For the last 10 years, the Washington Redskins have lacked depth. Heck, some may even argue that we lacked starters. In a league where injuries are prevalent, depth can mean the difference between 10-6 or 6-10.
Wow, how the tides have changed. Going into the 2013 season, the Redskins are the deepest I can remember in the last 20 years. This depth not only is quality depth, but it comes at key positions on the roster. We are not deep at kicker or center, but we are deep at positions like quarterback, pass-rushing outside linebacker, and cornerback.
Below is a breakdown or some of our key positions of depth on this years roster, and how that depth can impact our 2013 season.
Quarterback - let's start with the most obvious, and most important. We all saw how an injury to your starting signal caller can effect a team. It's truly a blessing to be able to have not just one, but two competent signal callers who are able to replace Robert Griffin if he gets nicked up at all this season. I can argue that Kirk Cousins may be the best back-up in the entire NFL, and for as much as people tend to get on him, you won't find a better third string quarterback than Rex Grossman. Put it this way, if either guy had to enter the game with a six point deficit in the fourth quarter of a game, we'd at least have a shot to win. This can not be said for 3/4 of the league.
Running Back - If Helu is healthy (which it appears he is), is there a better 1-2 combo in the NFL at running back? Morris has 1500 plus yard annual potential, and has not had any significant issues with durability. Helu is an explosive, change-of-pace back, who could be starting for many teams in the NFL. Looking beyond these two, even Royster and possibly Thompson give us even more solid depth and some potential explosion(Thompson of course), to fall back on should one of our top two go down.
Offensive Line - I grouped this position together because even though we don't have a competent starter at right tackle, I do believe we have some solid depth as a unit. Compton and Gettis have both been pretty impressive this preseason, and both men, I believe, can play more than one position. Gettis can slide into center in a pinch, and Compton has the versatility to kick over to right tackle, and even guard if needed. Both could be eventual starters as soon as next season. If Tony Pashos is kept on the 53 man roster, he offers a veteran presence at either tackle spot should a starter go down.
Wide Receiver - Some (including myself)say we don't have a true number two receiver on this team, but what we do have are some solid guys who provide great depth and versatility across the board. There is not a better third/fourth option in the NFL than Santana Moss, and guys like Hankerson and Robinson offer Kyle Shanahan a lot of different looks to incorporate into his offensive schemes. Our wide receiver corps may not be great from top to bottom, but as a functional unit, they are as sound as you can be.
Tight End - At one time, the Patriots had the best tight end corps in the NFL but not anymore. The Redskins may not have the best individual tight end in the league, but it's hard to find a team with more quality depth. Fred Davis, when healthy, is a dynamic playmaker in this offense. Jordan Reed offers the same type of athleticism, but will need some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL. Logan Paulsen is as solid and dependable as they come. He doesn't do any one thing great, but he does all the little things well, and must be accounted for whenever he's on the field. Niles Paul is still finding his niche in this offense, but he has the athletic ability and work ethic to take his game up a notch. I'm curious if there is a better four in the NFL?
Outside Linebacker - 3-4 outside linebackers are tough to find. You need a player who can set the edge against the run, and cause havoc in an opposing teams backfield on passing downs. Oh, and I forgot to mention, you just may have to drop into coverage every once in a while. Well, the Redskins are fortunate enough to have two Pro Bowl caliber outside linebackers in Orakpo and Kerrigan. Behind them, the depth is solid with Jackson, Tapp and rookie Brandon Jenkins. Find me a better group of outside linebackers in the NFL, and I'll buy you a cheesesteak.
Inside Linebacker - Some people view this as a potential problem area, but I view our depth as a strength. Fletcher is still ticking at the ripe ole age of 38, and Riley is a star in the making. Behind them you have Bryan Kehl and Nick Barnett, both of whom have starting potential. When Keenan Robinson is healthy, he adds a different dimension to the defense and special teams.
Cornerback. - Hall and Wilson should be gone next season, but before the infusion of youth hits the secondary, we have a group who possesses great veteran leadership, skill, and some athletic youth. Rookie David Amerson is the future, but his future may actually be the present. He's shown very well this preseason, and it looks as though the Redskins may have got themselves a steal in the second round. Everyone's darling Chase Minnifield is finally healthy, and he's shown fans he's a solid player. Biggers, who was brought in from Tampa Bay as a free agent this off-season, has had a rough preseason so far, but he still offers youth, size and athleticism to the unit. The loss of Richard Crawford hurts, but the depth we have built up will help us compensate for his absence.