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#PickSix: X-Factors And Position Competition


The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the opinions of the team.

There's about five weeks until the Washington Football Team kicks off training camp in Richmond, Virginia, which seems like an eternity right now, but there's still plenty to talk about as we wait for the second season of the Ron Rivera era.

Washington had plenty to be pleased with after the 2020 season. Finishing 7-9 is not ideal, but it did win the NFC East, and now Rivera and his players have eyes on making an even bigger statement as reigning division champs. The team has brought in plenty of new talent over the past few months to help speed that process along with the likes of Curtis Samuel, William Jackson III and several others. With multiple positions stacked with talent, all signs point to Washington have a much more competitive roster.

The fanbase has questions, and we have answers. So here are six things that the Burgundy and Gold faithful want to know:

@DanielTFXC: What is the biggest X-factor on the offensive side of the ball for the WFT?

Great question, Daniel. Ryan Fitzpatrick would be an easy answer here -- William Blackmon said on Washington Football Today that he never used to know what to expect from a Fitzpatrick-led offense -- but for me, I think Logan Thomas is set to take another step in his second season as a No. 1 tight end. I would say all of the best offenses in the league have at least a capable tight end. They're an added tool that spreads a lot of defenses thin. Him having another year to work with Pete Hoener is going to make it difficult for defenses to truly lock down any of Washington's options. He might not have better numbers since there are more playmakers on the field, but the threat of him making a play down the middle of the field is something defenses will have to account for.

@KalebRaybon: Who will be the biggest surprise roster MAKE and roster CUT?

So I'm not going to predict who is going to be cut from the roster, Kaleb. I think it would be a little unfair to make that kind of speculation in June. But I will give you an under-the-radar guy who could make the roster: Dax Milne. Yes, he was one of the final picks in the draft, but players like Kam Curl should stop us all from looking too heavily into that. Milne was one of Zach Wilson's favorite targets last season at BYU for a reason. He was one of the most productive receivers in all of college football in 2020 because he knows how to get open, which is a pivotal skill to have as he works out of the slot. There's also his special teams experience to consider as well. The receiver group has a lot of talent, but if he can handle a smaller role and maybe prove his worth on special teams, I think he has a good shot.

@BuggmanJR: Hey Zach. Glad to see the mailbag back up. With the addition and McCain and Collins coming back into to mix, what type of role(s) do you see Curl playing?

I'm happy to see that you put the option for Curl to be in multiple roles, because I think that's exactly what could happen this year. He might not have a specifically defined role, but that can be a good thing. Chris Harris likes how intelligent Curl has proven to be. He has the mental fortitude to handle a variety of positions, which is not necessarily a common trait. He could fit in as a strong safety, a free safety of go back to the buffalo nickel role where he started at last season. And say that he doesn't get a starting role; he could easily be a spot starter at all three positions. I'm sure there are some people who would like to see Curl walk in as the Day 1 starter, but having someone who recorded 88 tackles and three interceptions as a backup isn't a bad option, either.

David B.: Will John Bates be just a blocker like a Donnie Warren in the early Joe Gibbs years, or is John Bates actually going to be given a chance to catch the ball?

I've been on the John Bates hype train ever since I took a deep dive into what he can do. Yes, he is an exceptional blocker, according to his former Boise State teammates and coaches, but he's also underrated as a pass-catcher. I'll spare you from repeating for the 100th time how Todd McShay gave some praise to his hands, but I will tell you that Boise State's tight end coach Kent Riddle said Bates is good at coming down with contested catches. He's not going to be a No. 1 tight end this year; that role will go to Thomas. But if he can manage to be the second or even third option at the position, he'll be just another weapon for Fitzpatrick or Taylor Heinicke.

Ben D.: I know Jamin Davis can play all three linebacker positions, but which one would help the team the most this season?

This is going to sound like a cop out at first, but I think it's going to depend on how much information he can retain. Davis saw a lot of time at middle linebacker during OTAs and minicamp. That's where he played in college, and the coaches wanted to start him at a spot that is most familiar to him. If he can effectively lead the defense and make the calls, then I could see him staying there. That can take some time to learn, though, so I could see him playing as a strong side linebacker because of his strength as well as his ability to set the edge and make tackles at the line of scrimmage. But all of his coaches have spoken about how smart Davis is as well, so don't count out anything until training camp.

Chris G: Who do you feel will be Antonio Gibson's backup

I honestly don't think anyone will have a specific "backup role" in this offense. It'll likely be similar to last year, meaning there will be a committee approach to the position. That makes the most sense to me, because there are so many talented running backs on this roster. Labeling just one as the backup would come off as a disservice to the others. You could say maybe J.D. McKissic is that player, but Peyton Barber had a key role as a short yardage option. We also don't know what Jaret Patterson could be if he makes the roster. So to give you a definitive answer, it's going to be all of them because they bring different skills to the table.