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Ranking the Redskins 11-20

Aug 25, 2008, 9:00 AM EDT

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I’m continuing here with my annual ranking of the Washington Redskins’ front line players. It’s purely subjective and it’s based on my perception of each player’s value to the team. To see what 30 positions are ranked, see the first installment, Ranking the Redskins 21-30. Here are the middle 10 players.

20. Mike Sellers, fullback—I’m not as big a Sellers fan as many are. Sure, he’s a beast but he doesn’t come close to utilizing his, well, beasthood. Look at the much-ballyhooed play where the he mows over Kenoy Kennedy of the Lions:

He doesn’t pick up much additional yardage after contact. All Kennedy has to do is lift his legs and trip him up. Sellers might be a valuable short-yardage weapon if he knew how to find daylight instead of trying to power his way for the half yard.

19. Shaun Suisham, kicker—He was starting to become reliable, nearly automatic, until he missed the biggest kick of his life in Seattle. It will take a while before my confidence in him is restored.

18. Rock Cartwright, kickoff returner—He’s a very disciplined returner, rarely going for the big runback but instead following his blockers to maximize each return.

17. Fred Smoot, nickel back—Smoot does an adequate job in coverage, although you’d like him to get back to the knack for making interceptions that he displayed prior to his two-year exodus to the tundra of Minnesota.

16. Jason Campbell, quarterback—So close and yet so far. If Campbell can get to be a fraction of a second quicker in making his decisions, he could well climb up to the coveted #1 spot on this list. Until that happens, he’ll have flashes of brilliance followed up by the critical mistake.

15. Randy Thomas, right guard—He’ll probably never regain the form that could have earned him Pro Bowl honors in 2003-2004 if not for the Skins’ dismal record. Still, he’s a very good performer, one of the best pulling guards in the league.

14. Cornelius Griffin, defensive tackle—The team’s 2004 MVP seems to be fully healthy for the first time since that monster season. At 31, Griffin likely has one or two more good years left in the tank.

13. Casey Rabach, center—He’s still at the point where he’s getting better with age as opposed to just getting older.

12. Ladell Betts, relief running back—The best draft pick of the Spurrier era (not that there’s much competition) is making a preseason statement that he deserves more carries in 2008 than the 93 he got last year.

11. Santana Moss, wide receiver—He has his bad moments (see the Green Bay game) and he’ll disappear from the offense for weeks at a time. But when he’s on, he’s the team’s one true home run threat and most feared offensive weapon.

  1. Sports Scatter - Aug 25, 2008 at 8:31 PM

    Buy the tone of your comments I’d think you mixed up 11-20 with 21-30. You had much nicer things to say about the last batch.

    Sellers is ranked pretty high for what you said about him. I don’t think anyone who has seen Lorenzo Neal (even geriatric Lorenzo Neal) would say Sellers value is as a run blocker, so I’d agree with a lot of what you say, but in a different tone. Sellers value is in the pass catching surprises he pulled off a couple years ago and tht he’s one of the few true fullbacks still in the league. Having said that, the West Coast likes to hit fullbacks when all else is covered, so he could catch some passes again. Broughton is probably outplaying him this spring in a pure blocking role, but will probably be cut because of sellers leadership role and experience. I wouldn’t have Sellers in the top 30.

    Suisham is a kicker, so you have excuse not to include him. However, in the tween gibbs era nobody lost the redskins more games and playoff opportunities than the kickers. It really stunk. By my count we only had two competent kickers and they were usually hurt. Surely we could have found some guy in brazil or africa to come in and kick better than the stuff we had… So maybe a kicker who generally makes his kicks and stays healthy is top 20 material for this team.

    I’d be shocked if Rock scored a TD this year, but I’ve never seen a more consistent kick returner. We had supposedly explosive morton, but he got nothing under Smith. Rock gets something every time. More importantly, he rarely comes down easy, usually bouncing like a pinball, whether out of the backfield or on returns.

    I’ve never thought of Smoot as a ball hawk, but man-to-man is his specialty. I think he plays injured most of the time and it effects him a lot, even though it is the one thing he doesn’t talk about. When he’s truly healthy he is definitely NFL starting material, but I don’t know if he has a body that can avoid being constantly nicked up.

    Campbell is not rankable to me. He has to go out and play a season.

    Thomas is pegged right on.

    It is hard to believe Griffin is only 31, as he has seemed to play and stay healthy like an old man his entire skins tenure. But, he has some special skills at the position that somehow the team just couldn’t find for about 15 years. He generally pushes guards and centers around like toys in two or three games and disappears into an average run stopping DT the rest of the games. It probably comes down to health. Not sure his body knows it is only 31.

