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A Way-Too-Early Projection of the Redskins Final 53-Man Roster

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May 6, 2012; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) participates in stretching exercises during rookie minicamp at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
May 6, 2012; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) participates in stretching exercises during rookie minicamp at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Parks Smith and I have put a lot of the positional battles under the microscope and will continue to do so until the final cuts are made. But to properly put those analyses into perspective, a look at the entire roster through a broad lens from time to time is appropriate.

A lot of players at different positions can make a good case that they will be valuable contributors. But the fact is only 53 can make the roster, and the line has to be drawn somewhere despite potential that could be had. Sometimes depth at positions of need is not worth sacrificing for a raw player with upside. Don't be surprised if that mentality remains true throughout the course of the preseason and ultimately determines who walks out of the tunnel when Week 1 arrives.

But as of right now, this is how the roster could shape up:

Quarterbacks (3)

Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins

Missing the Cut

Jonathan Crompton

They didn’t draft Kirk Cousins in the fourth round for no reason, even though many scratched their heads when the Redskins scooped him up. He’ll be on the final roster.

Halfbacks (3)

Tim Hightower, Roy Helu, Jr., Evan Royster

Missing the Cut

Alfred Morris, Antwan Bailey, Lennon Creer, Stafon Johnson


Tristan Davis

I like Alfred Morris, but I could see his journey through the pros taking a slight detour through the practice squad to start the season much like Evan Royster's did. Morris had some fumbling issues in college that should be considered, but his “demotion” is more of a testament to needing depth at other positions rather than Morris’ own shortcomings. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he was one of the first names called when an injury occurs.

As far as the remaining three backs go, I expect Mike Shanahan to use a method similar to this in order to determine who gets the bulk of the carries:

Fullbacks (1)

Darrel Young

Young showed a lot of promise last season in run blocking and even in picking up the blitz as the lone back in shotgun formations. He also looked very natural with the football, welcoming contact and breaking tackles, which was a pleasant surprise from a player that is still relatively new to the position. I expect to see more of him this season, especially given that extra help will be needed in heavy formations due to the lack of blocking tight ends on the roster.

Wide Receivers (6)

Pierre Garcon, Joshua Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Anthony Armstrong, Brandon Banks

Missing the Cut

Terrence Austin, Aldrick Robinson, Darius Hanks, Brian Hernandez, Sam Kirkland, Lance Lewis

Gone are the days when 20 percent of the roster is composed of wide receivers. Now, I expect a more manageable number to make the cut, especially with the acquisitions of Joshua Morgan and Pierre Garcon as well as a healthy Leonard Hankerson ready to make a push for the starting job.

For the reserves, Anthony Armstrong’s familiarity with the offense will be needed to provide insurance to a position that features three receivers who have been hampered by injuries in recent history. Brandon Banks is the incumbent return man who can be employed in the offense at times, but is nothing more than a gimmick. Terrence Austin may receive a phone call in case one of the starters goes down, and as much as I like Aldrick Robinson’s speed and elusiveness, there is just no room for him at this point, and he still has practice squad eligibility.

Tight Ends (4)

Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul

Missing the Cut

Richard Quinn, Beau Reliford

Now, things are starting to get a little hairy. Four tight ends is a bit on the heavy side, but I think Mike Shanahan’s hands are tied. Chris Cooley and Fred Davis would like to be relied on most of the way, but Cooley’s health is a concern and there always seems to be something going on with Davis off of the field. Paulsen is the pounder of the group who will be needed in goal line formations and special teams, while Paul could emerge as a versatile threat off the line and serve as a wide receiver in case of an emergency.

And it’s been said before, but I’ll say it again on here: If Cooley isn’t ready to go, the unemployment line may be a more likely destination for him than the PUP list.

Offensive Linemen (9)

Trent Williams, Jammal Brown, Tyler Polumbus, Willie Smith, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Will Montgomery

Missing the Cut

James Lee, Tom Compton, Maurice Hurt, Erik Cook, Grant Garner, Nevin McCaskill, Nick Martinez, Cole Pemberton

Injury after suspension after injury made it rough goings for the offensive line last season, and one would think this position would carry the most depth going forward. The projected starting five from a season ago are locks again this year, but the reserves look a little different. Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis will provide youth and an extra element of athleticism to the roster, and Willie Smith performed admirably after being thrown to the wolves late last season.

