Sep 7, 2009, 8:03 AM EDT
Here’s my annual ranking of the front-line Redskins. There are 29 players in the rankings—the 22 regular position starters, a third wide receiver, a third-down back, punter, place kicker, long snapper, kickoff returner, and nickel back. Last week: #29 through #20 Today, #20 through #11:
20. Phillip Daniels, DE—Many figured he was done after missing all of 2008 with a knee injury. They figured wrong. If the blueprint for the defense works out he’ll be on the field on first down and then yielding to pass rush specialists because it will be second and long for the other team.
19. Ethan Albright, LS—He puts the ball where it needs to be. I have him downgraded somewhat because it seems to me that he’s replaceable. Really, how many bad snaps on kicks do you see in the course of the year? A lot of players can get it done and some of them can even serve as reserve linemen or at least play on other special teams. Albright is a one-trick pony.
18. Casey Rabach, C—Rabach is good when he doesn’t have a man over him but struggles with big nose guards. Still, he’s a workhorse who hates to come out of the lineup.
17. Cornelius Griffin, DT—Griffin’s job got a whole lot easier with the addition of Albert Haynesworth to play next to him. He’ll be 33 by the time the season ended so this could be his last hurrah as a starter.
16. Rocky McIntosh, WLB—He’ll always be something of a liability in coverage but other than that he’s everything you want in a linebacker—always around the ball and a solid fundamental tackler. It will be interesting to see what he can accomplish after recovering from the 2007 knee injury.
15. Chris Horton, SS—Horton made a spectacular debut, getting two interceptions and forcing a fumble in his first game as a starter. They couldn’t get him out of the lineup after that even though he appeared to hit a rookie wall and, like the rest of the team, wasn’t quite as effective as the year wore on.
14. Derrick Dockery, G—He seems to be fitting right in as though he never left. Dockery never was the most fundamentally sound lineman out there, relying on his sheer size to get it done. While you have to wonder about Buffalo letting him go despite not having much behind him, the position is far from one of concern.
13. Mike Sellers, FB—As long as they just have him do what he does best—apply crushing blocks and catch a couple of passes a game out in space—he’ll be fine. He’s not a short-yardage runner and the coaches over the past several years have given him a chance to demonstrate that at the worst possible times.
12. Andre Carter, DE—I’m probably a bigger believer in Carter than most. He will have his chance to have a big year with Haynesworth drawing a lot of attention in the middle of the line. Look for a double-digit sack total and a number of sack and strip plays out of Carter.
11. Hunter Smith, P—I considered putting him up higher but I want to see him in more situations. For example, I want to see if he can keep himself from thumping the ball into the end zone on the fly when punting from midfield, at least giving the team a chance to down it deep. No question about it, Hunter the punter can boom the ball.
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