Dwayne Haskins became the Redskins’ quarterback of the future when they selected him in April with the 15th pick. There’s just one question: Is the future now? The team traded for Case Keenum as a bridge option with Alex Smith out for at least this season and Colt McCoy still rehabbing a broken leg. Keenum led the Vikings to a 13-3 record in 2017 after Sam Bradford was lost for the season, but that team had a strong running game and one of the league’s best defenses. Keenum is a smart veteran who threw for 3,890 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, but also had 15 interceptions while playing for the Denver Broncos, his fifth NFL team.
Haskins is the most physically blessed quarterback on the roster, but he must master the team’s offensive scheme while learning how to do things such as run the huddle, audible at the line of scrimmage and deal with defenses trying to trick him into making rookie mistakes. The sooner he can grasp things mentally, the sooner this will be his team.
McCoy also will be in the race as the quarterback with the most experience in Gruden’s system. He is a bit of a gunslinger and has had issues with turnovers and staying healthy. Ball security is expected to be a key factor in who wins the job.
The Redskins are expected to use both future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and 2018 second-round draft pick Derrius Guice in their No. 1 role, with running backs coach Randy Jordan saying he anticipates a 60-40 split one way or the other.
Last season, Peterson proved that time hasn’t caught up to him. He carried the load for 16 games and surpassed 1,000 yards for the first time since 2015, making it likely he will be named the starter. Guice was expected to be the lead back a year ago before he tore his ACL in his first preseason game. With both players, along with receiving back Chris Thompson, expected to see sizable workloads, it will be interesting to see how carries are divvied up.
Jamison Crowder signed a $28.5 million deal with the New York Jets and the Redskins did not address the slot receiver position in free agency, leaving Trey Quinn, the last pick of the 2018 draft, as the heir apparent. Quinn is a strong route runner with good hands, but he played just three games as a rookie because of ankle injuries.
Third-round draft pick Terry McLaurin is expected to be Quinn’s main competition, and he has the ability to play both the inside slot position or on the outside. He already has a strong connection with Haskins from their time together at Ohio State.
Shawn Lauvao’s injury-plagued time with the team is over, leaving left guard to be filled by a newcomer. The Redskins traded for tackle Ereck Flowers, the No. 9 pick in the 2015 draft, with the intention of moving him to guard. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan likes Flowers’s combination of size (6-foot-6, 330 pounds) and strength and cited Ty Nsekhe as a recent example of a tackle benefiting from moving inside.
Flowers’s top competition is fourth-round draft pick Wes Martin, who is known for his strength but has a lot to learn about the mental aspects of the game. Fifth-round pick Ross Pierschbacher and Tony Bergstrom also are in the mix.
The starting spots on defense are mostly settled, save for inside linebacker following Mason Foster’s surprise release Tuesday. But the departure of Preston Smith on a $52 million contract with the Green Bay Packers left the starting edge rusher position open opposite Ryan Kerrigan. Ryan Anderson was drafted in the second round in 2017 as insurance for Smith’s potential departure but hasn’t shown the ability to handle the starting job, recording just 32 tackles and two sacks over two seasons.
The Redskins traded back into the first round in April to make sure the position was solidified, taking Montez Sweat out of Mississippi State with the No. 26 pick. Coaches and teammates raved about Sweat’s size (6-6, 262 pounds), quickness and athletic ability during summer workouts. Anderson will have every opportunity to win the job, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Sweat ends up with the first team sooner or later.
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