Washington Redskins' Most Under- and Overrated Offseason Additions
Following a 3-13 season last year, the Washington Redskins weren't shy about shopping for upgrades this offseason. However, while some of the new names grabbed headlines, others quietly fell below the radar.
When a key part of the free-agency agenda is improving the special teams unit, subtle improvements are common.
Here's a look at some of the most under and overrated pickups in Washington this spring.
Player: Akeem Jordan, LB
The Redskins' situation at inside linebacker last season was ugly—Keenan Robinson missed the year due to injury, London Fletcher showed obvious signs of age and Perry Riley struggled with any sort of consistency.
This season, with Riley re-signed, Fletcher retired and a hopefully healthy Robinson, the defense added some necessary depth and found what could be a solid contributor in Akeem Jordan.
In early June, I made a bold prediction that Riley wouldn't start at inside linebacker, despite his new contract. Few agreed, but it was Jordan who I thought could fight for a spot.
At the very least, the 28-year-old provides depth at the position and contribution on special teams, which both serve as major areas of need for the Redskins.
While he's stayed under the radar since signing back in March, Jordan has the potential to surprise some people in 2014.
Player: Tanard Jackson, S
Given the Redskins' struggles in the deep half of their defense last season, getting Tanard Jackson back following his league suspension was a great development.
With that being said, it's entirely too soon to get excited. Jackson has been out of football for the past two years.
The Redskins will hope he can get back into the flow of things throughout the summer and string together a decent preseason—the team could certainly use him.
In any case, play it cool for now. Extended time away, along with more bodies in camp, don't necessarily work in Jackson's favor.
Player: Andre Roberts, WR
I refuse to ignore that initial excitement.
Hidden in the shadows of both Jackson and Pierre Garcon is the potential for Roberts to make a strong mark this season as both a returner and receiver.
Indeed, while he continues to take reps in the return game, Roberts will also benefit from having guys like Jackson and Garcon on the outside on offense. Meanwhile, tight end Jordan Reed will take away inside help.
Given Roberts' fearless style of play and sneaky athleticism, don't be surprised if he quickly becomes a favorite for Robert Griffin III.
Player: Brian Orakpo, LB
While a defensive coordinator without handcuffs and improved positional coaches will warm the waters, linebacker Brian Orakpo still has a lot to prove as he plays 2014 under the team's franchise tag.
It's not that Orakpo can't live up to the hype (which he helps create for himself), it's that he needs to demonstrate an ability to impact a game.
His sack totals don't appear lackluster (40.5 in five seasons), but Orakpo hasn't proven himself as a true playmaker.
Yes, it's good to have Orakpo back and playing for what should be a large payday. However, turning in another slightly above-average season would leave entirely too much to be desired, and the Redskins would likely have to part ways with the soon-to-be 28-year-old linebacker if that is the case.
Player: Jason Hatcher, DL
It only took a handful of games last season before the Redskins pass rush was stamped on the side of milk cartons and left missing in action. As part of the improvement process this spring, the team went after a guy like defensive end Jason Hatcher to help the cause.
Although Hatcher is out for the next few weeks recovering from knee surgery, head coach Jay Gruden doesn't feel like it's a long-term issue, according to Brian McNally of the Washington Times.
When he eventually returns, Hatcher will be the massive, pass-rushing type the Redskins need up front.
That said, Hatcher didn't really come at a bargain. While the team doesn't exactly owe him all of the $27.5 million deal he signed last March, they are into it for at least $10.5 million, as Hatcher's $9 million signing bonus and first-year salary are guaranteed.
It's a bit shaky given the investment, the knee and Hatcher's almost 32-year-old body, but coin aside and from a hopeful football standpoint, Hatcher is a key addition.
Player: DeSean Jackson, WR
DeSean Jackson kind of lands here by default—perhaps from a statistical projection perspective.
Although I've projected Jackson as a fantasy stud for 2014, it wouldn't be a surprise to see his totals actually decrease from a season ago.
New head coach Jay Gruden likes to spread the ball around, the Redskins added some firepower over the offseason, and Jackson can sometimes be just as lethal not catching the ball as he can be hauling it in.
Not to mention, nearly every Redskins story drops Jackson's name. That means the buzz continues to grow, which increases expectations.
While I'm all aboard the DJax train with most other Washington fans, I'm keeping a watchful eye on the size of the hype balloon.