Washington Redskins 53 man roster prediction: Training camp edition
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Quarterbacks: 3 – Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld
-Cousins and McCoy are clearly locked into roster spots and the 1 and 2 roles on the team. Sudfeld’s roster spot is definitely not guaranteed and if he has a poor camp/preseason the team may just opt to keep him on the practice squad (or completely release and sign another practice squad QB), but if he shows any promise I think he gets a roster spot. The Redskins have kept 3 QBs of late and I get the feeling that is there intention this year as well. If they feel that there is any risk that Sudfeld could get claimed they will hang on to him.
Running backs: 3 – Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Keith Marshall
-This will be a bit interesting to see how many backs the Redskins keep this year. In the past they’ve kept just 3, but they also had Darrel Young as a fullback who could be used as an emergency back if injuries piled up. Now without a fullback on the roster the Redskins might opt for 4 RBs. Jones is definitely safe and I think Chris Thompson has a good shot as long as he’s healthy, but the 3rd or even fourth roster spot is definitely up for grabs. Right now rookie Keith Marshall and 2nd year Mack Brown are probably the best options for the 3rd spot, but honestly it wouldn’t be shocking to see a veteran added during camp who ends up in that role.
Tight ends: 4 – Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Vernon Davis, Logan Paulsen
-In place of a fullback the Redskins could opt to go with 4 tight ends. When they need a lead back they will line-up one of the tight ends (likely Niles Paul) in the backfield in a FB/H-back type of role. Jordan Reed, Niles Paul and Vernon Davis are all very safe to make the roster, though the battle for the number 2 TE role behind Jordan Reed could be interesting. With Derek Carrier likely starting the year on the PUP list, it will be between Logan Paulsen and Marcel Jensen for the 4th TE role. Given Paulsen’s knowledge of the offense he’s likely to have a leg up, for the role. Either TE will be seen as an extra blocker and mainly deployed in goal line or short yardage situations.
Wide Receivers: 6 – DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, Rashard Ross, Ryan Grant
-The Redskins have been keeping six receivers of late and that doesn’t figure to change. The top 4 of Jackson, Garcon, Doctson and Crowder are all completely safe so it just comes down to who wins the 5th and 6th WR roles. Both of these players will have to contribute on special teams so that will be a key factor. Ross showed some ability as a kick returner last year which gives him a good shot of making the roster. He showed development as a receiver as well last season, but if he loses the KR role to another WR it could hurt his chances of making the roster. Grant is probably even more on the roster bubble as he’s not been a core special teamer and he doesn’t have a top skill set as a receiver. He’s done fine in camp, but hasn’t done much when given opportunities in the season. If someone shows more upside and better special teams play they could take the final receiver spot.
Offensive line: 9 – Trent Williams, Shaun Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Arie Kouandjio, Ty Nsekhe, Takoby Cofield
-The Redskins could go with either 8 or 9 offensive linemen this year and the determining factor might be if they feel they need to keep an extra running back or even another defender. Regardless of the total number I think seven spots are pretty safe. The 5 starters (Williams, Lauvao, Lichtensteiger, Scherff, and Moses) are all locks, with the lone exception of Lauvao who is coming off an injury and if he suffers a set back that could shake things up. Spencer Long is working both at center and guard this year giving him the versatility to be a key back-up, while Arie Kouandjio is likely a lock as well and could be the long term answer at LG, particularly if Lauvao struggles coming back from the injury. Ty Nsekhe is probably the top swing tackle option with Cody Booth his top competition. Booth will battle with Takoby Cofield, Josh LeRibeus and perhaps Austin Reiter for the 9th and final spot. Right now I’d give a slight edge to Cofield since he can back-up both guard spots and at least the RT spot.
