Welcome to Richmond, folks! It's a wonderful city and the feeling of football starting up in late Summer is one of the best feelings around. It's something we look forward to through the dreaded May-July months with so very little sport/football entertainment to quench our thirst.
The whole team reported to camp earlier today and already participated in a conditioning test and from what Jay Gruden said earlier, it appears that everyone is full-go when practice gets cranked up early tomorrow. The coaching staff, but more importantly we get a chance over the next month with numerous practices and four preseason games to develop our thoughts on who should actually be a Washington Redskin this season. It's a great honor, difficult to achieve, and surely an excruciating process to narrow down the field. Sure, Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan will have their opinions, but we'll have ours, too!
So, with that said, and having seen exactly zero practices and zero preseason games, here's my first projection for who will actually make the team come September.
Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy, Kirk Cousins
Robert's locked in as the starter right now, but with his history, he could get yanked, or injured, at just about anytime. It's obviously a make or break year for him, but some insurance is most definitely needed. The battle for QB2 will be a fun one to watch during camp.
Running Backs (4):
Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson
Morris is a Pro Bowler in a contract year. DY is one of the better FBs in football and very capable in the passing game and on the goal-line. Matt Jones is a third-round rookie who has tremendous size. I think he'll be the third-down back due to his ability as a blocker and a receiver out of the backfield. He'll almost certainly be Morris' primary backup, as well. I like Thompson to make it because he offers something different than the other backs and Gruden seems to like him. He has crazy good speed and just needs to stay healthy. Silas Redd and Trey Williams certainly have a chance here.
Wide Receivers (6):
DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Evan Spencer
Jackson's the best deep threat in football and arguably our best offensive player. Garcon had a phenomenal season two years ago and then tailed-off last year. He's in his prime and still an excellent WR. Roberts struggled with drops last season, but will still have a chance at the WR3 spot. He'll have competition from new fourth-round rookie Jamison Crowder who will almost certainly also be the team's PR. Roberts could be the primary KR. Grant is a young, polished WR who offers great depth and Spencer is a STs ace.
Tight Ends (3):
Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen
Jordan Reed is stellar when healthy. Health is the issue with him, though. Niles Paul is a more than adequate replacement who had a great season last year in Reed's absence. He's reportedly added weight to improve himself as a blocker, too. Paulsen makes it as the third TE who is a decent in-line blocker and can catch a few passes when called upon.
Offensive Line (9):
Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Arie Kouandjio, Josh LeRibeus, Tom Compton
TW is locked in at LT and is one of the best in the league. Lauvao was a highly-paid FA from a year ago who will supposedly perform better in Bill Callahan's power scheme. Kory was decent last year, his first at C. He seems a much more natural C than G and is adequate there. Spencer Long made Chris Chester expendable this off-season and offers the great size that the team is looking for. He was a rookie last year and will have to step up. Scherff was our first-round pick this year and will start out at RT. He played LT in college and many think he'll end up being a G at the pro level. Either way, he'll definitely get the first crack as the starting RT. He and Long on the right side has tremendous potential though lacks experience.
Moses should make the team as a reserve OT after being a third-round pick a year ago. He has potential. Kouandjio is a huge G who was drafted in the fourth round this year. Again, potential. LeRib may stick around another year thanks to learning the C position. His versatility and experience make him an ideal reserve. Compton should make it thanks to injury concerns on the part of TW and Moses and with the uncertainty involved with have a rookie at RT.
Defensive Line (7):
Jason Hatcher, Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean-Francois, Chris Baker, Frank Kearse, Kedric Golston
Hatcher is a great pass rusher who's season was cut short a year ago. Big things are expected this year after being the prized FA from last year. Knighton is arguably the best NT in the league. He's a mammoth of a man (330-365 lbs., no one really knows) and absolutely stuffs the run game. He'll anchor the unit and is on a one-year deal. He'll be incentivized to produce. Paea is an improving pass rusher entering his prime... Scot McCloughan's first prized FA addition. RJF is a hard working guy who has had the attention of McCloughan for years. He provides excellent depth and the ability to rotate in and contribute like a starter. Chris Baker is another huge guy who is entering his prime. Kearse surprised last year and after bouncing around the league a bit, he's starting to show why he was originally such a high draft pick. Golston is the longest tenured Redskin and offers incredible versatility, experience, and professionalism. He's getting older, but should stick around another year. Never enough depth along the DL.
Outside Linebackers (4):
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Trent Murphy, Trevardo Williams
Kerrigan is arguably the best player on the team and almost certainly the best player on the defensive side of the ball. He just re-upped earlier today to remain a Redskin for life. Preston Smith and Trent Murphy are our past two second-round picks and both will compete for the right to start opposite Kerrigan. Regardless, both will play... a lot. Murphy has already proven to be great against the run while needing to improve his pass rush. Everyone is very high on Smith's potential. Trevardo Williams makes it as the fourth OLB providing depth. He's underrated.
Inside Linebackers (5):
Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Martrell Spaight
Keenan Robinson had a break-out year of sorts last year and looks to be locked in as one of the starting ILBs for the foreseeable future. Perry Riley will have to hold off Will Compton for the other starting spot. Hayward is a STs ace/captain while Spaight looks to be that same player in the future. After being drafted in the fifth round this year, he should step in as a STs standout right away while developing his game/ability on defense.
Chris Culliver, Bashaud Breeland, DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tevin Mitchel
Chris Culliver was a big FA add this off-season and is immediately our best CB. Breeland had a great rookie year last year and should only improve. DeAngelo Hall is getting a little older and coming off injury, but he's still one of our top three CBs and may very well start. He is a leader on the team and a veteran mentor who still has skills... if the injury didn't diminish them. Amerson has all the size and skills you want, he just has yet to put them together. Still very young, he'll need to start producing to warrant his spot. Mitchel is a slot specialist who was drafted in the sixth round this year.
Dashon Goldson, Jeron Johnson, Duke Ihenacho, Trenton Robinson
Goldson is the only true FS on the roster and was drafted originally by McCloughan in SF. He's a former Pro Bowler coming off of two down years in TB. He'll need to regain form. Johnson was the primary backup for both Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas in Seattle the past couple of years in addition to being an absolute terror on STs. He's competing with Ihenacho for the starting SS spot and may find a way to contribute on STs regardless. He's also probably Goldson's primary backup at FS. Ihenacho is a very good young SS who is dynamite in the box/against the run but struggles in coverage. Don't rule out him starting at SS. Robinson is great on STs and has some ability at FS, as well.
Kai Forbath, Tress Way, Nick Sundberg
Forbath is a great FG kicker who still must improve his KO ability. Tress Way is one of the best Ps in the league. Sundberg is back to continue as the LS.
Last Four On:
Chris Thompson - Will have to stay healthy and is in a tight race with both Silas Redd and Trey Williams
Tom Compton - Are four OTs necessary? Is he better than Willie Smith?
Kedric Golston - They may opt for youth over experience. Do we need seven DL?
Trenton Robinson - They'll certainly keep at least four safeties, but Robinson is in a crowded bunch behind the top three. Are his abilities at FS and on STs enough to warrant that fourth spot?
Last Three Cuts:
Silas Redd - He could easily make it over Thompson or even with him. Still, he doesn't offer Thompson's speed and doesn't really offer anything that Morris and Jones don't.
Trey Williams - He's exciting and fast, but I'm not sure he's any better than Thompson. He's very small. We'll just need to see what he can do.
Kyshoen Jarrett - An undersized safety who was drafted this year and has excellent STs ability. They could opt to keep him over Trenton Robinson...