-Among all the offensive positions this is the clearest one to predict. Smith and McCoy give the Redskins a veteran starter and quality back-up, which gives them the confidence to keep only two QBs on the 53 man roster. There is a slight concern that McCoy isn’t 100% as he hurt his thumb in the 3rd preseason game, but it’s likely not a serious enough injury for the Redskins to consider keeping a 3rd QB. Kevin Hogan had an up-and-down preseason, and should earn a practice squad spot.
-This is one of the toughest calls for the Redskins as they need to decide if they keep 4 or 5 running backs and if they only keep four, who doesn’t make the team. Peterson and Thompson are safe and locked in to their roles, but after that it gets a bit murky, with 3 or 4 options to consider for maybe only two spots:
Rob Kelley- Kelley is a clear coaches favorite and while he lacks major upside or is much of a receiver out of the back-field, he’s a hard worker and will do whatever the coaches ask. He has shown both in the past and this preseason some positive production, which could be enough to keep him.
Samaje Perine- Perine is just a year removed from being a 4th round pick, and while he’s been a bit disappointing so far, he does offer decent upside and 3 years of cheap team control. Perine has had some fumbling issues which is a major concern, but he’s also a bit more of a well-rounded back, though not a true 3rd down back.
Kapri Bibbs- Bibbs has a real shot to stick given that the team may feel the need to keep a dedicated 3rd down back behind Thompson, who is coming off a serious injury. Bibbs has been solid this preseason and with Marshall banged up he’s the only healthy 3rd down option remaining.
Byron Marshall- Marshall is injured right now, so he’s likely to be released, but there is a chance that the team opts to place him on IR to start the season and potentially bring him back mid-year if they need him. He was probably ahead of Bibbs in the back-up 3rd down competition when he got injured. Keeping him on the 53 seems like a major longshot.
In the end I think the Redskins opt to keep Kelley the coaches favorite and Perine the higher upside guy with some team control. Maybe Marshall gets stashed on IR, but the Redskins enter the year without a dedicated 3rd down back-up to Thompson. It’s a bit of a risk, but Perine and Kelley can handle the duties in a pinch and if Thompson is dealing with an injury and can’t play the Redskins can look to sign someone.
-Doctson and Richardson will handle the outside duties and Crowder will return as the team’s slot receiver. Beyond that though, little is set in stone.
Maurice Harris is pretty likely to make the team, but he’s a guy who doesn’t have a lot of experience to begin with and has dealt with injuries in his career. That leaves essentially three guys for two spots and it’s a really tough call:
Trey Quinn- Quinn is probably the safest of the three because he plays a more unique role. He’s a natural slot, on a team that by in large has almost no experience in the slot beyond Jamison Crowder. Brian Quick has worked there a little, but Doctson, Richardson, Harris and Sims aren’t really fits for that role or have any experience there. Quinn also has the advantage of being an option to take over punt return duties from Crowder, and he looks to be the favorite to start the season. He had an up-and-down preseason, but he does have the potential to develop into a decent starting slot option in the future.
Cam Sims- Sims is a fan favorite and it’s clear he has support in the front office and coaching staff. On one hand he’s a 6’5″ receiver with decent jump ball ability who made a number of splash plays in the preseason. On the other hand he’s a raw receiver, who is well behind as a route runner, with little college production or an impressive athletic profile. While it looks like there is something there to develop. He’s also probably the least likely to contribute this season and he’s got a decent shot of making it to the practice squad.
Brian Quick– Quick has not lived up to his 2nd round hype in his career, but a couple seasons he has put up decent number 3 WR production (or was on pace for it before injuries). He’s shown that he can have some level of production/success in the league, which makes him an ideal back-up. Quick actually has the most NFL experience of any WR on the team, and he’s versatile enough to back-up all three WR roles which is an added plus. He’s had a quite preseason prior to the 4th game, but he was dealing with an injury.
I think overall it boils down to 3 things in the Quick vs Sims battle for the final WR job. 1. Would the Redskins be content with almost zero experience in the trio of Harris, Quinn, Sims behind the starters. 2. How concerning is Harris’ injuries, will he need to miss some time to start the year. 3. What are the chances that Sims makes it through to the practice squad. How the Redskins determine those questions will go a long way to determining who makes the team.
-There is no question that Reed, Davis and Sprinkle make the team, but the Redskins now need to decide if they keep a 4th TE. Earlier in the preseason that seemed highly unlikely, but now with the addition of Adrian Peterson it’s quite possible, if not probable. Peterson is a back who has always done better with a fullback in the backfield with him. Though the Redskins aren’t going to set their offense back 20 years and use a FB at a high rate, they should consider having one on the roster for a couple formations to help utilize Peterson. The Redskins might opt to sign a natural fullback, but there are advantages in using a hybrid TE since you can then line him up in TE roles in other formations.
None of the Redskins top 3 TEs are ideal fits for the hybrid role, which is why Holtz could go from not being with the team for the first preseason game, to on the 53 man roster. Holtz has looked good in both the FB and TE role these past couple of weeks and even caught a TD in the 4th preseason game. This might not be a roster spot that is safe all season, but for now the Redskins should consider having a FB option to start the year.
-The starters are clearly set, and Ty Nsekhe is the Redskins swing tackle option. After that things are a bit murky as the Redskins are likely to keep three more linemen, but the back-up OL really struggled throughout the preseason. It’s quite possible that the Redskins opt to trade for or sign a player off waivers to fill out their depth chart. Third round pick Geron Christian is basically a lock to make the team, despite really struggling in the preseason. He does offer upside and long term value, and it is extremely rare for a team to cut any player drafted before the 5th round as a rookie.
That leaves just two spots and the Redskins should add two guys with interior experience given that they are backing-up three positions and Nsekhe has just limited experience inside. Tony Bergstrom is a veteran with center and guard ability, who has started some games in the league. He’s struggled in the preseason, but he’s probably better than the rest of the options. Initially it looked like a three way race between Tyler Catalina, Kyle Kalis and T.J. Clemmings (who is more of a tackle) for the final job, but I’ve been really impressed with Casey Dunn the past few weeks. He’s probably been the most consistent back-up OL not named Nsekhe, and last year he showed he could find success in the SEC. Dunn at the very least deserves a practice squad role if the Redskins fill this spot outside of the organization.