It's the exciting season for Redskins fans. The offseason is when optimism runs wild and the Redskins are poised for a playoff run! Plus, we get all kinds of new toys to talk about via draft picks and free agents. Before training camp starts, each NFL team is allowed 90 "players" on its roster. A bunch are here just for training camp and everyone knows it. Along with the guys who are locks to make the team (Reed Doughty), there are always a couple surprises and longshots. Fans get the time to check these guys out during the offseason and watch them throughout training camp and the preseason and pick their favorites. Here at Hogs Haven, we even have an award for these longshots that so many fans adore.
The offseason is also when we as fans get to scrutinize the roster. We identify holes, weak positions, areas of strength, breakout candidates, you name it. What else are we supposed to do? We're football fans in July! Everyone loves to play couch GM and that's exactly what I intend to do here. In the comments, you get to do the same thing. Tell me where you agree and where you disagree. We want to hear your ideas for the Redskins 53-man roster. There are a lot of different ways to get from 90 down to 53 and everyone thinks they know best. Of course, it's very early and everyone's opinions will probably change throughout camp, but that's part of the fun. We'll get to do this again later and see what's changed.
Time to get ready for the Texans. Here is my early projection for the 2014 Washington Redskins final 53-man roster (starters are in italics):
Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins
At this point, it looks like Cousins has survived the offseason as a Redskin. I wouldn't expect them to trade him this close to the season and I expect he'll be our back-up for another year. We can all fire up the Kirk Cousins trade machine again next year. Some people argue that the Redskins should keep three QB's on the roster this year due to injury concerns/possibilities with RGIII, but RGIII is completely healthy now. He's a full year-and-a-half removed/recovered from his ACL injury and surgery, and looks spry and as strong as ever. Also, if he were to get injured again, I have faith that a Colt McCoy/Pat White-caliber replacement could be found. Also, it should be noted that Jay Gruden and the Bengals only kept two QB's throughout his three years as Offensive Coordinator there.
Offensive Line (9)
Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Spencer Long, Morgan Moses, Mike McGlynn, Adam Gettis
That's right, no Tom Compton. I know a lot of people are on the Tom Compton hype-wagon right now, but hear me out. It's almost guaranteed that the Redskins are going to keep three OT's. There's just not enough room with other great players and needs at other positions to keep four. Trent Williams is a lock, and Morgan Moses is a lock too due to being a third-round rookie drafted by the newly acquired HC. At this point, it's doubtful that Moses is ready to start by week one and Polumbus is the most experienced (and unfortunately probably best) RT we have on the roster. If Moses were ready to start, I'd keep Compton as the backup simply because he's younger and who knows if he'll improve, but we need the best guy out there for week one and in my opinion, Polumbus is still that guy. Also, I think Gruden's drafting of Long and Moses could indicate he's not quite enamored with Compton and LeRibeus.
Wide Receiver (6)
Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, Ryan Grant, Aldrick Robinson
For me, it's tough to leave Hank off the list. I think his injury is what's really dooming him here and I think he could begin the season on the PUP list. I think Robinson is going to need to have a really strong camp/preseason to hold off Cody Hoffman, but ultimately I think the speedster hangs on. Some will question Moss making the team, but Gruden seems very high on him and I am too... still.
Tight End (3)
Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul
Unless something drastically changes in the coming weeks, Ted Bolser just isn't very good. He's really going to have to shine on Special Teams to even have a chance. Perhaps he sticks on the Practice Squad. On the other hand, we already know that Paul shines on ST's and I think his value as a ST's captain is really keeping him as a lock to make this team.
Running Back (4)
Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Darrel Young, Chris Thompson
In my opinion, this is the hardest decision/position to call on the whole team. This will obviously only happen if Thompson can stay healthy. If he can't, Seastrunk takes his position. Figuring as Thompson and Seastrunk are so similar, part of me wants to go with Seastrunk just because he was drafted by Gruden and not Shanahan. But Shanny knows RBs, and I think there's a spot on the PS for Seastrunk. Thompson's a little older, has a little more experience, and I think he'll be given the first chance at that fourth RB spot. Health is the big concern. Seastrunk making it over Thompson wouldn't surprise anybody and in my opinion, that's going to be one of the most entertaining battles all camp.
