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Need to Know: Ranking the Redskins’ rookies—Who will have the most impact in 2016?

Jun 28, 2016, 5:36 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 28, 30 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. It will be 76 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 17; Preseason opener @ Falcons 44; Final roster cut 67

Ranking the rookies: Who will have the most impact in 2016?

It’s hard to quantify “impact”, especially when comparing players across different positions on both offense and defense. For this post I’m looking at who will play the most and who will be most relied upon the most to play key roles. This is for this coming season only; I’m not projecting anything beyond 2016.

CB Kendall Fuller (3rd round)—Although he will have some competition, the bet here is that he will emerge as the slot cornerback. Technically this is not a starting role but usually the nickel back plays well over half of the defensive snaps. Stopping other teams’ three- and four-receiver sets will be critical to improvement in the defense.

DL Matt Ioannidis (5th)—I think he has a shot at starting at nose tackle at some point during the season, although the odds are better that he is part of the D-line rotation. I see him shaping up like Kyshoen Jarrett did last year, starting off with a small role and then earning more and more playing time in important situations as the year goes on.

WR Josh Doctson (1st)—The top draft pick is third on this list for two reasons. For one thing, rookie receivers generally take a season to learn the NFL game before they have a big impact. There are exceptions, of course, but they generally take time. Also he is currently the fourth receiver on the depth chart and his snaps will be limited.

LB Su’a Cravens (2nd)—I debated if I should put him higher on this list but I’m not sure that he can master multiple positions on defense to make plays on defense immediately. I see him being relatively quiet through the first few months of the season, catching on in December, and then really showing what he can do in 2017.

LB Steven Daniels (7th)—We’re getting into guys who may have to spend some time on the practice squad before having an impact on Sundays. Daniels has the right mindset to succeed but the depth chart at inside linebacker is very crowded and it’s hard to see Daniels getting much playing time.

RB Keith Marshall (7th)—Unlike the situation that his fellow seventh-round pick is facing, Marshall has plenty of opportunity. Matt Jones will start at running back and Chris Thompson will hold down the third down duties but as of right now the backup/relief spot is wide open. Unfortunately, Marshall was unable to do much to win the job in the offseason as he was hampered by a hamstring injury during minicamp. He’ll get another shot in training camp and if he doesn’t make the most of it he could be destined for the practice squad.

QB Nate Sudfeld (6th)—I trust I don’t have to go into much detail to make everyone realize that if Sudfeld takes the field this year the Redskins are in trouble. Big trouble.

In case you missed it 

  1. colorofmyskinz - Jun 28, 2016 at 6:31 AM

    I think Cravens is ranked too low and should be at the top of the list. I think we will see him being used in interesting role early versus later.

    Marshall should be ranked above Daniels. Based on our depth and based on the fact that we know Thompson is basically a paper doll we’re going to see the emergence of Marshall big time this year. I predict Marshall will work his way into a firm number two position based on Thompson most likely picking up an injury.

    • Trey Gregory - Jun 28, 2016 at 8:29 AM

      So you don’t believe in Chris Thompson because of injuries but you’re doubling down on Keith Marshall? Wow.

      • John - Jun 28, 2016 at 11:35 AM

        Remember, this is the same guy that thinks Trent Murphy will be a beast. It has to do with a mindset that any average guy coming from another team will all of a sudden be a star here. Good luck with that one.

        • colorofmyskinz - Jun 28, 2016 at 10:39 PM

          I don’t call Murphy and his accolades in college average. I am going on a hunch that 210 with little wear compared to 189 with more wear wins – Marshall. Call it dumb but applying physics and Gruden philosophy on that one. Marshall has one major injury in college and never regained starting status due to Gurly. Even Gruden said he liked that because there was less overall work as a RB. Thompson has been injured since day one with compounding injuries. Hey it is a guess. We will see come November who was right. I am entitled to my opinion just like everyone else is. And I want to be excited about this team now that Snyder is out of the way. I like our daft picks and I like Scot. Plain and simple.

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 29, 2016 at 1:28 AM

          I understand wanting to be excited about your team, I do too. But how does blasting a RB who played well for us while praising a 7th round draft pick, who hasn’t played a NFL snap, getting excited for your team? Can’t you be excited about Thompson and Marshal?

