Most football fans have grown used to the ‘Top 100 NFL Players of _____” list that NFL Network has put together the last few years using real NFL player opinions and votes to gauge the ranking of current players. This year the Redskins had three players on that list, Pierre Garcon, Desean Jackson, and Trent Williams. As we continue to grow closer to the season, we thought we would break down the top ten most important Washington Redskins of 2014.
Ten Most Important Redskins of 2014
We’ll start at 10 and work backward.
10) David Amerson (Cornerback) – I almost put DeAngelo Hall here, but to be honest, I believe this year will be a big one for David Amerson. Amerson showed signs in year one that he will be an asset to the Redskins defense for years to come. His size (6-1, 205) is the prototype for NFL corners, and he possesses extreme ball skills. His one glaring weakness is his footwork, but that also showed signs of improvement as the year progressed. 2014 should be a breakout year for Amerson.
9) Perry Riley (Inside Linebacker) – The Redskins will have to find someone to step up and fill the void left by retired LB London Fletcher in 2014. Who better to step up to try to fill that void than the guy Fletcher mentored for the last few seasons? Riley was the top tackler on the Redskins defense in 2013, unseating Fletcher, who led the team in tackles since he came to Washington in 2007.
8) Ryan Kerrigan (Outside Linebacker) – Ryan Kerrigan is on the brink of HUGE things in the NFL. Quite honestly, he could be the MOST important player on the Redskins defense. The only reason he comes in this low is that the Redskins have several important pieces. I believe Kerrigan will have 12+ sacks this coming season and if that number is coupled with some forced fumbles or, in fact, is anywhere in the ballpark of 15-18 sacks, then Ryan could be the most important player on the roster.
7) Jordan Reed (Tight End) – Much has been said about Jordan Reed this offseason. The facts are clear, Reed only played in nine games a year ago but was the second-best receiver on the team. Being as Reed is a former quarterback, he knows exactly where to go on the field to find the perfect openings. Add that to the fact that he is a “joker” style tight-end with the ability to be a third or fourth receiver on the field, basically, and you have a dynamic weapon. There are only three tight ends since 2010 who have a hundred-yard game; two of those players played for the same team (Patriots), and Reed is the third. It’s my opinion that Jordan Reed will be the breakout player of 2014 for the Washington Redskins.
6) DeSean Jackson (Wide Receiver) – If you would have told me last year that DeSean Jackson would be a Washington Redskin, I would have questioned your sanity. Fast-forward a year, and here we are. Recently we broke down exactly what DeSean Jackson brings to the Redskins offense. The fact is he opens everything on offense up with the way he stretches the field with his lightning speed and agility.
5) Pierre Garcon (Wide Receiver) – Pierre Garcon broke the Redskins single-season total catches mark a season ago despite the Redskins having a bad year. Fact is Garcon saw double team after double team a year ago because he was the most effective thing in the Redskins offense. Adding DeSean Jackson to the mix means teams will not be able to do that anymore. Garcon’s number one attribute is his ability to gain yards after the catch (YAC). The duo of Jackson and Garcon is one that opposing defensive coordinators are already losing sleep over, trying to figure out a way to stop.
4) Brian Orakpo (Outside Linebacker) – Some may criticize the fact that Orakpo is this high on the list. But a quick look at the facts will tell you that with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said earlier this offseason that they are going to “turn the linebackers loose this year,” that means Orakpo will be unleashed on opposing quarterbacks. That spells bad things for opposing teams.
3) Alfred Morris (Runningback) – Despite having a bad year in 2013, the Redskins still managed to get 1200+ yards from Alfred Morris. He has been the catalyst for the Redskins offense the past two seasons, and with the addition of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts (plus a healthy Jordan Reed), the rushing game should open up even more. NFL teams will be scrambling all year to catch up to the passing game as they focus on the dynamic weapons Washington has…in the process, Alfred Morris will be able to run free without eight-man defensive fronts pestering him.
2) Trent Williams (Left Tackle) – Trent Williams has possibly the most important job on the Washington Redskins offense. He is responsible for protecting third-year quarterback Robert Griffin III’s blindside. Protecting the blindside for a left tackle means he is matched up against the best opposing pass rusher week in and week out. That’s a role Trent Williams, in fact, loves, and he is one of the best in the NFL. It should be said that Williams was the top-ranked Redskins player on the NFL’s Top 100 list (60).
1) Robert Griffin III (Quarterback) – The worst-kept secret is obviously that the most important player that will take the field for the Washington Redskins in 2014 will be Robert Griffin III. The fate of the franchise rests in his hands (and legs). Now that he is fully recovered from a major knee injury/surgery, Griffin is poised to have a year more like his rookie season than like 2013. In 2013 defenses looked to slow Griffin’s rushing ability by stacking the box with eight-man fronts; that will not be an option in 2014. As stated above, teams will have to focus on more than just Pierre Garcon and Alfred Morris in 2014, which will change how they defend the Redskins altogether. If teams attempt to stack eight-man fronts, they will have to deal with DeSean Jackson, who is famous for taking the tops off defenses, Pierre Garcon, who has made the screen pass a new found art form, and Andre Roberts, who is a fearless slot receiver that makes his living across the middle. That’s not even mentioning Jordan Reed…Griffin has tons of weapons now; this will be his make-or-break year as a professional.