    I think in the time the Redskins have had Rabach he has gone from their worst lineman (on a good line) in his first season to their best lineman last season. He might be top 10 material. He’s not the Bostic that can pull and hit LBs and CBs in the open field or trap back and slow two rushers completely out of a play, but he makes the calls and you never worry about the guy in front of him.

    Betts is an interesting choice up that high. It re-raises questions why Portis is even on the team and Baily is gone. Weren’t Betts and Portis basically drafted in the same round of the same draft? Proof to me Gibbs didn’t follow football while he was in Nascar. His biggest mistake by far, but I think Cerrato takes some culpability in this as he should have known better and stood up to the other two men. The main differences were Portis was proven as a starter and Betts was proven as a backup who had no wear on him and a few missed games with injury. I’m sure a more than competent insurance policy could have been found with that second rounder. Granted, Portis is a great back because of how he plays the whole game, but how much is a slight upgrade at running back worth? Especially when Betts is more of the sturdy pounder that fit the offense? RBs typically have 6-8 good years as starters and good ones can be found in the 2nd to 4th round of every draft. How many hall of fame cornerbacks are taken in the 2nd to 4th round? But the ultimate insult was giving up a second round pick that could really be helping now, as if the difference between portis and betts was a second round pick greater than the value of a baily. Anyways, just a little rant to say I think betts is ranked about right at 12 and the Skins will be perfectly fine if he starts.

    Like so many on the team, Moss is another injury after injury player. The one thing you just can’t seem to get around with this team is that injuries were the story of the Gibbs years. It is frankly amazing how well they did. But regardless of health, Moss suddely looked a lot like Steve Smith again when Collins got in there. Perhaps Zorn will get Campbell pulling the trigger and hitting Moss in stride the way the other QBs do. But last year shouldn’t be taken too seriously because the team didn’t make enough excuses about the offensive line. It was real bad to watch for anyone who grew up watching the hogs and the piglets and then a couple years of Grimm miracle jobs and even the modern dirtbags. You can’t hit your big deep threat on deep passes if you can’t block, and the line really stunk last year, no matter how much praise Fabini deserved for being a giant, inflexible tackle trying to play guard, and Heyer deserved for being an undrafted pillsbury doughboy rookie who somehow managed to be athletic enough to recover from his mistakes. I’d like to think that when Moss is the #1 player on the team right now, and really the only WR on the team proven to be a starting caliber NFL WR. But WRs are always pretty useless if the QB can only consistently get them the ball on screens. Quick slants should provide an upgrade in the amount of big plays Moss makes this year over the quick screens of the Saunders system(quick, name the last WR in a Saunders system to have 1100 yards receiving? 1000? 900?) without requiring better blocking. But the blocking should be better too. Moss will likely be double teamed all year, so Randel El should finally put up serious numbers. Moss will manage a big year anyways. Randel El has always been at his best on quick slants, and Moss is devastating whenever he has the ball for 3 seconds before his first hit.

  2. Rich Tandler - Aug 25, 2008 at 8:49 PM

    Scatter, I really appreciate your comments, but you’ve got to shorten them up. I can’t have the readers plough through all of that to get to any other comments. I can’t edit them, I can only delete. I don’t want to do that, but I’ll have to if you don’t shorten them considerably.

  3. Boss Hog - Aug 25, 2008 at 9:33 PM

    Rich, didn’t you have Santana Moss ranked as the #1 Redskin just two years ago? I know he’s had two straight inconsistent (all right, disappointing) seasons, but is it really possible to blame him alone when the Redskins’ passing attack generally has been so feeble? Santana is still just 29, and still has a quicker first step than almost any WR in football. I really think that if he ever had the chance to play with a top QB he’d put up pro-bowl numbers every season. There’s no way he’s not one of the 10 best Redskins, even if you are just judging by value in the upcoming season, and not long- or medium- term potential.

    Of your prospective top 10, I’d put him well ahead of Marcus Washington and Andre Carter, and basically on the same level as Shawn Springs, London Fletcher, and Chris Samuels. Only Portis, Cooley, Landry, and Jason Taylor are probably ahead of him at this point.

    Also, I can’t figure out for the life of me who that final top 10 guy can be — you’ve basically named all the starters except the above 9 guys… the only (hard-to-justify) possibilities left are Anthony Montgomery or Lorenzo Alexander. Todd Yoder? Ethan Albright? Or am I missing something?

  4. Rich Tandler - Aug 26, 2008 at 10:03 AM

    The Green Bay game really soured me on Santana, Boss. So did the moment in Seattle.

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