          Or at least be realistic about it. You said it yourself, Marshall has been healthy for a while now. All last season. But he didn’t do anything (Gurly wasn’t in Georgia last year BTW). But if this guy had so much potential and so much talent, then why did every NFL team allow him to drop to the bottom of the seventh? Is it possible that this guy got a bunch of hype coming out of high school, followed by a bunch of excuses; then a bunch of hype after running a 4.3 40 at the combine, followed by a bunch of excuses; but he’s really not that very good? What have you seen from him that makes you think he’s so good? And forget what Gruden or McCloughan say after they draft them. What are they supposed to say? “Oh this guy is terrible and doesn’t stand a chance to make the team. We blew a pick!” ? Or are they going to hype them up to? It’s PR 101.

          Thompson really isn’t as injury prone as you’re trying to make him sound and he played great for us man. If you want to be excited, be excited. But can you be excited about reality? About the actual players who have to get excited about? There’s quite a few on this team for a change.

        • colorofmyskinz - Jun 29, 2016 at 6:10 AM

          Thompson has played 19 games out of 48 due to injury. Every year he has had major injuries impeding play except for last year, we actually got 13 games out of him. He is a great recieving back and fast. Has good production when on the field and I cheer him to stay on the field. The problem is he can’t. A running back with a shoulder surgery is a major problem. What is the first body part an RB leads with, yep that shoulder.

          When I called him a paper doll I was not saying he sucked, was merely saying he can’t stay on the field. Only being able to contribute 40% of the time due to injury is nothing to write home about. It is not his fault, it is his genetics and size. I am merely saying I have a hunch about Marshall being able to stay on field more than Thomson. Hey Chubb and Gurly did not contribute to Marshall finding his way back to starter did they?? Chubb and Gurly took away Marshalls roll after his majo injury. That would be like having Bell, AP, and Lacy on your team where lacy is getting no starting time and saying he sucked. Other teams were not willing to take a risk on That Marshall story and we were. His draft grade was ranked 13 of 23 backs drafted. That is not bad.

          We will see.

    • Rich Tandler - Jun 28, 2016 at 9:31 AM

      Thompson is going to get injured but Marshall will be the picture of health? Really? OK.

  2. Jlb12300 - Jun 28, 2016 at 6:42 AM

    I would put Fuller at the top of the list also. He will be playing with a chip on his shoulder this season. Doctson over Ioannidis . Doctson will be taking time from Jackson and Garson. Ioannidis might get 25% of the snaps this year. I think it will take him a good year or so to get where the coaches feel comfortable with him. Cravens will get some snaps but at what position. Depth at both positions will limit his snaps so I see a lot of special teams play this year for him.

    • Trey Gregory - Jun 28, 2016 at 9:37 AM

      I’ve watched Doctson close for a couple years now. I think he’s an amazing talent and I’m very excited to have him on my team. But, as a Big 12 fan who has seen multiple Big12 receivers go to the NFL, I think it’s more realistic to expect him to have a limited role this year. He’s probably more pro ready than some people think but less than what others think. He’s been used to getting wide open in a crazy high octane offense every play and that’s simply not going to happen for him in the NFL.

      But I don’t think that’s a big deal. We didn’t right. We drafted a guy before we needed him so he could develop before he has to start or take a lot of reps. Why would we take reps from Garcon and Jackson if we don’t have to? We’re paying them a ton of money and they’ll be gone next year. Why not get everything we can out of them and protect our first round pick? Garcon, Jackson, Crowder, Reed, Paul, and Davis are a great group of receivers. No need to rush a rookie in the field.

      Fuller though, we don’t have anyone with his potential to be our nickel corner.

      • Jlb12300 - Jun 28, 2016 at 10:39 AM

        I like Doctson potential. I think that they will use him to sub Jackson and Garson at times also will be in some 4 reciver sets. He is not good in the slot so the only snaps he can get is from Garson and Jackson. And I do see Jackson playing a few snaps as a slot reciver like last year.

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 29, 2016 at 12:58 AM

          I can see him coming in for Jackson when it’s a short field or the redzone. For all of Jackson’s talents, he’s not much of a redzone threat. Garcon has use on every down and distance. And I don’t think they’re taking Crowder out of the slot unless he’s hurt or needs a break. Then maybe Grant goes in. I don’t know that I like the thought of Jackson taking that over. Doesn’t seem to accentuate his strong suit.

          Anyway, I’m sure Doctson will play. I just don’t think it will be a lot unless Garcon or Jackson go down. He could almost become a RedZone specialists with Davis this season.

    • wvredskins - Jun 28, 2016 at 6:54 PM

      I don’t know,
      I could see dunbar surplanting a role as that nickel corner if he keeps progressing. Either way though we are in good hands.

