Six of the Redskins seven rookies made the 53 man roster to start the season, though one is on I.R. for the season. Here is my breakdown on what to expect from all of them:
Outlook: 3rd or 4th corner to start the year, when on the field he will line up outside with a starter moving inside
Prediction: Amerson has looked better than free agent corner E.J. Biggers so far, and may have won himself the 3rd cornerback role, which is basically a starting position. The Redskins may not want to give him that much playing time too soon to overwhelm him, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him split the role with Biggers early in the season. Amerson will probably be a high risk/high reward corner, very similar to DeAngelo Hall. He’ll come up with some big time plays, and create turnovers, but he’ll also get beaten more than you’d like to see or commit too many penalties. As a rookie that is okay for Amerson, but he will hopefully tighten up his game as the season wears on. Though some may push for it, Amerson probably won’t get a real starting role unless there is an injury. He could though begin to get more playing time against bigger receivers this year.
Outlook: 4th tight end
Prediction: Jordan Reed came in with a lot of hype and potential, but he hasn’t been able to showcase himself as much and has been buried on the depth chart. Reed missed all the offseason activities due to injury and even missed part of training camp and the first preseason game. On top of that Fred Davis came back healthy and Niles Paul showed some nice development. With a healthy Davis, Logan Paulsen as the best blocker and Niles Paul as a core special teamer, it’s tough for Reed to crack the top three tight ends. Given that it could be tough to see Reed active most game days this season, particularly early on in the season. Keeping four tight ends on the 53 man roster isn’t tough, but keeping four tight ends active on game days very much is. Barring an injury it is hard to see any of the top three tight ends inactive, which means Reed needs to prove that keeping the 4th tight end active is the right call for the Redskins. Reed will need to show off his receiving skills and how he can be a mismatch for the opposing defenses. Reed will likely get some time this season, but it would be surprising if he’s involved in more than 100 offensive snaps.
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Outlook: 4th running back, possible punt returner
Prediction: Chris Thompson made the 53 man roster, but now it will be interesting to see how often he makes the 46 man game day roster. While he has breakaway speed and agility, Thompson is clearly the 4th running back on this team to start the year. He’s not a guy who could carry the ball 20 times a game if called upon. He’s a third down back and a weapon out of the backfield. The Redskins have that already in Roy Helu Jr, who can also take over primary back assignments if needed. Helu might not be as quick and fast as Thompson, but he’s proven himself at this level and is a better pass protector. Thompson’s big chance to make the active roster will be if he can secure the punt returner role. Though he had an impressive preseason finale returning punts, Thompson still probably hasn’t locked down this role. He has very limited experience doing it, and did fumble on runs twice in the preseason. Thompson also has to prove that he is far and away the best option to return punts, if the Redskins are going to use an active day spot on him.
He will get some opportunities this year, but they will probably mainly come in the 2nd half of the season. By then he could possibly carve out a niche to get 3-5 touches a game and the punt returner role.
Outlook: back-up outside linebacker, role player pass rush specialist
Prediction: Jenkins might just be a 5th rounder, but as he showed in the preseason he’s not one to overlook this season. Jenkins would have gone a lot higher in the draft if a foot injury didn’t wipe out his senior season in 2012. He’s fully healthy now and ready to play. Though Jenkins is listed as a back-up outside linebacker, he’s really only a pass rusher at this point. The Redskins are not going to ask him to go in to coverage at this point, and his run defense skills are probably a bit subpar. That is okay though, because the Redskins need to generate more of a pass rush this year, and Jenkins can be utilized in select packages or certain situations that allow him to make a major impact. He may play 250-300 snaps this year, but 80-90% of them should be when he’s able to feature his best skill, rushing the passer.
Outlook: Projected FS starter
Prediction: Rambo is set to start at free safety this year for the Redskins. While there is some concerns with him entering the season, particularly with his run support and angles to the ball carrier, Rambo should upgrade the position for the Redskins over the course of the season. At the start of the year it might be a little rough, but by the end of the season the Redskins could have an average free safety, with the potential to be even better. Rambo will be at his best when he is in a zone and can be a ball-hawking centerfielder.
Outlook: Thomas will spend the entire season on the Injured Reserve list
Prediction: While Thomas can’t help the team this year, he should be able to work his way back to be ready for the start of next year’s OTA’s and other offseason activities. Thomas suffered a similar injury to what rookie LB Brandon Jenkins suffered in college last year, and he was a full participant in OTA’s, so that should easily be Thomas’s goal as well. Hopefully he will be back healthy and ready to compete for a starting job next year.
Outlook: Will spend 2013 on the practice squad, until a running back goes down
Prediction: Jamison will get a chance to join the 53 man roster at some point this season. I think the Redskins see some long term potential in him, so they definitely don’t want to lose him. Also, it seems like a safe bet that at least one running back on the current roster will go down with injury. When that occurs Jamison will get the call. Unlike in years past though when the Redskins would possibly need to insert him in the starting line-up, I think Jamison will spend his time on the inactive game day roster, given the Redskins depth at the position.