We have now had over a week’s worth of practices and the Redskins roster is starting to become a bit more clearer. Some positions are still up for grabs, and there are a couple spots with really interesting positions battles as the preseason starts, other positions are fully set. Here is how I would predict the final 53 man roster for the defense will end up:
*Note- Defensive lineman Stacey McGee and cornerback Joshua Holsey are both currently injured and could start the year on the PUP list, and will be addressed when we get to the defense
– With Stacey McGee potentially starting the year on PUP list the Redskins may look to use a defensive line spot at another position and only start the year with 6. Part of the reason why they can start with only 6 defensive linemen is that this could be a real strength area for the Redskins. Allen, Payne and Ioannidis look like a very talented and diverse starting trio, capable of impacting both the running game and the passing game. Allen especially has the potential to be one of the top defensive linemen in the league, and a true elite player. Payne, was the Redskins first round pick and was a good player for Alabama the past two years. Inconsistent at times, but the size/quickness combo made him unblockable at times. Ioannidis was cut as a rookie, but had an impressive sophomore campaign last year generating 4.5 sacks and a number of pressures.
Behind them Lanier has shown himself to be a quality pass rusher putting up 5 sacks in 11 games despite only getting a couple games worth of starting reps. Lanier is a guy the Redskins need to find a way to get on the field more in passing situations. Settle has some versatility to his game, but he’s more ideally suited as a nose tackle who should excel versus the run. He allows the Redskins to shift Payne over to the 5 technique vs key running situations to make their line even more stout. Hood is a solid veteran with experience in a number of roles and a guy who can fill in as needed and be a leader to the group.
– No real surprises here, Kerrigan and Smith make up one of the better starting edge combos in the league. While neither one puts up big sack numbers, they have shown themselves to be very effective with their combined sack and pressure numbers. Kerrigan may not be a Von Miller type who can put up 17-20 sacks in a year, but he’s really shown a lot of consistency in his career, and has three 10+ sack seasons in his last four years. His pressure numbers are also typically among the leagues’ best, showing impact that doesn’t always come up on a traditional stat sheet.
McPhee is a solid veteran pass rush addition who can be a nice situational pass rusher. He’s never really been a full time player so total sack and pressure numbers aren’t that impressive, but for what he’s been on the field McPhee has done a nice job. Anderson is more of a concern as there were serious athletic questions surrounding him coming out of college and he did nothing as a rookie to make an impact. Early reports out of camp were more positive on Anderson, but his job is safe given his draft status as a 2nd round pick.
The only other outside linebacker on the depth chart with a chance to make the team is Pete Robertson and I think he comes up just short. Though listed on the outside he’s more of a hybrid player capable of backing up both inside and outside, and primarily being used on special teams. While he’s having a good camp, I think he could end up falling just short of making the team. Of potential cuts he’s probably the most likely to make it too the practice squad which ends up hurting him.
– Brown and Foster are the clear starters here, but the rest of the linebacker depth chart is up in the air. Harvey-Clemons likely has a spot locked down and it looks like he will be more than just the dime linebacker the Redskins were hoping for when they drafted him. He’s added some bulk and by all accounts has looked great in camp. Vigil has some good experience as a back-up and special teamer and I think he’s likely to still be part of the 2nd unit when the season starts. Hamilton is catching up to him despite being a 6th year rookie and missing parts of the last 2 years in college due to injury. With this deep of a group I just don’t see any room for Martrell Spaight on the 53 man roster.
– Norman is the only corner who is not only locked into a roster spot, but has a clearly defined role on the team. Dunbar, Moreau and Scandrick are all locks to make the roster, but it’s unclear how they will stack up on the depth chart. Overall I think Dunbar, who continues to impress will end up with the starting corner job on the outside opposite Norman. While I could see Scandrick starting the year as the primary slot corner, I think Moreau could end up over taking him at some point. Either way this is a solid group for the Redskins with a mix of experience and young upside.
The 5th and 6th corner spots are a bit more up in the air, but with the Holsey injury I think it is down to three guys, Alexander, Johnson and 7th round rookie Greg Stroman. Alexander was a 6th round supplemental pick so it seems unlikely that the Redskins would cut him without even giving him a shot to break camp with the team. Johnson and Stroman are both smaller corners with more of a slot skill set, so it is likely a battle between the two of them. Both have had some positive reports out of camp, but it sounds like Johnson might be a bit ahead of Stroman. I would expect whomever doesn’t make the team to be a signing on the practice squad.
– No real surprises with this position group. Swearinger and Nicholson are the clear starters and if healthy could be a pretty decent pairing in the league. Everett has stepped in as a back-up before, but his value really comes on special teams where he is one of key contributors. Apke was a 4th round rookie and while he’s shown some rookie hiccups in camp, he’s also shown some positive upside. Most 4th round picks make the team so it would be shocking for the Redskins to release him. Guys like Fish Smithson, Kenny Ladler and Quin Blanding all have shown some promise, but unless the Redskins keep 5 safeties they really don’t have a chance to make the team.