      • Trey Gregory - Jun 29, 2016 at 1:00 AM

        People shouldn’t sleep on Dunbar. He play well for all things considered. Now with another offseason to learn the position, he could end up taking a lot of reps while Fuller learns.

  3. rlundy1123 - Jun 28, 2016 at 7:18 AM

    I might flip Cravens over Doctson….I have a hard time seeing Doctson getting a lot of snaps or having much impact on the field this year, although we may see some flashes occasionally.

    Rich, would they really move Cravens around in various spots this year? It seems to me like that would be a lot to ask of a rookie. I might want to get him comfortable in one position this year and then open things up next offseason. I know they have moved young guys into new positions (Dunbar, Niles Paul), but that was different than what they seem to have in mind for Cravens.

    • Rich Tandler - Jun 28, 2016 at 8:06 AM

      Problem is, he’s not big enough to keep him at ILB full time and not fast enough to keep at safety. They have to teach him multiple positions.

      Kyshoen Jarrett learned nickel CB and both safety spots last year. It’s not like he would have to learn multiple positions in all situations. He needs to know what to do in nickel situations.

    • John - Jun 28, 2016 at 11:43 AM

      He’s working at inside backer to see the bigger picture for now. They will narrow things down during training camp. He will be a nickel/dime backer (role player) picking up backs and tight ends and blitzing, much like Monte Coleman back in the day.

      • colorofmyskinz - Jun 28, 2016 at 10:43 PM

        Totally agree here

      • Trey Gregory - Jun 29, 2016 at 2:48 PM

        I think Cravens is an exciting player who we need to be patient with. Draft picks, especially out of the first round, aren’t necessarily meant to be I stand contributors. I respect teams who take their time developing players over putting them on the field before they’re ready.

        Versatility is key with Cravens. We drafted him over some very good prospects because of that versatility. If he was so versitile, big, and ultra athletic he would have been a first round pick. But he can be good at a lot of things instead of a great situational player. If we do this correctly.

        I have to disagree with the size about being an ILB just a little bit though. Obviously he’s not a traditional ILB and its best to have a big guy who can also fly around the field. But I believe that the new era NFL ILB will be smaller and more athletic to use mostly as cover guys. We’re in the midst of a league transition where the passing attack is king. It’s becoming more and more about being able to pass and stopping the pass. Guys like Cravens can fill that role but still get sideline to sideline quick and play physical at he line. Not as physical as big prototypical linebackers but good enough to get the job done. I think that’s the future of the position.

  4. redskins12thman - Jun 28, 2016 at 7:50 AM

    For whatever reason, i don’t think this season’s rookies will have anywhere close to the impact as the rookies did last season. My gut says only four rookies will see the field:

    1. Cravens – sees most snaps this season among rookies (defense and special teams); either paired against tight ends on suspected pass plays or blitzs; 2 sacks, 1 interception

    2. Doctson – sees 2nd most snaps this season (either sparing a starting receiver on wide, right side or in a 4 receiver set); a couple of TDs

    3. Fuller – fights for playing time with Dunbar and Phillips (mainly as 3rd corner / nickel)

    4. Ioannidis – some snaps; size limits playing time, but his passion will allow him to show more favorably compared to some of the other d-linemen

    5. Sudfeld – either always healthy, game-day scratch (90%) or outside chance on practice squad (10%)

    5. Daniels – practice squad (unless emerges as a key special teams contributor during training cap and gets offered one of the last roster spots)

    6. Marshall – practice squad (never healthy enough to challenge for a roster spot)

    • Trey Gregory - Jun 28, 2016 at 8:31 AM

      You probably have that feeling because last year’s class was unusually productive. It’s very unlikely we have a repeat year like that. People are going to be disappointed if they expect draft classes like that every year.

    • mtskins - Jun 28, 2016 at 9:43 AM

      Another reason might be that the first three players they drafted this year are in positions where we already have some depth, especially if you count Cravens as a LB. Last year the rookies seemed to fall in positions where there was immediate opportunity: Tackle/Guard, OLB, RB, Slot WR. Fortunately they all pretty much took advantage, think this year’s class is set up to contribute more in 2017.

    • lezziemcdykerson - Jun 29, 2016 at 5:40 PM

      I’m high on Cravens as well. All off season all you’ve heard is “great instincts.. still learning the playbook but he’s close” Now granted our LB core is a bit crowded, doubt he’s pushing anyone out the way there, I think he makes the most out of the limited situations he’s on the field and eventually plays some safety. Maybe as early this year. I say if by week 4 he’s making plays with limited snaps Barry may start to tinker with him in different spots.

