With training camp set to begin on July 26, Redskins.com previews the current state of the Redskins' roster, starting today with the team's wide receivers.
If there is a positions group that could surprise people in the NFL, it's the wide receivers. Highlighted by the addition of former Seattle Seahawks' receiver Paul Richardson Jr., new pieces along with veterans have built chemistry with new quarterback Alex Smith and have already improved the passing game.
Addition(s): Trey Quinn (Drafted), Paul Richardson Jr. (Signed as free agent), Simmie Cobbs Jr. (College Free Agent), Shay Fields (College Free Agent), Darvin Kidsy (College Free Agent), Cam Sims (College Free Agent)
Subtraction(s): Terrelle Pryor Sr. (Signed with Jets), Ryan Grant (Signed with Colts)
CURRENT STATE OF THE UNIT:
With the addition of the 2017 NFL Passer Rating Leader in Smith, the Redskins look to upgrade their passing game. The Redskins ranked just 21st in the league last season in passing yards per game with 234.1, with Jamison Crowder being the only receiver on the team to have over 600 yards receiving.
Washington has been needing a No. 1 wide receiver for the 2018 campaign, and after three seasons of having at least 600 yards receiving, the fourth-year veteran has certainly been the most reliable. Crowder had six games where he came down with five or more receptions, averaging 85 yards per game during that stretch.
Another option as the first wide out could be in 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson. Despite playing just two games during his rookie season due to injury, the 6-foot-2 TCU product played in all 16 games last season and came down with just over 500 yards receiving while leading the team in receiving touchdowns with six.
The fact that Doctson was able to have a full season under his belt assured him that he has tremendous potential to be a weapon in Washington's offense.
"That's the biggest thing with confidence level," Doctson said. "If anybody can be confident, they'll be fine...That's all it is. It's kind of surreal when you first get here and last year was my first year playing, so it calmed me down. Now, it's back to where I was."
Losing Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Ryan Grant to free agency forced the Redskins to pursue a wide receiver with NFL experience. The addition of Paul Richardson Jr. from the Seahawks certainly gives Washington a dual-threat option, especially when it comes to deep-ball situations.
The 26-year-old comes off a career-best season with 44 receptions for 703 yards during his final year in Seattle. Richardson, who was second on the team in receptions over 20 yards with 13, has already been used in deep-ball situations during offseason workouts and has had a smooth transition with the new system and Smith.
What has helped the fifth-year receiver out of Colorado blend into the Redskins passing game is not only his comfortability around his new teammates, but his certainty that he can build off his successful year in 2017.
"Confidence gets you a long way," Richardson said. "If your confidence is right, you can get through everything else. I think being young, like me, my confidence is what carries me through. So if I can give any advice to the young guys, it's be confident in what you're doing. Even if you think that you're about to make a mistake or you don't know what you're doing, do it at a high speed and do it with a lot of confidence because you're going to feel better about what you're doing.
"When you go out there and you're unsure, you play slower, everything feels sloppy, you feel like you're a little off. At least if your confidence is up there, you're going to play faster, you're going to feel better about what you're doing and what you see on film."
With the final pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Redskins used their Mr. Irrelevant selection on one of college football's statistical leaders, former SMU wide receiver Trey Quinn. He led the nation with 8.8 receptions per game while recording 1,236 yards and 13 touchdowns during his final season in college.
The Lake Charles, La., native has already showcased his speed and is being utilized as a receiving option during offseason workouts. After running a 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds at the NFL Combine, Quinn has already been used in various spots in the Redskins' playbook and has caught a number of passes targeted to him.
Washington also returns Maurice Harris and Brian Quick, two veterans hoping to make bigger impacts in their young tenure with the team. The Redskins also hope that college free agents Simmie Cobbs Jr., Shay Fields, Darvin Kidsy and Cam Sims can turn into impactful players and that they can find added depth during training camp.
* WHAT TO WATCH:*
Not only will it be interesting to see how Smith connects with the receivers during the season, but who separates themselves as a No. 1 receiver. Although many might consider it an issue to not have that determined yet, head coach Jay Gruden prefers to have multiple options that are reliable in coming down with catches.
With a similar style passing game this season, he believes that having a number of options not only helps open things up for Smith but the entire offense.
"It will help out. It helps out the entire offense quite frankly," Gruden said. "So it will help out Jamison, it will help out obviously Jordan [Reed] when he gets back and Vernon [Davis] and the rest of the guys in there, and then those guys will help out – quite frankly – Paul, so they all work hand-in-hand."
Check out images of the Washington Redskins' seventh day of Phase 1 offseason workouts at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
One advantage that the Redskins' receiver core continues to have is that they are "considerably taller." With the newer attribute, Washington has been putting that to use by letting the group attack the ball and make plays in deep-ball situations.
The fact that the receivers are making plays has given the quarterbacks' confidence during offseason workouts to throw the ball down the field, looking to keep that same trend during training camp and carry it over into the season.
"I think that if you looked at our group over the years, we've got considerably taller," wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard said. "We have to take advantage of those skill sets. It's nice to have a guy like Josh [Doctson], Paul Richardson plays long and Jamison [Crowder] even though he has that smaller stature he plays long, Mo Harris, Brian Quick and even some of the younger guys are making plays. I think the confidence from the quarterback to throw the ball out there in those 1-on-1 opportunity long situations and seeing the guys coming down with those plays is real gratifying so far and hopefully we can continue to do that."