Tyler Polumbus has the ability to play either tackle position and can even kick inside to guard. Though he was awful last season, I still think he makes the cut over James Lee. Polumbus has the versatility and familiarity with the offense, and seems to have earned the trust of his coaches early on.

Defensive Linemen (6)

Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Barry Cofield, Chris Neild

Missing the Cut

Kentwan Balmer, Darrion Scott, Doug Worthington, Chris Baker, Delvin Johnson

Everyone will be thrilled to see Jarvis Jenkins take the field again after the glimpse he gave spectators during the 2011 preseason. In wake of his torn ACL, a revolving door of reserve linemen swung its way into camp with names like Kentwan Balmer and Darrion Scott and Doug Worthington in the mix for his vacated roster spot. Barring another injury to one or more of the aforementioned six, I don’t think they’ll be as fortunate this time around.

Linebackers (9)

Brian Orakpo , Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson, Markus White, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander, Jonathan Goff, Keenan Robinson

Missing the Cut

Bryan Kehl, Chris Wilson, D.J. Holt, Monte Lewis, Brian McNally

There shouldn’t be too many surprises here. I think the biggest factor in determining the linebacker situation is Jonathan Goff’s health. He sat out the entire season with—you guessed it—a torn ACL. If he shows significant signs of a bounce back, he is an absolute steal for the Redskins. At full health, he would be a serviceable starter for any team in the league, and would be worth hanging on to given that London Fletcher’s days are numbered.

Keenan Robinson could be another answer when Fletcher finally vacates his position, and for now, I think they’ll start him off in a special teams role similar to how Perry Riley began his career in D.C. Only if Robinson severely struggles will I start to lean toward special-teams contributor Bryan Kehl making the roster. Kehl would be nice to have on the roster but he does not offer anything that the Redskins don’t already have in Lorenzo Alexander.

Chris Wilson is another name worth taking note of this summer, as he will return to D.C. and try out for the team he played with for four seasons. Wilson spent the past two years playing in the Canadian Football League. If all goes well, he could push Markus White or Rob Jackson for a spot at outside linebacker.

Defensive Backs (9)

DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Kevin Barnes, Morgan Trent, Tanard Jackson, Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes

Missing the Cut

Madieu Williams, David Jones, Brandyn Thompson, Richard Crawford, Jordan Bernstine, Michael Hamlin, Travon Bellamy

The clutter at safety will likely mean that the cornerback position could be a little thinner than past seasons, and the recent news of Chase Minnifield being waived only makes matters worse. Minnifield's injury could be a precursor of what's to come this season, as Cedric Griffin, Morgan Trent and David Jones have all struggled to see the field in some capacity throughout their careers.

At this point, I think the final corner spot comes down to Trent vs. Jones, and I give Trent a slight edge only because he has more experience playing from the slot. It's a position that the Redskins could certainly use more depth at as long as they are in a division intent on airing the ball out.

As far as safety goes, there’s not much good news to report. I’ll start with some positives: DeJon Gomes did plenty last year to warrant a spot on the team this season despite the amount of veteran help the team enlisted via free agency. Fans seem to hate Reed Doughty, but he has done plenty well enough in the run game to keep his name plate on a locker.

Uncertainty lies just about everywhere else, though. Brandon Meriweather is talented, but faltered immensely in Chicago’s Tampa 2 scheme and will look to resurrect his career in a new system that suits him better. Tanard Jackson is another potentially good find, but he is coming off of a torn rotator cuff and is arguably the worst tackler the NFL has seen over the past four seasons- yes, even before his injury.

But both still have upside, which is something that Madieu Williams will have a tough time convincing his coaches that he still has with seven years in the league under his belt. It is not a long-shot for him to the roster by any means, but at the moment I see him on the outside looking in.

Special Teams (3)

Neil Rackers, Sav Rocca, Nick Sundberg

Missing the Cut

Graham Gano, Me (when they immediately kick me off for trying my hand at long-snapper)

I don’t know who gets the edge right now in the kicking battle. Rackers has tailed-off from his pro-bowl days, and Graham Gano’s inconsistency is maddening despite his ability to convert from long distances. This might be the biggest coin flip of all camp battles the Redskins will have going forward, so in the meantime- I’m going to, well, flip a coin.


OK, Rackers. I guess.