Yesterday I broke down the minimum spots needed at each position. That left the Redskins with essentially nine open roster spots to be earned this offseason. Here is my prediction of how they will play out:
Of those nine open spots, I identified five of them that were basic locks. These are the five locks and why I think they will be on the team.
– Yes about half the teams in the league run with two quarterbacks (and typically a 3rd on the practice squad), and it allows an extra roster spot to be freed up. That simply isn’t going to be the Redskins though. Sure there isn’t any competition for either of the top two quarterback spots, but that doesn’t mean the Redskins don’t need a third quarterback. Robert Griffin III is coming back from a major offseason surgery, and while his prognosis is promising at this point, he could suffer a setback at anytime. In addition you are talking about a quarterback who has suffered two ACL surgeries and (at least) two concussions in his last four years. Given the injury risk the Redskins will likely always carry three quarterbacks, but it is basically a mortal lock this season.
-The Redskins might not throw the ball that often (30th in pass attempts) and are happy to spread the ball around, but that doesn’t mean they can run with only four receivers. For one thing the Redskins showed last year a trend to rotate their receivers in an effort to create more mismatches. Another factor is the fact that none of the Redskins top four receivers are really great special teams options (perhaps Moss as the punt returner) and the team could perhaps like to have a receiver who can help in that department. Finally, though he’s expected to be ready for the year, the reality is Pierre Garcon is dealing with a foot injury. Like last year there is a chance it flares up at any time which could knock him out of a couple of weeks.
-Given the Redskins offense three tight ends is pretty much a must. The Redskins like to run out of a lot of two tight end sets, and with that being the central part of their offense the Redskins need to ensure they can do that. The Redskins also have just far too much talent at the position to only go with two guys for the season. Though it doesn’t happen too often, the Redskins do like having some three tight end sets. Sometimes it is in a jumbo package, other times it is with one of the tight ends in the backfield in an H-back role.
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-As a 3-4 team keeping eight linebackers just makes sense. Beyond that though there are a number of good reasons to ensure their is an eighth guy in this group. Of the Redskins three primary back-up LB’s last season, Lorenzo Alexander is in Arizona, Keenan Robinson is recovering from a mid-season torn pectoral muscle, and Rob Jackson is going to be suspended for the first four games. Even if Robinson is fully healthy with no setbacks, he’ll naturally be behind given the missed time last year and the missed time during the offseason. Until Jackson comes back the Redskins depth is going to be very much in question, so ensuring there is a full complement of back-ups is key. In addition to the questions surrounding the back-ups, the Redskins have uncertainty with two starters as well. Brian Orakpo is 100% and working out during the offseason, but he is coming off back-to-back pectoral injuries. Though his chance of another isn’t as high as last year, it is something that the Redskins have to consider. Also, London Fletcher is coming off multiple offseason surgeries and his worst year as a pro. It’s unclear what level his play will be at this season, so additional depth is key.
-Similar to receiver it is pretty tough to only keep four corners for an extended period of time. Third corners are de facto starters at this point as they play about 50% of the snaps. A fourth corner will probably play less than 15% (barring injury), but it is nice to have a back-up. The fifth corner also is a prime special teams position which could give a leg up to a guy like Richard Crawford who has the ability to contribute on every special teams. The other factor for the Redskins is the fact that they are so unsettled at the corner position. DeAngelo Hall is coming off back-to-back seasons of over 1,000 yards allowed, Josh Wilson is coming off two serious offseason surgeries, E.J. Biggers is still a question mark, and rookie David Amerson isn’t expected to contribute much this year. Having a fifth corner makes a lot of sense for the Redskins.