven players in 2013 and after they cut seventh-round pick RB Jawan Jamison last month they have six of them left on the roster. The two players they picked on Friday, second-round CB David Amerson and third-round TE Jordan Reed, are expected to be key contributors in 2014. But the late round picks make or break a draft. Of the remaining four players who were picked on Saturday last year, who will step up and play a key role? S Phillip Thomas spent the year on injured reserve while RB Chris Thompson, OLB Brandon Jenkins, and S Bacarri Rambo all got some playing time with very limited success.
Tandler: I think they all have a shot but I’ll go with Jenkins to be the one with the most impact. We keep hearing that Jim Haslett will be free to design schemes that will unleash the fury on opposing quarterbacks. In certain situations he will need as many pass rushers on the field as possible that that combination should include Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Jason Hatcher, and Jenkins. With a lot of focus going to the other three, Jenkins should have some opportunities. If he gets the opportunities in the right situations it would not be surprising to see him rack up half a dozen sacks. To take this a step further, if he shows solid pass-rushing ability could the Redskins consider letting Orakpo walk after playing out his franchise tag and give the job to Jenkins? Sure, one step at a time but that’s what could be at stake for Jenkins in 2014.
El-Bashir: I’ll go with Thomas, who’s coming off a Lisfranc injury that erased his entire rookie season. The good news is that he was medically cleared earlier this month, so he’ll have the entire offseason to make up for lost time. GM Bruce Allen recently revealed that Thomas had been on target to start as a rookie. Of course, that was before he got hurt last preseason. Those comments, however, should be heartening to Thomas. Because what it means is that team brass probably hopes for the same thing in 2014. As the depth chart stands now, Thomas probably slots in behind presumed starters Brandon Meriweather and recently signed Ryan Clark. Both Meriweather and Clark are on one-year deals. So, looking ahead a bit, if Thomas proves he’s ready, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his role increase over the course of the 2014 season as Allen and Jay Gruden evaluate his prospects for 2015. Playing time = opportunity to break out. And, if all goes to plan, Thomas should get plenty.