Full 2014 Projections for Every Washington Redskins 2nd-Year Player
Predicting numbers for second-year pros in July may seem like a fruitless task, but there are a few stories developing from the Washington Redskins offseason that offer some clues to their development.
Aside from seventh-rounder Jawan Jamison, Washington still has every 2013 draft pick on its current 90-man roster. That could all change by the time that number becomes 53, but which of these guys will make the biggest leap in 2014?
Let's have a look at some of the items coming out of this dark time in the NFL calendar and make some decisions about how those things will shape the regular season.
Note: all projections are for offensive or defensive snaps—special teams are not included.
David Amerson, Cornerback
With two interceptions in his rookie year—one of which he returned for a touchdown—David Amerson will have to carry a lot of expectation in 2014.
The good news is that he seems to not just be handling it, but flourishing as a result. Mike Jones reported for The Washington Post that Amerson seems to be ready to assume the role of second starting corner:
The team doesn’t play its first preseason game until Aug. 7, but already—with his play this offseason—Amerson has confirmed to the team’s decision-makers that he is indeed poised to take his game to another level...with a full season under his belt and an offseason to reflect and study his performances, coaches say Amerson’s grasp and understanding of the game is 'like night and day.'
If this is the case, there's no reason why Amerson can't switch with DeAngelo Hall in covering the opposition's primary receiver. Hall assumed that responsibility for the whole of 2013, and although he performed admirably, some support remains necessary.
With a deeper understanding of the Redskins defense, Amerson's natural nose for the ball should come to the fore. Because of this, it's not unreasonable to expect five interceptions from him this year.
ESPN's John Keim noted that Amerson has gained "about six or seven pounds of muscle" this offseason, observing the advantages this will give him in press coverage and run support.
It's clear that the cornerback is committed to improving his game. Even in his rookie year he got better and better as the season went on. Of Washington's 2013 draft picks, Amerson is the one most likely to make the jump in his second year.
Projection: 16 starts, 51 tackles, 11 passes defended, five interceptions, two forced fumbles, one touchdown
Jordan Reed, Tight End
Reading the previous slide regarding Amerson's status as "most likely to succeed," many of you no doubt politely offered Jordan Reed as a viable alternative for that title.
Reed has formidable talent, and while he has recovered from the concussion that ended his rookie season, there's a lingering concern that over his future, especially with head injuries in his college history.
That's really likely to be the only thing that can stop him this year, however. While he's not an unknown quantity anymore, the improvements across Washington's receiving corps will actually leave him better placed to get the ball.
Gruden loves getting his tight ends the ball, and with offensive coordinator Sean McVay's past as the tight ends coach, the stage is set for a big year from Reed. Moving him around last year created mismatches in a variety of areas, and Reed's size and speed were often too much for defenders.
Comparisons to Aaron Hernandez were rife as he came out of college, and Reed's ability on the field can certainly match that of the disgraced New England Patriot.
There's a lot to be excited about here. Reed hauled in a lot of impressive catches from poorly-thrown balls in 2013, which meant he became a go-to target for Robert Griffin III as he struggled with his accuracy.
Reed's got some growing to do as a blocker, but he's shown flashes of ability here too, so it's understandable how enthusiastic McVay was when he spoke to CSN Washington.
Projection: 15 starts, 883 yards, 63 receptions, six touchdowns
Phillip Thomas, Safety
Phillip Thomas is a difficult one to judge.
On the one hand, he was a projected starter before being injured in the preseason last year, but Lisfranc injuries are tricky and it's really impossible to gauge his role in 2014.
What's clear, however, is that Thomas is going to do everything in his power to make his mark. Speaking to Mark Maske at The Washington Post, Thomas outlined his development within the system:
I’m feeling a lot more comfortable, being a year into the system and just getting the communication down and everything... It feels a lot more comfortable. I’m just healthy and I’m out there doing what naturally comes to me.
While Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark are ahead of Thomas on the roster, Washington's coaches will be very aware of the limited deals both veterans are on. Thomas and fellow 2013 draftee Bacarri Rambo will be expected to get better through special teams this year and help the team out in a big way next year.
Learning from Clark will be so important for the young safeties. Having a veteran leader like Clark on the roster will be incredibly beneficial for the developing players, and they should do everything they can gain knowledge from him.
Projection: one start, 15 tackles, one forced fumble
Brandon Jenkins, Outside Linebacker
Solid veteran or unproven player with potential? That's the decision facing Gruden as he makes his final cuts. Rob Jackson is the vet, while Brandon Jenkins is the young prospect.
Jenkins looked out of place as camp progressed, with ESPN's John Keim stating that new outside linebackers coach Brian Baker has been "grilling him over a variety of mistakes."
That doesn't bode well for the former fifth-round pick, but Baker also told Keim that Jenkins "really has improved, probably more so than anybody else."
It's clear that the coaches see the talent within Jenkins, but he's running out of time in which to demonstrate it. As a pass-rushing prospect, Jenkins offers a lot: He's got a variety of moves and showed a lot at Florida State. Washington needs to put more pressure on the quarterback, and Jenkins can help do that.
The problem is that Rob Jackson is a much more complete player, as befits a six-year vet. Jenkins is also yet to show he can make a difference on special teams and has been slowed by injuries both in college and the pros.
Jenkins is eligible for the practice squad, but that's a dangerous game. If his coaches are to make him the player they know he can be, his addition to special teams has to come first.
Prediction: practice squad, promoted to active roster due to injury, 0.5 sacks, 10 tackles
Chris Thompson, Running Back
Chris Thompson is another guy staring at the roster from the wrong side of the bubble. The addition of Lache Seastrunk would seem to spell the end for Thompson, who was unable to make any sort of impact in his rookie year.
Thompson's injury history makes him a risk from the outset, but when there's a new coach in town who jettisons one running and drafts another, it's difficult to see how Thompson works within the new setup.
Seastrunk has to prove he can catch, sure, but Thompson's struggles in the return game weren't exactly a glowing endorsement of his hands either.
There's not really much to say, except that a stellar preseason is essential if he is to make the coaches think again about his potential.
Prediction: released as part of final roster cuts
Bacarri Rambo, Safety
Like Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo has to soak up everything he can from the vets ahead of him on the roster. Meriweather is one poor tackle away from a long suspension, so Rambo's own tackling absolutely has to improve.
After being benched three games into the season, it became clear that Rambo was more of a developmental prospect than he seemed in college. The Georgia product struggled with the pro game, giving up big plays and bouncing off players he should have wrapped up and brought down.
Mike Jones at The Washington Post indicated that the Redskins coaches are yet to give up on him, however. After acknowledging that Rambo faces new competition from Tanard Jackson, Jones spoke to Gruden and the new head coach showed a willingness to be patient with the young safety:
Rambo is still continuing to grow. He got some key playing time last year. I think he’s learned from what happened last year and he’s hoping to build that experience into better play and more stable play. We have some safeties out here that can compete, but to have veterans like Meriwether and Clark out there leading the way, it’s good for these young guys to see and then when they are in there they can progress and learn from them.
That's the key to Rambo's success. If the preseason shows growth in his tackling, Washington will likely keep him around and hope he can succeed Clark at free safety.
Projection: special teams contributor, two tackles on defense in relief of Ryan Clark
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