Defensive Line (7)
Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Chris Baker, Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Clifton Geathers
Baker is my breakout candidate for the year. I think he's going to have a great season and I wouldn't be surprised to see him get 4-5 sacks. With all the attention on Hatcher, Cofield, Orakpo, and Kerrigan, Baker is going to be in some very nice positions to wreak havoc in the backfield. I really like the versatility added by keeping Geathers because I think both he and Baker can play NT in a pinch. And as much as everyone is going to adore Chris Neild after watching him on that new workout show American Muscle (a bunch of guys are going to yell at him and force him to lift crazy amounts of weight), I just think that Geathers being brought in signals the end of the line here for Neild. It's important to keep seven guys here because this group as a whole is older and a little more injury prone. Hatcher and Bowen are both hurt and Jenkins had the major ACL tear only a couple years ago. Bowen is hurt, expensive, and a little bit older, but I still think he's a good player, can contribute, and the coaching staff seems to be leaning towards including him in their plans.
Outside Linebacker (5)
Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Trent Murphy, Rob Jackson, Brandon Jenkins
The big question here is will they keep four or five? If they keep four, Jackson and Jenkins are going to be battling it out. However, I think they're both good football players and I think both should make the team. Even though Jenkins was a fifth-round choice last year, some people were saying he could have been a first-round choice had he not been injured. Another year removed from that injury and we should be able to see significant progress in camp. I think he'll play his way onto the team. He's young and has a lot of potential. I look forward to seeing him healthy and I don't think we can give up on him, yet. We'll see if Gruden holds it against him for being drafted by Shanny...
Inside Linebacker (5)
Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Akeem Jordan, Darryl Sharpton, Adam Hayward
Robinson has been getting a lot of hype. We've been waiting to see what this guy can do but he keeps hurting his pecs. He has to stay healthy and show that he's capable of beating out the other guys to earn a starting spot. London Fletcher leaving creates a very big hole to fill and Robinson says he's been learning the calls for a couple years now. Even though he's been hurt, he's been able to watch and learn from one of the greats. That gives him the edge to start. Well, that and the fact that he can cover a TE. The other guys (especially Hayward) are all great on ST's and will contribute immensely there. Kotwica is thrilled to see all five make the roster.
David Amerson, DeAngelo Hall, Tracy Porter, E.J. Biggers, Bashaud Breeland
This is going to come down to Biggers against Crawford, in my opinion. I think Biggers' versatility being able to play a little Safety along with the fact that he has some inappropriate pictures of Raheem Morris will keep him on the roster. Crawford is a good Punt Returner, but we have other guys capable of filling in there this year and Crawford is coming off some major injuries. He's still not completely recovered and I think that hurts his chances. I think Crawford could be put on the PUP list. Oh, and sorry to the Minnifield legion (and in advance, the Bridget legion, too).
Ryan Clark, Brandon Meriweather, Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo
Thomas could be the starter by midseason and I don't think anyone would be surprised. Rambo is no lock to make the roster by any stretch and he's going to have to figure out what the term "Special Teams" means if he wants a chance. He really needs to show significant improvement in his tackling. He should probably send Tanard Jackson a thank you letter.
Kai Forbath, Robert Malone, Nick Sundberg
It's going to be very interesting watching Forbath and Hocker kick during preseason... field goals and kickoffs. I think the Redskins would love the luxury of keeping Hocker on just for kickoffs and let Forbath focus on field goals, but I don't think the numbers allow for that kind of luxury. It'll also be interesting to see how Malone performs. I think everyone is just hoping he's average and if he can't do that, someone else could be brought in. Don't be completely shocked if Hocker beats out Forbath. Hocker is a drafted kicker. That doesn't happen everyday. Somebody on this coaching staff really likes him. Which one of those guys is going to miss a couple kicks in the preseason? I like Forbath... for now.
By my count that's 24 offensive players, 26 defensive players, and three specialists. That's a talented and deep roster heading into the season. Pray for no injuries. Who you guys got?
"Alex, Alex, Alex...how dare you leave off Hank the Tank!! I feel violated. I have a hunch that Chris Nield will somehow survive, but I won't take issue with that today. If Richard Crawford can't show it in August, you will be right on him, but it says here he is our 4th cornerback (Biggers gets the axe). To keep Hankerson, I will have to make the hard choice and cut Aldrick. I know, I know...but Hank's size is the difference maker for Jay-G. I can't believe how much a simple 53-man roster projection in mid-July hypes me up."
-Ken Meringolo, Hogs Haven Managing Editor