Washington Redskins: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players at Each Position
Finally, after more than a decade, the Washington Redskins have turned a new leaf and a culture change is officially in place under the new regime of Mike Shanahan.
Before last season, Redskins fans were tormented with the mismanagement of a beloved NFL franchise and forced to watch as their team remained the laughing stock of the league for more than 10 miserable seasons.
In the past, owner Dan Snyder made it easy to point out the overrated and underrated Redskins at each position. With guys like Jeremiah Trotter, Jessie Armstead, Deion Sanders, Dana Stubblefield, Adam Archuleta, etc., finding the overrated player was as easy as throwing a penny into the ocean.
Now, with the time's-a-changin', and with a coach who can actually evaluate talent, we'll take a more meaningful look at the most overrated and underrated Redskins at each position and why they may find themselves falling down or creeping up Shanahan's depth chart.
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With such an unproven/weak lineup of signal-callers, the quarterback position is a tough one to call.
The veteran Rex Grossman seems to have a small following of fans who favor his gun-slinging style, but his carelessness and poor decision-making keep him on my bad side.
On the other hand, you have John Beck, the 29-year-old inexperienced Shanahan-favorite who has seemed to create a cult following off nothing more than speculation and a few radio interviews.
Donovan McNabb technically remains on the roster, but I'll dismiss him from this discussion—the poor guy has had enough.
Overrated: Rex Grossman
Not that Sexy Rexy receives a ton of praise, but I really stand firm on my argument that he is nothing more than below-average as an NFL quarterback.
Can he plug and play? Yes.
Can he go an entire game without a turnover? Doubtful.
Underrated: John Beck
Although we know very little about the mystery man or what he brings to the field, we'll bank on Beck's potential and the fact that Shanahan has liked this guy since his college days at BYU.
Is everyone comfortable with handing the keys over to the Stormin' Mormon?
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Now that Clinton Portis' reign in Washington is over, the oldest current running back is just 25 years old, making this one just as hard to judge as the quarterback position.
In order to make things easier, I'll use some speculation and prediction in determining this group's most overrated and underrated.
Overrated: Evan Royster
I'm not sure whether it's the large Penn State following in the area or the fact that people only glanced at Royster's college stats, but many of the people I've heard from seem to think he will make a strong run at the Redskins' starting tailback job in 2011.
As much as I respect the loyal PSU fans, and as much as I enjoy watching Royster play, I stand firm on my belief that Royster's transition to the NFL won't be nearly as quick or as smooth as so many imagine.
Sticking it to a rookie who has yet to even see the field is a little harsh, I agree, and I'm not saying Royster isn't NFL quality.
What I AM saying, is Royster will need a year or two before he gets completely comfortable with the speed of the NFL, the necessary footwork and the Shanahan scheme.
With that, I apologize to the Penn State faithful and all Royster fans. But remember, I am also a fan. This kid was a solid pickup late in the draft, but he's not a superstar yet.
Underrated: Ryan Torain
It's hard to have the Torain Train go unnoticed, but I feel like it still happens. With the ability to make plays through the trenches and out of the backfield, you'll be hard-pressed to find someone arguing that Torain isn't the Redskins' most productive back (when healthy).
Staying healthy though remains a huge issue for the 24-year-old Torain, and Shanahan understands the importance and effectiveness of this kid when he's firing on all cylinders.
Because of his injury history and unfortunate absence during the season, Torain tends to be forgotten and thrown under the table.
Let it be known though, the Torain Train can do it all.
Underrated Honorable Mention: Keiland Williams
Williams is an undrafted workhorse with the ability to do everything he is asked. Given more reps, he could become a very reliable third-down back. His hard work should not go unnoticed.
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Although I hope something can get done before next season that will bring Santana Moss back to Washington, the chances aren't necessarily looking too bright.
With that being said, the Redskins are almost going through a passing-of-the-torch for the wide receiver crew.
For this positional breakdown, I'll include tight ends and still won't mention Chris Cooley's name.
Overrated: Malcolm Kelly
Again, I'm going off prediction and my own speculation, but the fact that Kelly was allowed to stay with the squad all last season on IR and count against the books without actually playing obviously means someone likes him.
But how much?
Since being drafted by the treacherous Vinny Cerrato three years ago, Kelly hasn't shown the will to make it onto the football field healthy and with the right state of mind. With a new sheriff in town, I would think Kelly is as good as gone here in Washington.
But because I'm a Redskins loyalist and I have the team's best intentions at heart, I hope for nothing less than a strong recovery by Kelly and solid contribution to the team for the next seven years.
Until I see it with my own two eyes though, this kid is a waste of a second-round pick.
Underrated: Anthony Armstrong
Really no argument with this one, right? Armstrong made his rookie debut last season at the age of 28, and his work ethic was shown game in and game out.
Armstrong finished his rookie campaign with almost 900 yards receiving, good for second-best on the team, and he's the team's front-runner for the No. 1 receiver spot next season.
Similar to that of Moss, Armstrong is a speedster who can beat defenses on the edges, as well as act as a workhorse throughout the season to rack up 90-plus receptions.
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I still consider the Redskins' offensive line to be a work in progress, and the group could have hung a sign from their necks last season that read, "Under Construction."
Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme is a proven winner in the NFL, and he's slowly grooming his line into something worth talking about. As he's done in the past, Shanny will get the most effective production out of the most unproductive linemen.
Overrated: Casey Rabach
Here's another guy I'm labeling "overrated" when in actuality he gets little-to-no attention whatsoever.
But my problem, as I so often express in my writings, is that Rabach's career as a starting center in the NFL is over.
After 11 seasons in the NFL, it's time for Rabach to either hang up the cleats or accept his role as a backup until his retirement.
For a team that is rebuilding, especially along the offensive trench, Rabach has to be the most overrated player on the line. Shanahan likely kept Rabach at center because he had absolutely no depth at the position, but I can't imagine he'll be around much longer.
Underrated: Kory Lichtensteiger
It feels a little odd saying this, but thank goodness for Lichtensteiger's solid play down the stretch last season.
I mean, not that the Redskins were in the playoff hunt or anything, but Lichtensteiger's play at left guard last year was a very big step for this Washington team.
Another one of Shanahan's hand-picked guys, Lichtenstieger can probably expect to start at left guard next year. The fourth-year player's athleticism and ability to get to the second level is more than helpful for a Shanahan-operated zone-blocking running game.
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This is quite possibly the most unsurprising slide of the entire show, as all Redskins fans can find some way or another to bash Fat Albert Haynesworth.
Overrated: Albert Haynesworth
Do we really need to get into this one? Even during his first season with the team in his preferred 4-3 scheme, Haynesworth played less than half of the defensive plays on the year, and he was paid $100 million to do so.
The attempted switch with coach Shanahan to a 3-4 defense didn't get any better.
In fact, I don't think things could have gotten any worse.
Haynesworth continued to be out of shape, he continued to pout and I continue to question how a $100 million-man refuses to take on double-teams when asked to for the better of the team.
Underrated: Adam Carriker
Because I liked what I saw out of Carriker toward the end of last season, I'll use my crystal ball to say he'll be a integral part of the team's defense next season, and no one will catch on quickly.
With a full year under his belt and being back in the 3-4 scheme, Carriker has the talent and strength to lock down a side on the defensive line next season. But because his stats won't be flashy and his sack numbers won't hit double-digits, Carriker will remain low key.
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Not only because I'm a fan of the team and an avid supporter no matter what the circumstances may be, I think it's fair to say no one on the Redskins' linebacking crew is overrated.
If someone wanted to make a case that Rocky McIntosh isn't cut out for the 3-4 scheme and his athleticism carries him a little farther than his actual ability, I'd listen to that. But otherwise, we're talking about stand-up guys, great character and solid on-field production.
Underrated: London Fletcher, Lorenzo Alexander, Brian Orakpo
It's hard to argue any of these three really get the respect or praise they deserve. Not that any of them would ask for it, but Fletcher and Orakpo—in my opinion—are two of the best linebackers in the NFL.
Over the years, Fletcher has been a solid defensive commander in the NFL, yet he's dissed every year with no Pro Bowl invitations and minimal hardware. Without Fletcher on this team, the Washington Redskins wouldn't be anywhere near where they are today.
Orakpo, on the other hand, is a young and budding pass-rushing phenom who will soon take the media by storm. At this point, although he could survive strictly by way of athleticism and strength, Orakpo is still polishing his game and improving his football IQ. It won't be long though before he is mentioned in the list of the NFL's top-10 pass-rushers.
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With such a large group of players for this position that includes both corners and safeties, it's difficult to use only two guys.
But when you think about player reputation in comparison to actual production, the deciding factor becomes a little easier.
Overrated: DeAngelo Hall
As grateful as I am to have Hall on our team, I don't think there's any question he's a bit overrated around the NFL.
In terms of playmaking ability at the cornerback position, Hall is one of the best. But with average coverage skills and an expressive attitude, he is far from the lock-down corner he's paid to be.
Again, I like having Hall on this Redskins team, but there's no way I stick up for him in an argument over whether or not he's a cornerstone for the franchise.
Now that Carlos Rogers is out, Hall will be strapped with even more pressure next season, serving as the Redskins' only true No. 1 corner. Let's see how he handles that.
Underrated: LaRon Landry
I really hate to use Landry here, but last season should have been enough to change the way people (and offenses) think about him as a player.
Up until last season, Landry could have very well been labeled "overrated." He was a safety who was commonly caught out of position, his coverage skills were poor and he always went for the bone-crushing hits that usually left his team in vulnerable positions.
But last season, while playing a more natural position closer to the line of scrimmage and in the box, Landry was on pace for the Pro Bowl (and arguably DPOY) by about Week 5.
After his season was cut short in 2010, Landry has made it known he would enter 2011 with more fire and intensity than ever before. Add that to the fact that he's an intimidating missile on the football field with a nose for the football, plus a fearless tackling style, and you have a recipe for disaster—good disaster, that is.
Opposing offenses will game plan around Landry and his side of the field, trying to stay as far away from the crazed No. 30 as possible. Before long, Landry should be a household name and finally live up to his potential.
Shae Cronin is a Redskins Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and the founder of Bet Big DC.com, a sports website focusing on the D.C., Maryland and Virginia region. Be sure to check in frequently and follow @BetBigDC on Twitter for the latest rumors, sports picks, mock drafts and more.