The key to success for any NFL team is drafting well and developing players. The New Orleans Saints had the second most rookie snaps last season according to FanSided. The Saints used that young talent to make it to the divisional round of the playoffs. Washington also has a number of young talented players that must step up in 2018.
2016 first round pick Josh Doctson had an up and down campaign in 2017. The low point for him was a potential game-winning touchdown catch against the Chiefs in week four that he dropped. The high point was a clutch diving catch that set up the go-ahead touchdown late against the Seahawks. Doctson has the ability to be a game-changing number one receiver but he must become a more consistent player.
It is troubling that running back Chris Thompson finished the season with more receiving yards that Doctson. Thompson missed the end of the season due to injury and was not even a starter when he was playing. Thompson is a tremendous player but he cannot be the go to man in the passing game. Doctson must become the clear number one option next season.
In order to acquire quarterback Alex Smith in a trade Washington had to give away cornerback Kendall Fuller. Fuller was one of the Redskins best young players. With his departure cornerback Fabian Moreau must step up. The 2017 third-round draft pick slipped in the draft due to a torn pectoral muscle he suffered on his pro day
Moreau played well on special teams during his rookie campaign but received limited snaps on defense due to Fuller’s outstanding play. Defensive backs coach Torrian Gray will be key in Moreau’s development this offseason. Moreau has the opportunity to become one of the Redskins top three cornerbacks in 2018.
Samaje Perine’s rookie campaign was a bit of a roller coaster. He had fumbling issues early on in preseason, which lingered into the regular season. When Thompson suffered a season-ending injury against the Saints Perine got more opportunities. Perine recorded back-to-back 100 yard running days against the Saints and then the Giants on Thanksgiving.
Perine received a lot of work late in the season because he was the last man standing at the position. Despite the added touches, Perine struggled. Some of that may be on him, but a significant amount should be attributed to the massive number of injuries on the offensive line. Perine has every opportunity to become Washington’s number one running back. He is more talented than Rob Kelley who was the starter last season. Thompson is an incredible weapon for Washington but he does not have the body type to absorb 20-25 carries a game. If Perine can fix his fumbling issues and improve this offseason he could very well be Washington’s starter next season.
The 2017 second-round pick out of Alabama was expected to be a key contributor following linebacker Trent Murphy’s preseason injury. Washington’s starting outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith received 822 and 756 snaps respectively according to The Washington Post. Smith had 195 snaps on defense. With limited opportunities, Anderson did not record a sack. That must change in 2018. With Kerrigan and Smith still under contract, Anderson may not be a starter but he must become an impact rotation linebacker in 2018.