Redskins Can’t Rely on Recent Late Round Picks
At a number of key positions the Redskins depth chart currently lists some former mid-to-late round picks as either starters to top back-ups. The Redskins though are not likely to count on many of these guys for either starting roles or key back-ups when the season starts. With a new coach coming in and the front office under a new power structure, the team is likely to have a serious new look.
Historically new regimes mean a high level of roster turnover, typically 30-40 new guys in year 1. Now this obviously just isn’t about recent draft picks as plenty of Redskins free agents aren’t expected to be re-signed and other players have already been cut (including 2013 7th round RB Jawan Jamison). The difference is that these recent draft picks and undrafted free agents are still under team control and for the most part won’t be considered for being cut until cut down days during camp. The reality is most of these guys aren’t going to make the final 53 man roster, as new coach Jay Gruden will want to put his own stamp on the organization.
This obviously doesn’t apply to recent high round picks (top 3 are all probably safe) and an established starter like Alfred Morris, but beyond that we could see some surprising cuts that people aren’t expecting. Here is a look at each position to see how these recent draft picks and UDFA’s stand:
QB: Kirk Cousins
-Cousins isn’t going to be cut he’s established himself as a good back-up with the potential to start. Outside of injury the only way he’s not on the 53 man roster is if a trade offer comes in.
RB: Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster, Chris Thompson
-Already this position group has seen a recent draft pick cut in Jamison, and they could definitely see one or more cut as well. Helu should be safe, as he’s the top back-up to Alfred Morris, but both Royster and Thompson could easily end up on the chopping block. It doesn’t even have to be a draft pick that unseats them, the Redskins staff could sign a league minimum guy or a UDFA that beats them out.
TE: Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul
-Though Paulsen is the number 2 TE, his spot is probably more in jeopardy than Paul. Paul is cheaper and is one of the few good special teams players on this team, he offers more than enough value to justify the 3rd TE spot. Paulsen’s play and contract aren’t really valued at the number 2 TE spot. Already the team has brought in Owen Daniels for a visit, so they are definitely looking at options here. Paul definitely isn’t completely safe, as the team could decide they can find a better 3rd TE who helps on ST’s in other ways (not going to find a TE gunner).
-LeRibeus may still get one more year given that he was a 3rd round pick, but he’s not as safe as say a typical 3rd round pick would be given a new coaching staff and his track record so far. Out of Gettis, Hurt and Compton you might have one more win a back-up job, but this is not a strong group. Even with the retention of the OL coach it would be surprising to see more than 2 of these four players make the 53 man roster.
-The Redskins re-signed Santana Moss and signed UFA Andre Roberts so with Pierre Garcon 3 spots are probably set (Moss isn’t set in stone, but there is a good chance he makes it). The Redskins are expected to add at least one WR in the draft, so depending on how many WR’s the Redskins keep they could only have 1 or 2 spots remaining. Hankerson’s health will play a factor as he’s coming off an ACL injury. For that reason the Redskins may look to keep him on the PUP list to start the season opening up a spot early on. In the end it is probably a long climb for both Robinson and Williams to make the team, particularly if the Redskins draft more than one WR or sign another guy.
DL: Chris Neild
–Jarvis Jenkins was also drafted in the Mike Shanahan era, but I think he’s pretty safe to be on the team. He’s probably not going to start, but he’s probably safe for this year. The same can not be said for Chris Neild. The Redskins have already brought back Chris Baker and signed Jason Hatcher and Clifton Geathers in free agency and they might not be done. As it stands now Neild’s a major long shot to make the team and those odds figure to get worse.
LB: Brandon Jenkins, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Jeremy Kimbrough
-The Redskins have already retained Brian Orakpo and Perry Riley as starters and signed Darryl Sharpton and Adam Hayward to compete for another starting role. With Ryan Kerrigan locked into the final starting job, all that is left is really the back-up roles. One would think that former 4th rounder Keenan Robinson is set, but that might not be the case. Even after the signings of Sharpton and Hayward there has been talk of the Redskins still interested in ILB (which doesn’t bode well for Compton or Kimbrough either). The Redskins could also look to draft a guy in the 3rd-5th rounds, given the long term uncertainty of the position. Brandon Jenkins is on firmer ground, though the team has reportedly been interested in OLB Anthony Spencer. If they sign a veteran (which they probably will do), Jenkins spot could be in jeopardy from a rookie or UDFA.
-The Redskins have 3 CB positions pretty well set with D-Hall coming back, David Amerson expected to take over a starting role and newly signed corner Tracy Porter. Right now Crawford and Minnifield are penciled in as the 4th and 5th guys, but they have very little experience and a host of serious injuries between them. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the team add another veteran player and at least one draft pick to the mix. One of Crawford and Minnifield could stick, but it’s probably doubtful that both do.
-This is probably the position that most people think the Redskins are in need of and they would be completely right. The Redskins don’t have anything representing a set starter for next year at either safety spot, and right now all they have is Thomas who missed all of last season due to injury and Rambo who was ineffective and benched last year. Thomas’s roster spot is probably fairly safe, but Rambo’s might not be. Rambo after early positive reports in camp, struggled mightily in the preseason and regular season. It went beyond just basic rookie struggles as despite a serious need at the position, he found himself placed on the inactive roster or not even given a single snap in some games. Rambo’s struggles went beyond just being overmatched on defense as he was a liability on Special Teams as well. If you are a mid-late round safety and you aren’t an elite starter, you have to play special teams to have a spot on an NFL team. Rambo’s spot is very much up for grabs and at this point it would be a mild surprise if he’s on the 53 man roster.
Of the 22 players listed, only Kirk Cousins and Roy Helu Jr. are truly “safe” for next year in a role as a starter or key back-up. As long as he checks out medically Leonard Hankerson will join that list, but beyond that we may only see a handful of guys make the team. The health of Phillip Thomas, Keenan Robinson and Richard Crawford will be a major factor. If they are healthy they are pretty safe bets, but they aren’t true locks. The next most likely are Niles Paul (mainly due to ST) and Brandon Jenkins, but after that it is totally up in the air and will be very much based on how many roster spots at a particular position. If the Redskins keep only 8 OL, there might be only a spot or two available if they sign and draft a couple guys (cuts of current players could also determine how this plays out). If the Skins keep just 5 WR’s, they might not have a spot for anyone beyond Hankerson. Now there are a lot of factors that can change things, but it would probably be a surprise if more than 10-12 of these players were on the final 53 man roster and most of them will likely be near the bottom of it. With few exceptions these are not players the Redskins can count on going forward.