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Post Draft 53 Man roster prediction: Defense

Steve Shoup

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53 Man roster Prediction: Offense | 53 Man roster prediction: Defense

Defensive Line: 6 – Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle, Caleb Brantley, JoJo Wicker

-The Redskins have one of the best interior defensive line groups in the league with Allen, Payne and Ioannidis all high level quality starters. Allen has the highest upside of the bunch and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him become a perennial All-Pro talent. While these three should soak up most of the snaps for this position group, the Redskins have some intriguing depth behind their starters. Settle and Brantley are two young players with the upside to develop into starters. They shouldn’t see too much work, but when they do they can give the Redskins solid reps. Given how strong the starters are and the primary back-ups, it’s possible the Redskins only opt to keep 5 defensive linemen on the 53 man roster. Typically though they have kept 6 or even 7, so I don’t know if they want to tempt fate. If they do keep a 6th defensive lineman, it’s unclear who would have the lead, but the team seems to be high on Wicker, who was on the practice squad last season.

Outside Linebackers: 4 – Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Ryan Anderson, Jordan Brailford

-Kerrigan returns at one EDGE role, and he will now be joined by first round rookie Montez Sweat at the other spot. This gives the Redskins potentially two 10+ sack guys on the EDGE and what could be one of the better pairings in the league. This allows Ryan Anderson to move back into a run defense/back-up role for which he’s better suited. The 4th LB battle could come down between 7th round Brailford and Cassanova McKinzy, who flashed a little last year. While McKinzy is interesting and he could push for a 5th OLB to be kept, I think Brailford has more upside and can be utilized as a quality situational rusher.

Inside Linebackers: 4 – Mason Foster, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Cole Holcomb

-With Reuben Foster suffering what could potentially be a season ending injury, there could be a lot of shake-up at this position. The Redskins were likely to keep 5 inside backers even before the injury, but now it’s tough to make the case for a 5th option. I would say it’s likely the team signs a replacement if it is truly a season ending injury. Harvey-Clemons has developed some, but he still can’t be relied on more than spot duty. Rookie Cole Holcomb has a lot of potential and an intriguing athletic profile, but he’s likely only an option for special teams to start. The Redskins had really hoped that Reuben Foster would turn their ILB play into an average (at best) unit to an actual strength. Now if he’s gone there are some concerns here.

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Cornerbacks: 7 – Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Greg Stroman, Jimmy Moreland, Dominque Rogers-Cromartie, Adonis Alexander

-One possible area where the loss of Reuben Foster (assuming he is on the PUP/IR list) opens up a spot on the roster is at corner back. The Redskins top three corner spots are pretty well set with Norman, Dunbar and Moreau. Injury concerns of Dunbar are something to monitor, but overall that is a solid top trio. Behind them things are bit more up in the air. Last year three late round/UDFA rookies (Stroman, Alexander and Danny Johnson) handled the three depth roles, but the Redskins added Jimmy Moreland in the 7th round and signed Dominique Rogers-Cromartie as a veteran option. That gives the Redskins 5 guys competing for 3 maybe 4 spots. Stroman seems the most safe of this group, but it should be a good position battle to watch this offseason.

Safeties: 4 – Landon Collins, Montae Nicholson, Troy Apke, Deshazor Everett

-The Redskins made the big move this offseason to land Landon Collins, but their other safety position is in flux. Right now it’s Montae Nicholson’s job to lose, but the Redskins can’t feel comfortable about their FS starter or their depth here. With a lack of competition in camp, Apke and Everett are fair bets to make the team, but their value is mainly going to be on special teams. Perhaps the talk of Rogers-Cromartie being a jack-of-all-trades defensive back, will give the Redskins some additional depth for the position, but it’s really unclear if that’s a viable option at this point.

Specialists: 3 – Tress Way, Dustin Hopkins, Nick Sundberg

-No real surprises here as the Redskins are very happy with both Way and Hopkins. The only question is if Sundberg is healthy or not. He dealt with injuries last season and was forced to miss time at the end of the season. If he’s not healthy enough to go this season, I’d imagine that Andrew East takes his place again.



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