NFL 2018 power rankings countdown No. 26: Washington Redskins

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 17: Cornerback Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins stands on the field in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at FedEx Field on December 17, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 17: Cornerback Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins stands on the field in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at FedEx Field on December 17, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

A preview of the Washington Redskins ahead of the 2018 season.

Check back every day for a new 2018 team preview in this year’s NFL power rankings countdown.

Today’s team is the Washington Redskins.

26. Washington Redskins

Keegan’s highest rated player: Trent Williams, offensive tackle

Biggest strength: Offensive tackle

Biggest weakness: Safety

Best offseason move: Drafting Derrius Guice

Worst offseason move: Passing on Derwin James

Game to circle on calendar: Week 13, at Philadelphia

Breakout candidate: Fabian Moreau, cornerback

Key players in contract years: Rob Kelley, Jamison Crowder, Shawn Lauvao, Preston Smith, and Pernell McPhee

Offensive preview

Besides an improved run game, this offense shouldn’t be all that different from last year’s. Kirk Cousins is better than Alex Smith, but there isn’t a big difference between the two. Redskins fans still have reasons to be excited about Smith, one being that he led the NFL in passer rating last season.

One of the biggest positives with the Redskins offense will be their backfield. They have one of the deepest backfields in the league with Chris Thompson, Derrius Guice, Rob Kelley, and Samaje Perine. I see Guice as a sleeper rookie of the year candidate if he becomes the workhorse back in Washington.

The Redskins receiving corps still needs some work. Jamison Crowder is in a contract year, but he needs to improve drastically if he wants a big pay day. Josh Doctson has yet to show that he can be a number one receiver in the NFL, and the addition of Paul Richardson won’t hurt this receiving corps, but it won’t make it much better either. This group of wide receivers is average at best.

If Jordan Reed stays healthy, this receiving corps has a lot of potential, but he has yet to play a full NFL season. Redskins fans should be concerned about this, but fortunately for them they have another good tight end with Vernon Davis. If Reed stays healthy in 2018, this could be one of the best tight end duos in the league.

Trent Williams and Morgan Moses make up one of the best tackle duos in the league, and Brandon Scherff is a great guard. The offensive line should be good in 2018, but it isn’t as well-rounded as it should be.

This is an offense that will be very conservative and run-reliant in 2018, if Jay Gruden and Matt Cavanaugh were smart they would be modeling their offense after the West Coast one that Alex Smith ran in Kansas City.

Defensive preview

The Redskins will have a well-rounded defense this season, but there are still improvements that they need to make at a few positions if they want to have a top defense.

The defensive line is decent. Da’Ron Payne should be able to immediately contribute, and Payne’s former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen should be an impact player as well. This defensive line has a bright future.

There is a lot of talent in the front seven. Ryan Kerrigan is one of the most underrated defensive players in football, and the Redskins will be very strong up the middle with Zach Brown. This front seven has the right blend of young players with potential and reliable veterans.

The secondary looks decent headed into this season, but they need to find a better strong safety in a division with great quarterback play. The biggest strength with this secondary is their cornerbacks. Josh Norman is still one of the best corners in football, Orlando Scandrick was a very smart offseason signing, and Fabian Moreau is a potential breakout player this season.

If the Redskins had drafted Derwin James, this could have been one of the most exciting secondaries in football. DJ Swearinger is a good free safety, but the Redskins need to find a better strong safety and get deeper at the position as a whole.

This is a solid defense, but they need to make a few tweaks and improve their depth if they want to become a top defense. If the core of this defense stays intact and they make a few more additions, the Redskins could have one of the best units in football a few seasons from now.

Coaching staff/front office preview

I have mixed feelings with this coaching staff. Jay Gruden has led Washington to the playoffs, but he hasn’t maximized the potential of this roster at the same time. This coaching staff will likely be on the hot seat at the end of the 2018 season.

This is one of the more mediocre front offices in football. Bruce Allen has not done a good job running this team, and he deserves more criticism for how he handled the Kirk Cousins situation. There are reasons to have confidence in Doug Williams and the rest of the personnel department, but the Redskins need better management at the top if they want to turn into a winning organization.

Overall outlook for 2018

This Redskins team has a lot of potential, but they have too many problems for me to believe in them this season. They don’t stand out in a tough NFC East.

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Previous teams:

27. Cleveland Browns
28. Buffalo Bills
29. New York Jets
30. Cincinnati Bengals
31. Miami Dolphins
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers