The roster has been set, and the Washington Football Team is down to 53 players along with 16 on their practice squad(1 spot is still open). Now we get to the question of who will be starting for the team, and what positions they will be playing in the new offense/defense.
Starting QB has been set with Dwayne Haskins Jr. being tapped by Head Coach Ron Rivera. The team kept 3 QBs this year, with the Alex Smith comeback story continuing to amaze people. He will start the year as the team’s #3 QB on the initial depth chart behind Kyle Allen, and will likely be inactive Week 1 vs the Philadelphia Eagles.
Terry McLaurin is Washington’s unquestioned number 1 receiver. Behind him will be recently signed free agent Dontrelle Inman, and 2nd year WR Steven Sims Jr. The WFT only kept two other WRs on their initial 53-man roster, and both of them are rookies. Antonio Gandy-Golden was taken in the 4th round this year, and has been a little dinged up during camp. He will start his NFL career as a backup, as he transitions from Liberty University. Isaiah Wright is the only UDFA to make this year’s team, and he has made an impression on special teams. Although Rivera said he wasn’t ready for primetime yet, he will be getting plenty of experience this year.
Ron Rivera noted that one of the reasons the team only kept 5 WRs, was the ability of their RBs to play from different spots in Scott Turner’s offense. J.D. McKissic and Antonio Gibson and listed #1 and #2 respectively on the depth chart, and both of them are WRs who have converted to RBs. Free agent signing Peyton Barber is listed as the #3 RB. Bryce Love is still coming all the way back from an ACL injury that happened on the last play of his college career. Reports from camp say he looks to be part of the plan to help down the road.
Washington only kept three TEs on their initial roster, and two of them are new faces this year. Logan Thomas is a former QB turned into a TE after he got to the NFL. He took command of the starting job during training camp, and quickly became a favorite target of Dwayne Haskins. Jeremy Sprinkle surprised some people by making the roster, and is still trying to prove something as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. Marcus Baugh came out of nowhere to claim the final TE spot in camp.
The offensive line has been a concern here for a while, and we’re going to find out what we have pretty quickly this year. Geron Christian Sr. won the starting LT job, but the competition was either injured, or just not starter quality. Rookie Saadhiq Charles will back him up, along with David Sharpe who the team recently traded for. Left Guard has been a battle of the Wes’s and Wes Martin will start the season getting the nod. Wes Shweitzer got injured in camp, but returned to compete a little late in the game. Chase Roullier keeps his spot at tackle, but Keith Ismael had a very strong camp, and showed his versatility at the interior spots. Brandon Scherff got the franchise tag, and the kept the right guard job. Morgan Moses is also locked in right tackle with only free agent signing Cornelius Lucas there to try to push him.
Dwayne Haskins Jr. Kyle Allen Alex Smith
Terry McLaurin Antonio Gandy-Golden
Steven Sims Jr. Isaiah Wright
Logan Thomas Jeremy Sprinkle Marcus Baugh
J.D. McKissic Antonio Gibson Peyton Barber Bryce Love
LT: Geron Christian Sr. Saahdiq Charles David Sharpe
LG: Wes Martin Wes Schweitzer
C: Chase Roullier Keith Ismael
RG: Brandon Scherff Wes Schweitzer
RT: Morgan Moses Cornelius Lucas
The defensive line is expected to be the strongest unit of the team, and it is loaded with 1st round talent. This year’s #2 overall pick Chase Young, and Washington’s 2nd round pick last year Montez Sweat are listed as the team’s starting DEs. They have some decent depth behind them with Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan Anderson, and versatile rookie James Smith-Williams. The remaining four are all returning from last year, and all four of them should be giving offensive coordinators and QBs fits when preparing to face them. The Alabama Wall of Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen are listed as the starters with Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis behind them. Expect to see a lot of all four of them this season, and the team rotates them frequently.
Washington’s coaching staff includes some pretty decent LBs from their time playing in the league. Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio know what to look for in LBs in the NFL, and have hopefully found enough talent to work with here. Sean Dion Hamilton and Kevin Pierre-Louis and listed as the starters at OLB, and Jon Bostic gets the top spot at MLB. Thomas Davis is basically a coach on the field, and will be crucial to implementing Rivera’s style/system, but he is listed as a backup here behind promising 3rd-year player Dion Hamilton. Cole Holcomb gets the backup spot at MLB as he continues to improve in the NFL. Rookie Khaleke Hudson is listed as Pierre-Louis’s backup here, and will see extensive work on special teams as well.
Cornerback has gone through some pretty big changes from last season. Free agent signings Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby are listed as the starters. Fuller has missed almost two weeks with an undisclosed injury in training camp, and will hopefully be available Week 1. If he can’t go Fabian Moreau is likely the first one up to step in as a starter. Jimmy Moreland can also play on the outside, but will see time in the slot as well. Greg Stroman and Danny Johnson made the team again, beating out an assortment of different players to try to earn a long-term spot on the team.
The safety spot was expected to look a lot different earlier in the year when Washington made one of their bigger signings this year bringing Sean Davis home. He said all the right things, and was enthusiastic to be here. Unfortunately for him his play didn’t match his words, and he had one of the quietest camp of the year, barely being mentioned by reporters or coaches. This also coincided with the emergence of 3rd-year safety Troy Apke who had to be reigned back in a few times for being overly aggressive in camp. He showed enough improvement to make Davis expendable, and to also earn the starting free safety spot. Landon Collins didn’t have as much competition, and has the strong safety spot locked down. Special teams captain Deshazor Everett continues to maintain his backup role in the secondary. Rookie Kamren Curl had a hype-worthy training camp and got my vote for the Mason-Brennan Preseason Hype! Award based on coaches praise alone.
DE: Chase Young Ryan Kerrigan
DT: Daron Payne Tim Settle
DT: Jonathan Allen Matt Ioannidis
DE: Montez Sweat Ryan Anderson James Smith-Williams
OLB: Sean Dion Hamilton Thomas Davis Sr.
MLB: Jon Bostic Cole Holcomb
OLB: Kevin Pierre-Louis Khaleke Hudson
Kendall Fuller Jimmy Moreland Danny Johnson
Ronald Darby Fabian Moreau Greg Stroman
SS: Landon Collins Deshazor Everett
Troy Apke Kamren Curl
The three big roles in special teams have been locked up for a few years now. The team didn’t even bring in any competition for Dustin Hopkins at kicker, Tress Way at punter, or Nick Sundberg at long snapper. The real intrigue comes at the returner roles. Steven Sims Jr. has improved enough at returning this year to make Trey Quinn expendable. He is listed as the starter at both kick and punt returner. Washington listed two other options at kick returner(Antonio Gibson and Danny Johnson), and one other option at punt returner(Isaiah Wright). Expect Sims to see a lot of action, but don’t be surprised if Wright gets some opportunities later in the year.
KR: Steven Sims Jr. Antonio Gibson Danny Johnson
PR: Steven Sims Jr. Isaiah Wright