Redskins Roster Outlook: Can Any Rookie Free Agents Make This Team?

Steve O Speak

In looking at the Redskins depth chart one thing that is hard to come by are rookie free agents, which isn’t too surprising since the Skins largely ignored bringing in many significant college players to minicamp. In fact in the 77 names on the depth chart only 5 are rookie free agents. Now I know most people will say what is the big deal, only a handful will make the team in their first year (if any at all), but it is a good cheap way to find some diamonds in the rough that the Redskins completely ignored. By comparison the Indianapolis Colts have 16 rookie free agents on their 80 man depth chart (this does include so players they picked up on waivers after they were cut by their original signing team). So the Colts who were basically one onside kick away from being Super Bowl Champions have space for 16 non-drafted players, and the Redskins who went 4-12 last year only have space for 5? This doesn’t make much sense to me. Now the majority of those Colts players won’t make the final roster or even the practice squad, but it shows the Colts were diligent in looking for future NFL talent. While I’m disappointed with the Redskins overall approach (to well everything, but particularly the draft and rookie free agency) I am happy with a few of the names the Skins brought in.

Kick Returner/? Brandon Banks: Banks doesn’t have a true position, though I’m sure if he makes the team he will learn a little wide receiver and running back, but he is a burner. He was one of the best kickoff returners in college football last season and could be a poor man’s Darren Sproles (probably closer to Stefan Logan in Pittsburgh). He will need to be extremely impressive in preseason to make the team, but the Skins have a major need there.

Running back/Kick Returner Keiland Williams: Williams faces a crowded backfield with 3 veterans and a former Shanahan draft pick ahead of him on the depth chart. Despite being the 5th running back (he’s not even listed as a back on the 4 deep depth chart), Williams could surprise and make this team. He has great size and if he shows some speed could become a dangerous combination. He isn’t a burner so it is surprising to see him listed as a kickoff returner, but he did lose some weight since college and might be able to handle the job. Despite being a rookie and not a fulltime starter at LSU, Williams is a pretty refined running back who does a little of everything well. At the very least I see a practice squad job in his future.

Tight End Logan Paulsen: Paulsen could have a solid chance of making the team, despite being a tight end. The Redskins have two starting caliber tight ends, but are looking for a blocking tight end to compliment them. Paulsen has to beat out Lee Vickers for the spot (and there is always the chance they only keep two tight ends), but he is a nice raw project for the position. If he shows he can be an effective blocker, his pass catching inabilities won’t matter. Whether he is on the active roster or practice squad I believe Paulsen has a good chance of being the Skins 3rd tight end.

Wide Receiver Shay Hodge: Hodge is a guy I happen to love, and he really came on his senior year at Ole Miss. He is athletic and has good size, though isn’t really known as a physical guy. He doesn’t have great straight line speed, but he always seems to play faster than he times. He probably isn’t really an option as a returner which will hurt his value, but could find roles on coverage units. The Redskins signed a number of veteran (though not very good ones) wide receivers this offseason so it is an uphill climb for Hodge, but he is already above Bobby Wade and Mike Furrey on the depth chart. Hodge is also one of only 3 receivers who stand taller than 6’0″ on the roster giving him a slight advantage. It might be a long shot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hodge made the final roster, I think he has a future in this league and hopefully it is with the Redskins.

Free Safety Anderson Russell: Russell got overshadowed at times at Ohio State, but he has good size and physical tools that he could end up latching on to a NFL team. His best value to Washington is he can play free safety, which is a bit of a stretch for a number of Redskins safeties. I’d say his chances of making the final roster aren’t that great, but he could end up getting a practice squad role.

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