Defensive Line: 7 – Chris Baker, Stephen Paea, Kendall Reyes, Kedric Golston, Ricky Jean-Francois, Trent Murphy, Matt Ioannidis
-Seven seems like a lot to keep at this position group, but the Redskins have kept 6 or 7 (usually 7) since going to a 3-4 defense in 2010. Baker is the only player who is 100% locked into both his roster spot and role in this defense, but the other six guys all are pretty safe bets as well to make the roster. Paea has the most upside, and cutting him wouldn’t make sense from a contract stand point. Reyes was signed as a free agent for a couple of million and would have to play pretty poorly to not make the roster. Golston continues to be a leader on this team and a core special teamer so his roster spot was pretty safe to begin with. On top of that he could see increased snaps this year as possibly the starting nose tackle. Ricky Jean-Francois isn’t flashy, but he’s solid and he can back-up all 3 positions and play in both the base and nickel packages. Murphy is making a transition and those definitely don’t always work out, but I think he’d have to be pretty bad this year to not make the roster. He’s still pretty cheap and young which are two things needed in this unit. A 5th round pick like Ioannidis is not guaranteed a roster spot, but he was the only defensive lineman drafted to a position group that is a question mark and getting pretty old. Even if he doesn’t have a strong camp/preseason Ioannidis has a fair chance of making the roster for his future potential alone.
Outside Linebacker: 4 – Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Houston Bates, Carlos Fields Jr.
-The loss of Junior Galette for the season does open this position up some and will make for some interesting camp battles. Kerrigan and Smith are locked in as the starters, but it’s up in the air as to who is behind them. Houston Bates was impressive in the preseason last year, but he was going up against guys who for the most part weren’t making their teams rosters. He’s got some upside, but now he might need to be relied upon as the 3rd edge rusher. Right now if I had to pick a 4th OLB from the current roster it would be Carlos Fields Jr. though that is far from a certainty. Fields has hung around on practice squads for a couple of years and has a good athletic skill set where he could possibly jump into being worthy of a 53 man roster role. He was a dominant player in division II football, but has yet to show he’s fully ready to make the jump to the NFL. It’s possible that the Redskins add a free agent to this position as well.
Inside Linebacker: 5 – Will Compton, Mason Foster, Perry Riley, Terence Garvin, Su’a Cravens
-This comes down to how you view rookie 2nd rounder Su’a Cravens as he’s probably technically more of a hybrid player. While he could play in some of a safety role, I think his skill set is more naturally inline with an ILB so that is where I’m listing him. As for the regular ILBs, Compton and Foster are safe and will battle with Riley for the starting role. If Riley doesn’t earn the starting role and if some of the younger ILBs look good in camp, Riley could find himself off the roster since the team could save $4 million, but right now I think he’ll keep his roster spot. Garvin was signed as a free agent this offseason in the hopes that he will bolster the special teams units. He’s not likely in the mix for much playing time on defense, but he will earn a role if he plays well on special teams.
Cornerback: 5 – Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kyle Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, Greg Toler
-Norman and Breeland give the Redskins a really good pair of corners and they with Fuller are 100% locked into the roster. While Norman and Breeland’s roles are locked in as well, where Fuller fits in this roster could help determine who else makes it and just how many corners the Redskins keep. Right now I think Fuller will be the 3rd corner, which could lead to the Redskins keeping just 5 CBs (also Blackmon as a hybrid S/CB helps as well). Dunbar showed a lot of upside last year after being converted from WR and he is likely to make the roster as well. Toler has been a solid vet and probably can hold off a number of young corners fighting for a role.
Safety: 4 – David Bruton, DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon, Duke Ihenacho
-If Cravens is considered an ILB, then I think the Redskins will keep just 4 safeties, which is good since they don’t have that many competing for roles in camp. Bruton and Hall figure to be the starters with Will Blackmon moving over the safety role as a key back-up. Blackmon’s versatility and experience will likely help earn him some playing time in nickel and dime packages as well. Ihenacho has missed most of the last two seasons due to injury, but there is little competition in camp so he will probably be given one more shot in the hopes that he can stay healthy and show some of his potential.
Specialists: 3 – P Tress Way, K Dustin Hopkins, LS Nick Sundberg
-No surprises here as there aren’t even any other players competing for these positions in camp. As long as there are no injuries these will be the three specialists this season.