The Washington Football Team’s 53-man roster is set. The team finished its cutdown on Saturday and opted not to sign any players via waivers on Sunday, so their active roster appears to be largely finalized. There’s a sense of closure at this point, but uncertainty still lingers in several spots for the burgundy and gold. Which positions have the most to prove in the 2020 regular season if Washington is to outperform expectations?
Washington position groups with most to prove in 2020
There’s some potential at tight end for Washington, but the three players retained at this position amassed for 42 catches, 414 yards, and two touchdowns in total in 2019. However, tight end was a position that Dwayne Haskins frequently targeted down the stretch, so there needs to be some more production here.
Logan Thomas offers some optimism with his elite Relative Athletic Score of 9.65, but he still hasn’t caught more than 16 passes in a season. Jeremy Sprinkle underwhelmed when given opportunities last year, and Marcus Baugh has yet to catch an NFL pass. Thomas has some upside as a receiver, but Washington has to see it before they can believe.
Ron Rivera and Washington’s coaches are optimistic about the team’s linebacker group, and in a sense, that optimism is well-placed. They will be playing behind a stout defensive line, and several of the group’s players are elite athletes, notably Cole Holcomb and Kevin Pierre-Louis.
With that being said, there’s a general lack of top-end security at this position, and it still isn’t known who will constitute the starting linebacker trio on game day. Holcomb, Pierre-Louis, Thomas Davis, Jon Bostic, and Shaun Dion Hamilton all took first-team reps in camp.
No matter who starts, they’ll have to prove they can hold onto that role and produce when given a chance.
Terry McLaurin gives the Washington Football Team a baseline of confidence at wide receiver for the 2020 regular season, but around him, there’s essentially no proven talent. The beginning of the season will serve as an extended audition for those hoping to prove they can be playmakers.
Steven Sims showed flashes of his versatility and quickness last season. Dontrelle Inman brings solid athleticism and experience, and Antonio Gandy-Golden has the size and route-running nuance to produce early. But which one will seize their opportunity first and earn more chances later on?
Washington didn’t use a single draft pick on the cornerback position, despite entering the 2020 NFL Draft with three new starters. They’ll now move into 2020 with Kendall Fuller, Ronald Darby, and Jimmy Moreland as their starting trio, one year after they started Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, and Fabian Moreau.
Moreau will return as a high-upside rotational starter, but Fuller, Darby, and Moreau all have questions surrounding their 2020 projections. Can Darby stay healthy? Will Fuller be in a role that maximizes his versatility? Will Moreland be able to build on his elite athletic traits and break out as a starter?
That’s the thing about these kinds of questions: They can only be proven on the field.
On one side of the offensive line, Washington has three mainstays in Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and Morgan Moses. On the other side of the line, there’s no telling who will start.
Underwhelming 2018 third-round pick Geron Christian, journeyman Cornelius Lucas, and an injured Saahdiq Charles all have shares of the left tackle job. Wes Martin, Wes Schweitzer, and rookie Keith Ismael all might be potential choices at left guard.
With Haskins facing a crucial prove-it campaign at quarterback in 2020, the left side of the line isn’t a place you want to be a question-mark. Regardless, it is, and the players mentioned above will not only have to prove they can start but that they can legitimately protect Haskins and avoid hindering his development.
The weight on their shoulders is considerable, and that pressure won’t be lifting any time soon.