There is a new feeling in D.C. surrounding the Washington Football Team.
Is it the recent NFC East title? Is it Ron Rivera? Whichever, there is reason to believe in Washington as the team looks for a second consecutive division championship in 2021.
When looking at the four cornerstone players for the WFT, it is a bit different than other teams. There is no quarterback on this list and that is because Washington is still looking for its long-term answer under center. If we were discussing cornerstone players solely for the 2021 season, Ryan Fitzpatrick would be at the top of the list but we are looking to the future.
With that being said, let's look at the four cornerstone players for the Washington franchise moving forward.
(Note: Brandon Scherff is not included in this group, only because WFT and its All-Pro right tackle were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term deal and his future in D.C. is unknown.)
4. Antonio Gibson
This slot could have been occupied by a few others. Landon Collins has a lucrative contract and is a leader in the secondary. Kamren Curl had a breakout rookie year and is looking like a young star. Jamin Davis is a first-round pick with limitless potential.
But let's go with the second-year running back out of Memphis.
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Gibson showed that he can be a workhorse carrying the ball. He scored 11 touchdowns as a rookie and that number would have been higher if he did not miss two games with a turf-toe injury. This season, expect Gibson to be more involved in the passing game - similar to what he did in college with the Tigers in college.
Gibson is going to be an integral part of the offense this season, and for years to come.
3. Terry McLaurin
Washington has been drafting well in recent years and that can be backed up with the fact that they stole McLaurin in the third round in 2019. Now, he is the No. 1 receiver in D.C. and a legitimate threat.
McLaurin has enjoyed two years of success and has done it as basically the only weapon on the outside. And he's risen to being an elite receiver despite playing with five different quarterbacks.
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Washington improved its pass catchers by signing Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries and this could open up McLaurin even more.
The NFL is turning into a passing league which means teams have to feature primo wide receivers. The WFT seems to have one in the 25-year-old Ohio State product.
2. Jonathan Allen
Washington began a four-year stretch of drafting defensive linemen in the first round when it landed Allen in the 2017 NFL Draft. After being touted as the second-best prospect in the draft behind only Myles Garrett, Allen fell to Washington at No. 17 and the rebuild was on.
Allen played five games as a rookie and has missed just one game over the last three years. He is entering his fifth year with the WFT and a contract extension has to be on the horizon. Allen might have been the lineman to benefit most from the switch to a 4-3 scheme, as he finished eighth in the league in 2020 with a 17-percent pass-rush win rate.
He finished with just two sacks in 2020 and some might say that it was a down year. That could not be further from the truth. Allen is one of the top interior defensive linemen in the league and Washington has to keep him around long term.
1. Chase Young
This seems like an easy choice, because it is. Young was selected second-overall by the WFT during the 2020 NFL Draft and came into the league with high expectations. Young exceeded those right away.
Only 22, Young is regarded as one of the brightest young stars in the game. He completed the defensive line and gives Washington an elite pass rush off the edge along with Montez Sweat.
Young totaled 44 tackles, 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 10 quarterback hits, and a touchdown - and he did all of this while facing double teams for a majority of the season.
He even earned a captain patch down the stretch of the season because of his leadership on and off the field. Just reference Taylor Heinicke's touchdown run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during Wild Card weekend. Young was seen sprinting down the sideline and celebrating with the offense in the end zone.
All of those who lobbied for Washington to select a quarterback at No. 2 or trade the pick, you look silly. The WFT has their main cornerstone for what it hopes will be a long career.