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#HailMail: Offseason Moves And Position Predictions


It's Thursday, which means it's time for another edition of Hail Mail. Here's what Redskins fans want to know this week:

Who is the projected starter at tight end? -- Ronald B.

To be honest with you, Ronald, I don't believe there is going to be just one starter at tight end this year.

If you look back at Ron Rivera's history as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, he has always had one definitive option at tight end. That was Greg Olsen, who had at least 800 receiving yards in five of his nine seasons with the team and was voted to three straight Pro Bowls from 2014-16.

I don't believe Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner will have one player they consider to be "the guy" at the position, because as much as they like the players they have, none of them are considered to be one of the best at their position. I think we will have a clearer answer to the question of which tight ends will get more playing time.

Rivera, Turner and tight ends coach Pete Hoener are all excited about what Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers can bring to their offense. Rodgers has been on and off Injured Reserve for the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was a reliable pass-catcher for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers with 13 touchdowns.

Thomas, on the other hand, has only been playing the position for three seasons, but he's coming off a career-high 173 yards in 2019. Rivera also said that Thomas has "glimpses" of Olsen's ability and added that Hoener felt "very strongly" about Thomas' abilities.

So, if I had to pick which tight ends will get the majority of the snaps, it would be Thomas and Rodgers. The Redskins also like Jeremy Sprinkle and Hale Hentges, so this is subject to change during training camp.

Will the Redskins be looking for a big, tall, veteran wide receiver? -- Glen W.

They could always add someone else to the position, but I think the Redskins are satisfied with their receivers for now.

There are certainly still some veteran options out there, including Demaryius Thomas, Tavon Austin and Chris Hogan. Thomas is the best of that group, and at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, he fits the mold of a bigger receiver.

Bringing in Thomas might not be worth it, though, because they already have a younger option in Antonio Gandy-Golden who has almost the same frame. Gandy-Golden is one inch taller, just two pounds lighter and was one of the best receivers in college football last year with 1,396 yards. For perspective, that's 69 more yards than CeeDee Lamb, 229 more yards than Tee Higgins and 650 more yards than Henry Ruggs III. All three of those players were taken among the top 33 picks of the draft.

The Redskins' receivers also include Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon, all of whom will be part of the team's plans in 2020. So, while they could bring in a veteran, they seem to have confidence in the young talent already on the roster.

What is the vision for both Antonios? How do you see the team using them? -- Donte A.

To expand on the previous question, I think Gandy-Golden will compete to be the team's No. 2 option opposite McLaurin. Harmon and Sims have the advantage of more experience, but Gandy-Golden is adept at making contested passes. That, combined with his size, could elevate him to be one of the starters.

As for Antonio Gibson, Turner and the Redskins are going to use him in a variety of roles on offense. Both Rivera and vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith have called Gibson a Swiss army knife, and Rivera even compared him to Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey.

"He's shown some position flexibility playing in the slot, then he shows position flexibility playing in the backfield," Rivera said. "[Memphis] ran some wildcat with him behind the center taking direct snaps. This is a very versatile, young football player that we really think is going to be a guy that can get on the field for us early and contribute."

Turner has said that he views Gibson as a "true running back," but he could line up as a slot receiver. Gibson is fine with however they use him as long as he can help the team.

"Offense is something I'm very talented at," Gibson said. "I feel like I can dominate wherever they put me. Wherever they need me, I'm willing to go."

What did Dwayne Haskins score on his Wonderlic and what correlation does that have on performance in the NFL for players with high scores? -- Willie W.

Nothing has been officially released about Haskins' Wonderlic score, although the scores for the entire 2019 class were allegedly leaked last year. Either way, it has little bearing on how a quarterback's career will pan out.

For those who don't know, the Wonderlic test comprises of 50 multiple choice questions to assess a person's problem solving skills and ability to understand instruction. Sports Illustrated has a sample of version of the test, which you can try for yourself HERE.

The question of whether someone's Wonderlic score predicts their success is not a new one. But there does not appear to be any correlation between the two. There have been plenty of quarterbacks, such as Terry Bradshaw, who lad low scores and went to have successful careers. There are also players, like Ryan Fitzpatrick, who excelled at the test and had average careers.

That doesn't mean the Wonderlic is irrelevant. It's been a part of evaluating college quarterbacks for decades, and it is something NFL teams consider. But the important thing to remember is that it is only part of the process. Regardless of their scores, I believe any quarterback would rather be judged by his performance on the field than his test score.

How do the Redskins plan to utilize everyone's talents on the D-Line with a 4-3 defense? -- Connor S.

The Redskins have a plethora of talent on the defensive line, and the key to utilizing them will be rotation, rotation, rotation.

Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio plan on using a variety of lineups to keep the defensive line fresh throughout games. The rotation between Young, Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan is an easier problem to figure out; Sweat and Young could be the starters with Kerrigan coming in as a backup, but Rivera has already made it clear that he doesn't plan to use Young on every play. If there were 70 snaps in a game, he said, Young would play 40-45 of them.

The interior defensive line is going to bring the toughest challenge. Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis have all played well since they were drafted, so making sure they all get plenty of playing time could be difficult. They will likely compete during training camp to see who will get the top two spots, but one would assume all three of them will still be used regardless of where they are on the depth chart.

Either way, figuring out how to utilize everyone's talents on this defensive line is a good problem to have.

After the draft, the team seems stronger. But without a strong left tackle, how are we going to protect Haskins? -- Joe E.

There is no denying that figuring out who will be the starting left tackle is a top priority for Redskins, but they have brought in plenty of options to find the answer.

For starters, they signed Jeremy Vujnovich and Cornelius Lucas in free agency. Neither were considered among the top players available, but they both have starting experience. Vujnovich started a full season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, while Lucas has started a total of 16 games in his career.

Then, just moments after trading away Trent Williams to the San Francisco 49ers, the Redskins drafted Saahdiq Charles in the fourth round, and it sounds like Rivera has high expectations for him.

"He's a guy that has a chance to contribute early on, and quite frankly, because we're starting over, we're starting from the beginning, everything is on the table," he said at the conclusion of the NFL Draft.

Rivera has confidence in all three of these players, so while the Redskins may not have a starting left tackle yet, they are determined to find one.

Chase Roullier very quietly made the Redskins roster as a late-round draft pick and has been a starter for a while now. Is he the team's long-term answer at center? -- Nick C.

Roullier has started every game he has played in since the 2018 season, so he has been reliable for a while now. The 2020 season is an important one for him, though, because it's the last year of his rookie contract.

Roullier has improved since his professional debut in 2017; his Pro Football Focus grade has risen from a 70.6 to a 76.4 since he took over the starting center duties, and he has consistently shown off his proficiency as a pass-blocker. He received a grade of at least 70 in nine straight games to end the 2018 season, and he ended the 2019 season with an overall grade of 69.3.

As to whether he becomes the long-term answer for the position, that will largely depend upon how he performs this year. Smith has already laid out that he wants to see how players work out with the new coaching staff before considering contract extensions.

"I think that's pretty fair, personally, that, out of respect for the player, let's see how we jive," Smith said. "Let's see how we mesh before we extend somebody for four years or three years or whatever the case may be."

Have the Redskins considered adding guard Larry Warford to the 2020 roster? -- Roland J.

Warford is largely thought to be one of the best players on the free agency market right now, so I would imagine that several teams have considered signing him. It's unknown whether the Redskins are among that group, but I do know that the they have already brought in several players to find a new starting left guard.

Wes Martin, who started in five games last year, was already on the roster, so he will compete for the spot. There's also Wes Schweitzer, who the team signed in March. Schweitzer spent his first three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and started in 36 games as a left and right guard, so he has the resume to compete for the starting job as well.

The Redskins still have plenty of cap space, so they could add Warford, who has been to three straight Pro Bowls, if they felt that was the right decision. But it is apparent that Rivera and the Redskins are willing to bet on their younger players. I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to stick with what they have instead of signing him.

Are we giving any consideration to picking up ex-Titans defensive back Logan Ryan? -- Jim E.

Ryan is coming off one of the best seasons in his career with 113 tackles, four interceptions and 18 pass deflections. He would certainly be a welcome addition to the Redskins' secondary, but the Redskins already have already signed a player that fits his role.

Ryan has played as outside cornerback before -- that's what he did in four seasons with the New England Patriots -- and he held that role in his first season with the Titans. But for the past two seasons, he has primarily been a nickel cornerback, which is where Kendall Fuller performs best. Rivera said after the Redskins officially signed Fuller that he likes how he can come inside and play slot receivers.

With that being said, Ryan does offer the position flexibility that Rivera likes in players. His experience as an outside cornerback could be an advantage if Rivera and Smith decided to sign him. But for right now, there hasn't been any official interest in him from the Redskins. They seem to be content with Fuller, Ronald Darby and Fabian Moreau as their primary cornerbacks.

How do the Redskins' coaches feel the virtual player meetings are going? Are they able to assess the players' grasp of the playbook?

Not much has been said about the Redskins' virtual offseason program; it's likely that Rivera wants to keep things confidential for the time being. However, tight end Thaddeus Moss did provide an update on how the virtual meetings have been going since he signed with the team. Unsurprisingly, Moss said "absolutely it's been different."

"This is the first time I've had football meetings not in person, so it's definitely different. It's a different type of learning and a different kind of studying just with it being over FaceTime, over these virtual meetings."

Moss has already had to adjust his study habits in switching to an NFL offense. He prefers to physically write things down, so he said during his Zoom conference that he has about 25 pages of notes.

The NFL extended the virtual offseason program to the end of May, so Moss and the rest of the Redskins will have virtual meetings for a bit longer. We likely won't get a full report on how things went until the program has concluded, but what's important is that the rookies are able to learn the playbook in some fashion before training camp.

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