2012 NFC East Way-Too-Early Awards: Washington Redskins

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 18, 2012

2012 NFC East Way-Too-Early Awards: Washington Redskins

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    See that shot of Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan? What you can't see is that he's reading an advance copy of Bleacher Report's NFC East blog's Way-Too-Early Awards for his Redskins. 

    Now that Shanny has signed off, we're ready to reveal the five lucky (and one unlucky) recipients.

    Here's a look at a handful of guys I expect to shine and one guy I expect to falter in D.C. this year. 

The Sammy Baugh Award (Offensive MVP): Trent Williams

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    I realize that not giving this to Robert Griffin III could get me deported from Washington. But fortunately for me, I'm not in Washington. I'm going instead with the man who will be charged with protecting Griffin's blind side in 2012.

    The No. 4 overall pick in 2010 was pretty freakin' bad as a rookie, but he improved steadily throughout the 2011 season and is on the verge of becoming one of the game's premier left tackles.

    Watch for the big man to earn his first Pro Bowl nod this year.

The Samuel L. Jackson Award (Defensive MVP): Brian Orakpo

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    There are few players in the league who bring pressure as consistently as Orakpo, who doesn't get enough credit because his sack numbers don't jump off the page. But as bookend outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan continues to gain steam, Orakpo will start taking down quarterbacks more frequently.

    This year, look for Orakpo to earn his third Pro Bowl berth along with a shiny new contract. Maybe he'll even start getting along better with the GEICO caveman.

The Robert Griffin III Award (Offensive Rookie of the Year): Robert Griffin III

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    With Williams anchoring his blind side, Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Chris Cooley and Fred Davis getting open and Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme turning Tim Hightower and Roy Helu into Charley Taylor and Larry Brown, I have no reason to believe Griffin won't win an award that's already been named for him.

    What to expect from RG3

The Chappelle Award (Defensive Rookie of the Year): Keenan Robinson, I Suppose

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    Can I give this to Griffin as well? Robinson was the only defensive player Washington drafted before the seventh round, and he's not likely to get a lot of reps unless linebackers start dropping like flies.

    That said, the fourth-round pick out of Texas is a versatile player who could earn a chance to contribute in the nickel package and will almost definitely make an impact on special teams. 

The Ana Gasteyer Award (Most Improved Player): Perry Riley

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    Buried on the depth chart for the first season-and-a-half of his career, Riley replaced Rock McIntosh in the starting lineup midway through the 2011 season and immediately became one of the division's best run-defending linebackers.

    The 24-year-old former fourth-round pick will have a chance to start from the get-go for the first time in his three-year career, and I expect him to continue to develop at a nice rate.

The Albert Haynesworth Award (Most Disappointing Player): Josh Morgan

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    It's a really good sign that I feel like I'm reaching for Morgan here. There aren't a lot of players on this roster who I think are going to fall short of big expectations, mainly because there are very few players who are expected to do big things.

    That said, Morgan is the closest thing I could find. I just think that free-agent signings see their value inflated naturally, and it's probably not ideal that we keep mentioning Garcon and Morgan in the same sentence (I did it earlier in this slideshow).

    Morgan isn't Garcon. Only once in his career has he caught more than 50 passes, and he's never gone over 700 yards.

    By no fault of his own, I think he might disappoint some people in 2012.