The final count heading into the regular season: 23 offensive players, 27 defensive players, 3 on special teams, and 9 of 10 2017 draft picks made the team. The roster heading into week one still isn’t set, as moves to sign free agents released from other teams will be made, but here’s what can be taken away from their first official roster.
Quarterbacks: As many expected, the Redskins decided to keep two quarterbacks on the final roster for the regular season. With Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy on the final roster, Nate Sudfeld was released by Washington. The 2016 sixth-round draft pick was on the final roster last year but was inactive all 16 games for Washington. This move to keep just two quarterbacks, which hasn’t been the case in a few years, allows the Redskins some flexibility in other places on the team. Sudfeld didn’t drastically improve from year one to two, making the move easier from a year ago, but I’m sure Sudfeld is a prime candidate for their practice squad.
Running Backs: Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Chris Thompson, and Mack Brown. Brown survives the cut, which may be a surprise to some. The pre-season all-star impressed the Redskins coaching staff on his ability to contribute to the team. Brown is not only a solid running back, he contributes to special teams. Brown is a solid running back, he proved such late in the 2016 season against the Chicago Bears, but like last year it may be hard to see the field offensively with Perine being drafted. Former 2015 third-round draft pick Matt Jones, was released on cut day as well.
Wide Receivers: Terrelle Pryor Sr., Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, and Brian Quick. This position group may have been the most surprising of cut day for Washington. The Redskins opted to take five receivers instead of six heading into the regular season. Many assumed Brian Quick was being released, in favor of rookie sixth-round pick Robert Davis, or maybe Matt Hazel. It’s likely the Redskins chose experience over youth, but the bottom line for this position, it is a drastic drop-off in talent compared to a year ago. Maurice Harris was the surprise cut for me, although being injured nearly all of training camp, he was solid in spots last year and earned himself quality playing time. Harris is eligible for practice squad, I’m sure the Redskins are hoping waivers clear for him and Davis.
Tight Ends: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, and Jeremy Sprinkle. This was expected by most, the first three, the decision to keep Jeremy Sprinkle on the roster likely came down to his size and potential to develop into a good in-line tight end. Which is what the Redskins have been struggling to find for some time now. The Redskins traded Derek Carrier prior to the cut deadline, sending the tight end to the Los Angeles Rams for a seventh-round draft pick. Carrier was with the Redskins for the last two seasons.
Offensive Line: Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe, Chase Roullier, and Tyler Catalina. With the decision to keep these eight players on the line, the Redskins decided to part ways with 2015 fourth-round draft pick Arie Kouandjio. With Kouandjio's lack of development, rookies Chase Roullier and Tyler Catalina made the move to part with Kouandjio easier. Roullier currently is in play to start week one with Spencer Long still recovering from knee surgery. Both he and Catalina provide solid versatility along the line, and if Roullier seems to be a better fit at center than Long, they may decide to kick Long to left guard upon return.
Defensive Line: Jonathan Allen, Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee, Matt Ioannidis, Ziggy Hood, and Anthony Lanier III. Ioannidis makes the final 53, unlike a year ago, where he started off on the practice squad. Ioannidis has gotten stronger, and it’s translated onto his play on the field as well. Ziggy Hood, 30, is the oldest of the group. Phil Taylor’s season-ending injury seriously altered the Redskins plans at defensive line. The nose tackle had an outstanding camp, and solid pre-season before going down. Joey Mbu and A.J. Francis were among his replacements, neither made the roster, which was surprising. Mbu’s development from last year to now was impressive, but inconsistencies in his play made the Redskins hesitant to keep him on the final 53. I expect one of the two to land on the practice squad.
Linebackers: Ryan Kerrigan, Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Preston Smith, Will Compton, Martrell Spaight, Chris Carter, Junior Galette, Ryan Anderson, and Josh Harvey-Clemons. The surprise of this group is the rookie, Josh Harvey-Clemons. The seventh-round draft pick has flashed throughout the preseason, following his pick-six at Tampa Bay, the bubble player’s preseason performance parlayed into a roster spot. The decision to keep him over an extra defensive lineman, or a sixth receiver, tells me they really valued Harvey-Clemons and was certain they may lose him if they waived him. Chris Carter has easily been the best pass-rusher for the Redskins to this point, and although it may be against back-ups, he was impressive enough in games and practice to force the Redskins. Notables that Washington parted ways with include Pete Robertson, Lynden Trail, and Nico Marley. I expect two of the three to be signed to the practice squad.
Cornerbacks: Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Fabian Moreau, Quinton Dunbar, and Joshua Hosley. Nothing unexpected from this group, rookie seventh-round draft pick Joshua Hosley has had a solid camp and preseason, the Redskins clearly love his potential, and can be a backup to second-year corner Kendall Fuller in the slot. Hosley’s impressive from the standpoint of his determination and mentality. The rookie has had multiple knee surgeries and was on the verge of quitting football at one point in college, now has made the final 53 as a rookie. Moreau was thoroughly impressive in his time on the field, many didn’t expect him to return to action so quickly, but showed why the Redskins like him.
Safeties: D.J. Swearinger, Su’a Cravens, Deshazor Everett, Montae Nicholson, and Stefan McClure. The biggest surprise to many, Stefan McClure. To be honest, McClure was not on my radar to make this team at all, but clearly the second year UDFA has impressed the staff enough to carry him onto the final 53. There is speculation that McClure may be a precaution due to the fact Cravens may not be ready by week 1. Rookie fourth round draft pick Montae Nicholson, like Fabian Moreau, was impressive. Nicholson was not expected to return to action as soon as he did, but he looked the part of a natural safety. His speed, awareness as the deep man, and instincts at the line of scrimmage were encouraging. Fish Smithson and Will Blackmon were the two safeties cut prior to the deadline.
The biggest question for me lies in the initial decision to not keep a nose tackle on their roster. Again, this roster may change very soon, but nose tackle is a concern. If the Redskins can keep Maurice Harris and Robert Davis via practice squad, keeping five receivers on the final 53 is not concerning for me. The position with or without those players was not going to drastically improve the position anyway. The youth infusion continues, with only five players thirty and over, and 31 players 26 years old and younger. Now it’s on the Redskins coaching staff to continue developing the young talent on their roster.
Where did they get it right? Where did they get it wrong? What move was most surprising? Comment and let us know your thoughts.