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Ranking the Redskins 1-10

Sep 8, 2009, 7:50 AM EST

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Clinton-Portis-2

Portis is the Redskins' bell cow

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 Yesterday, #20 through #11 Today, #1-#10

10. London Fletcher, MLB—He’s Greg Blache’s extension on the field, the unquestioned leader of the defense. Fletcher has lost a step or two but he makes up for it with smarts.

9. Chris Samuels, LT—There is a lot of nervousness surrounding Samuels. It’s not so much for his ability on the field but for his ability to stay on the field. Jim Zorn has acknowledged that Samuels has a knee injury that will have to be “managed” all year. Still, when he’s in there, he is rock solid.

8. Santana Moss, WR—Moss is right up there with any NFL receiver when it comes to having sticky hands and for his ability to make a jaw-dropping move after he catches the ball. The hope is that an improved receiving corps will take some attention off of him and allow him to be a bit more consistent.

7. DeAngelo Hall, CB—Both Hall and Blache have said that MeAngelo is dead and that Hall is determined to show that he has matured. For now, I’m going to buy that because there have been no indications to the contrary since he came to the Redskins at midseason last year. If Hall can get seven interceptions that will be the most of any Redskin since Martin Mayhew got that many in 1990.

6. Carlos Rogers, CB—Rogers reminds me of the old maxim that says that if most defensive backs had good hands they’d be wide receivers. Yes, the guy needs to hold on to the ball but at least he’s consistently in position to get his hands on passes. He takes a lot of flak here but I can name a bunch of other NFL teams that would love to have him dropping passes in their secondaries.

5. Brian Orakpo, SLB—This is very high to rank a rookie but the expectations here are sky high. Orakpo could well be the defensive difference maker that the Redskins have been missing for, oh, about two decades.

4. LaRon Landry, FS—If the rest of the defense works the way it should work, this will be Landry’s breakout season. A fierce pass rush can push a free safety from good to great.

3. Chris Cooley, TE—Like Moss, Cooley will benefit if the trio of 2008 second-round receivers can start to live up to expectations. If he can get some space in the middle of the field he can turn a medium-length pass into a huge play with his ability to run right through tackle attempts. There are some saying that the additions of Tony Gonzalez and Kellen Winslow to the NFC will keep Cooley from making another Pro Bowl appearance. It says here that Cooley makes it easily.

2. Albert Haynesworth, DT—As with Hall, I’m going to buy his words about not being satisfied with the huge payday because his actions have indicated that he wants to play hard. If so, he’ll be a nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators.

1. Clinton Portis, RB—Clinton Portis is the bell cow of the Washington Redskins. When he’s going well the Redskisn are controlling the game. When he’s not, they’re struggling.

  1. Boss Hog - Sep 8, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    I like your respect for Portis, but to me, there’s no question that in a leaguewide draft starting today — even for only one season — Fat Albert would be the #1 most valuable Redskin. If he plays even *almost* as well as he did in ’08, he’ll be the best defensive player in the division.

    My top 10 (I assume these rankings are only for one year, not about potential):

    1. Haynesworth

    2. Portis. Bell Cow is right.

    3. Landry. Probably a little optimistic with this one — expecting continued growth from the guy that could be the biggest playmaker on the whole D.

    4. Rogers. Agree with everything you said. Sucks that he can’t catch, but the more important fact about him is that when healthy he’s a top 10 cover corner in the league. That’s value.

    5. Samuels. The four games Samuels missed were by far the four worst games for the Skins’ offense. Without him, we can’t run, we can’t pass, we can’t do anything.

    6. Moss. I love Cooley too, but by any statistical or game-planning measure, Santana is without doubt the #1 option in the passing game. Still underrated on a national level, I believe — look at his numbers, look at the QBs he’s played with, and wonder how he could have done with a top passer.

    7. Fletcher. Such a solid security blanket that we don’t realize how good he is. I’d like to see a stat on drive-ending third-down tackles…he has to be pretty high up there.

    8. Cooley. Portis is the heart of the Redskins, but Cooley is the soul. Or something like that. In any case he’s a freaking good tight end.

    9. Andre Carter. For this year at least, he’ll have more sacks and be more solid in all aspects than Orakpo.

    10. DeAngelo Hall. I’m not worried about the “MeAngelo” stuff (didn’t witness it personally, and media narratives are often lazy and unfair), but I am worried that his transformation from Oakland bust to Redskin stud wasn’t complete. In other words: how good is he, really, as a cover guy? Something I read reminded me that in Oakland, he was playing Cutler, Rivers, etc, and down the stretch in DC it was a lot of Shaun Hill, Joe Flacco, etc. Still, he was very good for us last year and there’s at least some reason to believe he can keep it up.

  2. Joe in Raleigh - Sep 9, 2009 at 2:04 AM

    I think both of you guys overrate Landry. To me, he’s a defensive version of Jason Campbell. Sometimes he shows up and makes a big play. But a lot of times I see him getting beat. And very often he’s just the last guy to jump on the pile when a ball-carrier is already wrapped up. Like Campbell, I want to believe this will be his true break-out year — both of them certainly have the talent.

  3. Boss Hog - Sep 9, 2009 at 9:01 AM

    Yeah, Joe, I said I was being optimistic with that ranking, but you’re right — going purely on past play alone, he would be #9 or so… On the other hand, maybe I’m a victim of the hype, but I really think that with a newly aggressive D-Line we could see him in a more explosive, Sean Taylor-ish playmaking role this year.

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