With most of training camp done now and preseason games on the docket, it's time for the second guess at our 53-man roster. We've had ample practice time and read enough analysis to think we've got it all figured out. Except I do have it all figured out. Don't worry. I'll share the knowledge with you. Here's what it'll look like:
Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy, Kirk Cousins
No change here. I guess they could potentially keep only two QBs. Do the Jets call about Kirk? I think they'll keep all three.
Running Backs (4):
Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson
No change here, either. Thompson's having a great camp and I feel confident in this group. Chris just needs to get through the preseason injury-free.
Wide Receivers (6):
DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Evan Spencer
No change. A lot of people around here lately have been talking about only keeping five WRs and putting Spencer on the PS. I think they like him a lot and I think they'll keep him. The dude is absolutely excellent on STs and I expect him to show that quite a bit during the preseason games. He also offers something a little different and unique compared to the rest of the group. He has great size and is possibly the best blocker in the group. Variety is the spice of life when looking at a WR corps.
Tight Ends (3):
Niles Paul, Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen*
OK, things are a little interesting here. For starters, Niles is now the starter. That unofficial depth chart that came out a while ago is mostly crap and meaningless, but one real thing I take away from that and subsequent comments from Jay Gruden is that Niles Paul is legitimately our TE1. Jordan Reed tweaking the hammy again doesn't help things. The asterick next to Logan's name is to say that if that toe injury turns out to be serious and he needs surgery and is going to miss substantial time, I think he's out. If it's better than that, then I think he'll make it. Je'Ron Hamm has a golden opportunity and if Logan is banged up and he can really show out in the preseason games, I think he can get that TE3 spot. Niles will also really need to prove he's a good blocker. An interesting situation in flux.
Offensive Line (9):
Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Arie Kouandjio, Willie Smith, Tom Compton
There are some changes here. The first, most important, and most obvious one is that Scherff is the starting RG and Moses is the starting RT. The other is, I have replaced Josh LeRibeus with Willie Smith. There are a number of reasons. LeRib has never been a good G and certainly wouldn't play there over Long or Kouandjio if Scherff or Lauvao went down. So he was strictly on as the backup C before. Well plenty of teams don't keep a backup C because you can realistically go through a portion of one game with one of your Gs operating there and then bring someone up from your PS to be your C after that if Kory is out for an extended period of time. You know Reiter and/or Larsen are going to end up on the PS. LeRib isn't some great C who's obviously ahead of those guys. I mean, everyone saw Wilfork embarass him. It's over for LeRib.
But this is just as much about Willie Smith as it is about LeRib. Willie Smith has had a very good camp, offers great size and experience, and has been inserted as the first backup OT (expecially LT) when TW is out... over Compton. I think they like him. Compton stays because he's just a better football player than LeRib, has starting experience on this team at OT, and offers OT/G versatility. Plus, you never know if Trent's or Morgan's injuries will pop back up, so you need a couple OTs.
Defensive Line (7):
Jason Hatcher, Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean-Francois, Chris Baker, Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse
No change here.
Outside Linebackers (4):
Ryan Kerrigan, Junior Galette, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith
The Galette signing is going to be a big deal. He's really good. He's also made Trevardo Williams/Jackson Jeffcoat expendable. Sure, they could start Trent over Galette. The point is, these are the four guys who are making it and all of them (especially the first three) are going to play. I really can't see them taking five.
Inside Linebackers (5):
Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Martrell Spaight
No change here.
Chris Culliver, DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Justin Rogers
This looks a bit different. There are a variety of reasons. First, Breeland is suspended for week one now and also hurt and won't be back before week two at the earliest. While suspended, Breeland doesn't count towards the 53. Obviously, once the suspension is over, he'll be brought back and be one of our top three CBs. I think the minimum amount of CBs that a team can have realistically is four and that only works if you have a S or two who can really step in and play CB in a pinch. We'll have that. Rogers gets the fourth spot due to everything coaches have said during camp, his veteran experience, and his STs ability. When in doubt, reserves must be good STs players and he is. I wouldn't be totally shocked if they like Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith enough to keep him as a reserve CB, but I'm leaning against it. Breeland's return could knock off Rogers.
Dashon Goldson, Duke Ihenacho, Jeron Johnson, Kyshoen Jarrett, Trenton Robinson
With the way Duke has consistently been playing with the 1s and with Jeron's injury setback, I really believe Duke will be the starting SS. Jeron is probably the first backup at both S positions. Trenton makes it as a pure backup FS who is a dynamo on STs and I've added Jarrett. He's been having a stellar camp, was hand-picked by this GM, has the versatility to play either S position, and has been working as a reserve slot CB and can play there a little bit. He's the guy that allows us to go with four CBs because it's really like 4.5 CBs and 4.5 safeties. Breeland's return could knock off Jarrett or T-Rob.
Kai Forbath, Tress Way, Nick Sundberg
No change. I fully expect Kai to be great in the preseason games.
Last Five On:
Willie Smith - Obviously LeRib could make it over him. They could elect to keep only eight OL. Maybe Takoby Cofield shows out? His spot is in no way secure, but as of right now, I'd keep him and also think they would.
Tom Compton - Ditto
Justin Rogers - Who knows in this secondary? I like Cromartie-Smith at CB and think they do, too. Maybe they'd opt to keep him? Maybe they'll make Jarrett strictly a CB and won't need Rogers?
Kyshoen Jarrett - Who knows in this secondary? Obviously they could go with one less S or perhaps Akeem Davis sticks?
Trenton Robinson - Who knows in this secondary? Ditto.
Last Seven Cuts:
Silas Redd - All it takes is one Chris Thompson injury. I'll be interested if he plays better/more than Trey Williams in the preseason games. I think he will.
Je'Ron Hamm - Just reread what I wrote about the TEs. I like him. I think he could have a really good preseason and make it.
Josh LeRibeus - Reread what I wrote about the OL. He'll definitely need to improve his C play and demonstrate that he's definitely better than Reiter. I'm not convinced he is.
Jackson Jeffcoat - He's been a stud all camp long. It's just a shame for him that we're stacked at the position. He'll need to jump off the screen on STs.
Trevardo Williams - Injuries have hurt his chances.
Terrance Plummer - Could he make it as a reserve ILB? Another dude who needs to jump off the screen during the preseason.
Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith - I think the switch from S to CB has been good for him and his chances. I expect him to play very well there. He's competing with Rogers, Jarrett, and Robinson at the back-end of the secondary. He could definitely make it as he's a pretty good STs player and is helped by his positional versatility.