Free agency, the scouting combine and the owners meetings are in the rearview mirror and the draft is just a few days away. But it's time to get back to football on the field. Here's a quick look at the Washington Redskins as they open their offseason workout program Monday.
Biggest challenge facing Gruden: Building on a winning season. The Redskins have not posted consecutive winning seasons since 1996-97, and they have not appeared in the postseason two years in a row since 1992. Head coach Jay Gruden will have to show that he can help guide this team to the so-called next level. They did not spend for big improvements. So to fix the defense and the run game, a lot of the work will have to come from within.
Player on the rise: Tight end Jordan Reed. You could say he's already there, but he really didn't start showing all he could do until late in the year. In the first nine games he averaged 9.43 yards per catch; in the final seven it was 12.73. He has yet to make a Pro Bowl, but his play down the stretch sets the stage for an appearance after this season. He's maturing with his offseason work, too.
Player who has the most to prove: Quarterback Kirk Cousins. He was a big reason why the Redskins won the NFC East title. However, he's also playing under the franchise tag and what he thinks he should be paid per year is $4 million higher than what Washington wants to pay. If Cousins wants the bigger deal, he'll have to prove it again. And if he does, the Redskins will gladly pay him. Runner-up here: linebacker Junior Galette, playing on a one-year deal and coming off an Achilles' injury.
Surprise player to watch: Corner Quinton Dunbar. He exceeded expectations after switching from receiver to corner last summer. He has the speed and length loved by defensive coaches, but after a surprising first season he must show that he can improve and take on a greater role. If he does, it would provide the Redskins welcomed depth at an important spot.
Position that should be addressed in draft: Defensive line. The Redskins still need to get younger here with no under-25 players to build around. There's a chance they'll emerge with two linemen from this draft. Corner and safety could be, and should be, addressed as well. But the offseason goal was to get younger along the line and add pass-rushers.