      • Trey Gregory - Jun 29, 2016 at 5:59 PM

        That sounds pretty reasonable to me. He could become a very good player but chances are he gets beat from time to time while he’s learning. No need to put him out there to fail before he’s truly ready. Ease him into it. But if he shows aptitude for it early, then by all means.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jun 29, 2016 at 6:27 PM

          The motto for this year is “Tempered Optimism” Optimism nonetheless which is more then we could wish for in recent years.

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 30, 2016 at 2:56 AM

          Man, I completely agree. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. Just that it’s year two of a rebuild and maybe we overachieved a bit last year. It’s very possible that this team is better and loses more games or wins 9 but doesn’t win the division. There’s still some growing and development to do.

          Some people seem to have this idea that we will pick up at the same spot from last year but because now we have Junior Gallette and Josh Norman we’ll win a game or two more. I’m just saying, other teams got better too and we possible took a step back in other spots. Chances are we face tougher competition this year and a few balls won’t bounce our way. That’s no reason to get down. Things still appear to be headed in the right direction and we still have a lot to be optimistic about.

        • lezziemcdykerson - Jun 30, 2016 at 3:41 PM

          Yep. Junior is still a first year guy in the system. Mental reps only go so far. As is Josh Norman. Now strength of schedule os a relative term because teams fluctuate from season to season. Remember the Packers weren’t that good last year, we probably could’ve beat them in the regular season but the playoffs are a different monster. I expect to look competitive. I’m not counting steps in wins I’m counting them in quality of play. Penalties or gaffs (see Ryan Grant vs ATL) I consider growing pains but if we’re getting blown out… I’m not happy.

        • Trey Gregory - Jun 30, 2016 at 9:09 PM

          You literally took the words out of my mouth. I agree with all of that. I have high hopes for Junior but we won’t know until we see it. Even Preston Smith, the guy was awesome last year but we don’t know if he’s going to repeat or get better.

          I don’t care about the number of wins either. I just want to see positive steps forward and for my team to be competitive.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jun 28, 2016 at 9:03 AM

    I think Dunbar will give Fuller a run for his money as 3rd CB off the bench.

    • lezziemcdykerson - Jun 29, 2016 at 5:41 PM

      Yeah Dunbar is supposedly looking good in jerseys and shorts. Phrasing boom!

  6. pillenwerfers - Jun 28, 2016 at 9:08 AM

    Let’s see. Cravens is too small to play linebacker, too slow (4.7 forty) to play safety, too small to play on the defensive line, and not quick enough to play corner. Where on offense will he be playing??

  7. troylok - Jun 28, 2016 at 9:26 AM

    I’m sure this is a little unfair, but I can’t help but think of Chase Minnifield when I hear about Fuller. He’s a DB with a football pedigree who is coming off of injury. I’m just not willing to get behind a player like that until he shows he is motivated and has no lingering effects from the injury.

    Barry showed us a little of what he has planned for Cravens when he had him work with the ILB’s in OTA’s. They plan on using him as a dime ILB. I think his reps will be limited – especially initially as he learns the role. This is a role that will evolve over time. As Barry gets more comfortable with it, they will probably use this package more often, but I can’t see Cravens becoming a full time safety or ILB in his first season.

    My money is on Ioannidis having the biggest impact and that is based on the level of competition for nose tackle. Ioannidis doesn’t have prototypical size but he has strength in abundance. He is very coachable and there will be a big improvement from beginning to end of preseason.

  8. kenlinkins - Jun 28, 2016 at 10:17 AM

    I am waiting to see Rich’s up dated list after the first two preseason games….

  9. renhoekk2 - Jun 28, 2016 at 10:55 AM

    The defense needs the most change from last season. So the rookies seeing the most action hopefully are on that side of the ball. I agree with Rich’s list the way it is. The only reason I see Doctson getting more snaps than Cravens is because of the positions they play. WR based on reps and formations lends itself to more of a rotation than ILB or S. Of course Cravens will probably see ST snaps that Doctson won’t so Cravens can have an impact there as well.

  10. zatoichi7 - Jun 28, 2016 at 11:05 AM

    udfa robert kelley might be the biggest suprise of camp.

  11. troylok - Jun 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM

    I would be happy if that happened. One thing is for sure: some running back needs to step up to take the number two spot behind Jones. Archives

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