The Redskins have set their initial 53 man roster and all eight of the Redskins 2018 draft picks, in addition to their Supplemental sixth-rounder and three undrafted free agents all made the roster. It’s possible the Redskins could still make some tweaks to their roster, but it looks like they will enter 2018 with 11 rookies on their roster and 2nd rounder Derrius Guice on injured reserve. Here is a look at the 11 rookies and what to expect from them:
-Payne joins an impressive young defensive line as the anchor in the middle of the Redskins base 3-4 defense. Though being big and strong are his primary calling card, Payne has great first step quickness and can cause serious headaches in the passing game as well. Payne is versatile enough to play both the 5 and 3 tech roles as well as the traditional NT role he’s envisioned for. Expect Payne to be in on defense 50-60% of the time as a rookie, with the hope that he can become more of a 70% player down the road. Of all the rookie Payne will have the biggest initial impact and has the highest upside as well.
-Chrisitan was considered a high ceiling/low floor type of player entering the draft. He was a long, athletically gifted offensive tackle, who got the job done, but it wasn’t typically pretty. Christian’s footwork and technique were big problem areas, and would get exposed versus NFL competition. That fear was immediately clear in the preseason as 2nd and 3rd teamers were giving him problems. Though a 3rd rounder, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Christian inactive every week and ideally not see the field this season. The hope is long term he can add some more muscle and work on his technique and footwork. If he can accomplish those things he does have long term starting potential.
-The Redskins knew they were getting a raw project when they took Apke in the 4th round. He was just a one year starter at Penn State, but he played well and tested phenomenally at the Combine. He still needs to learn the nuance of the position, so he’s unlikely to get much work on defense as a rookie, but he could be a core special teams player. Long term the hope is he develops into a starter, though it could take a couple of years.
-Settle was thought highly in draft circles and considered by many as a top 75 player, which made him quite the steal when the Redskins took him in the 5th round. Settle is a big physical force in the middle of the defensive line, who excels as a run defender. He plays smart and had a couple of pass deflections due to knowing when to clog the passing lane. After a strong preseason Settle has earned himself a shot of being a key contributor along the defensive line. He should be active every week and seek 15-30% of the defensive snaps as a rotational player. Though unlikely to find a starting role with the Redskins any time soon, he could continue to carve out a bigger role for himself.
-Hamilton dealt with injuries the past two years at Alabama, which is why he fell to the 6th round. He would have gone a couple rounds higher if he didn’t have a checkered injury history, so the Redskins all along knew there was upside there. So far, so good as Hamilton looks healthy and had a pretty strong preseason. He showed clear potential and he could fight for a starting role in a year or two. Right now though he’s likely regulated to special teams and probably is third string behind the starters and back-ups Zach Vigil and Josh Harvey-Clemons.
-Alexander was a surprise Supplemental draft selection for the Redskins as they gave up their 6th rounder next season for the young corner. Alexander had a great Freshman year at Virginia Tech, but saw his play decline the past two years. He’s a big, long corner with pretty decent speed and potential. Alexander missed a good bit of camp/preseason dealing with injuries, but when he did play the final two weeks he made plays. He’s very raw and is more upside than NFL ready right now, but the Redskins were likely to keep him all along. He’s a raw talent who in a couple of years could be a starter in the league. Until then he will primarily be used on Special teams and might even be inactive to start the year.
-Stroman had a solid career at Virginia Tech and was drafted as a potential slot corner with special teams ability. He wasn’t a lock to make the team initially, but he had a strong camp and showed some versatility to play both inside and outside. Though probably behind UDFA Danny Johnson in the corner pecking order to start the year, he could still be active a number of weeks during the season. Long term he’s likely viewed as a cheap back-up and special teamer for a couple of seasons, and the hope that he could develop into more.
-Quinn was the final pick in the NFL Draft, but right away it became pretty clear he had a strong shot to make the Redskins 53 man roster. Not only was he coming off a highly productive season at SMU and had plenty of late round draft buzz, but he fit a clear need for the Redskins. Among all the receivers in camp with the Redskins that had a chance to make the team, only Jamison Crowder and Trey Quinn had real experience in the slot (Brian Quick had a little experience, but not much). Given the importance of the role on the team it made sense for the Redskins to have a back-up on the team in case Crowder got injured.
Long term Quinn could find himself in a larger role than just a back-up slot receiver as Crowder is in his final year before free agency. If the Redskins don’t retain him, they could envision Quinn as the successor if he has a good year. This season Quinn figures to spend most of his time on special teams and could open the year as the Redskins primary punt returner. That should keep him on the active roster each week, which would help him get some work with the offense as well.
-Johnson was undrafted, but he was talked up in the NFL draft community and many thought he would end up a 5th-7th round pick. Johnson showed the Redskins in his first camp that they got themselves a steal. Not only did he earn a 53 man roster spot, but Johnson enters the year as the team’s likely 4th corner. Johnson looks to be the most advanced of the three rookie corners to make the team, and he was a big reason why the Redskins cut veteran Orlando Scandrick.
Johnson is a bit on the smaller side, but he showed he could play both outside and in the slot. As a fourth corner, Johnson will see most of his work on special teams and could even get a look at punt return duties. He will likely see around 200 Defensive snaps this year even without any major injuries ahead of him. If Johnson continues to develop he could one day be a starter, but first he will need to pass the test of being the primary back-up.
-Sims barely was involved in Alabama’s offense the past couple years and looked like an afterthought during the draft process. He’s 6’5″ with okay athleticism which earned him a look from NFL teams. Sims made the most of his chances with the Redskins as he made a number of big plays in the first two preseason games. Though still very raw and unrefined, Sims offers intriguing upside that the Redskins didn’t want to expose to waivers. He’s unlikely to be active most weeks, but could find his way on the game day roster the first couple of weeks if Maurice Harris remains injured. Sims though has long term potential and if he can develop as a route runner he could find himself as a primary back-up next season.
-Dunn was a two time FCS All-American at Jacksonville State, before transferring to play at Auburn last year. Though he didn’t start the season as a starter, he did end up making nine starts for the Tigers down the stretch and holding his own versus SEC competition. Dunn appeared to be quite the long shot at the start of camp, but he really played well and earned his spot. His work in the preseason was very impressive and he was one of the top 2nd or 3rd team offensive linemen each week. Dunn’s spot is probably the least safe on the 53 man roster as the team could cut him for a veteran and then send him to the practice squad. If he’s on the team all year, I’d expect him to be inactive most weeks, but he did show some upside where he could earn a larger role next season.