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Three players you’ll be surprised make the WFT roster

NFL: Washington Football Team Training Camp Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

We’re well into training camp at this point, with the first pre-season game of 2021 only two nights away. There haven’t been any roster cut downs yet, but we’re beginning to get close, and, it seems like, for the first time in a very long time, Washington has some serious depth on both offense and defense.

Based on what we’re hearing from camp, I thought I’d take a look at the current 90-man roster and try to project three players who will make the final 53-man roster, much to the surprise of many in the fan base. It’s harder than you’d think, but I’d love to see speculation in the comments below.

Deandre Carter

The journeyman wide receiver who entered the league in 2015 as an undrafted free agent is now on his 8th team in his career. He was signed by Washington in April, after having played for the Bears last season, as a return specialist. It’s no secret that Washington had serious issues in its punt return game last year, and they were looking for an upgrade.

Over the course of his career, Carter has averaged 9.3 yards per punt return and 21.8 yards per kick return. As points of comparison, those numbers would have put him at 8th in the league and 12th in the league, respectively, last season. Steven Sims averaged 6.7 yards per punt return and Danny Johnson averaged 22 yards per kick return for the WFT last year.

The news from camp suggests that Carter’s not only getting looks in the return game though. He’s also getting reps in the slot, which is probably bad news for Steven Sims. Back of roster players need to bring versatility to the table, and Carter appears to have that in spades, which should bode well for his chances of making the 2021 WFT.

Antonio Gandy-Golden

Hobbled by injury last year after having been taken in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, Gandy-Golden spent much of the off-season rehabbing his hamstring,

“It’s actually stronger than before. We did some tests ... and my baseline was higher this year than when I first got here.”

Washington’s wide receiver room is tight however, with a significant ramp up in talent from both the draft and free agency. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, and - increasingly - Adam Humphries - look like locks to make the roster. If we add Deandre Carter into that mix, there’s essentially one, or maybe, two WR spots left, and guys like Cam Sims, Kelvin Harmon, and Steven Sims, all scrambling for spots.

Gandy-Golden isn’t the fastest of the bubble WRs, but he’s one of the tallest, and may have the best hands. The first couple pre-season games are going to be critical for all the back-end WRs on the team, but they might be most important for the Gandyman.

Troy Apke

It seems like almost since Deion Sanders declared that Apke could “run, run” at the 2018 NFL Combine and he was taken in the 4th round of the draft a few weeks later, he’s been the object of serious skepticism. He’s fast as hell, but he’s had trouble taking proper angles and tackling as long as he’s been in the league. That having been said, it’s clear the team values his special teams contributions.

This off-season, endowed with a wealth of talent at safety, the coaching staff decided to try Apke at cornerback. The experiment has had its ups and downs, but Apke appears to be taking to the transition surprisingly well. If I had written this a week ago, I doubt I would have included Apke, but based on recent accounts, his retention may end up surprising a lot of people.

I think his innate assets are simply too much to just let walk out the door. After all, as most coaches know (and the science affirms), “you can’t teach speed.”

Poll

Which of these long shot players do you think is most likely to make the 53-man roster?

  • 44%
    Deandre Carter
    (786 votes)
  • 34%
    Antonio Gandy-Golden
    (600 votes)
  • 12%
    Troy Apke
    (224 votes)
  • 8%
    Someone else
    (149 votes)
1759 votes total Vote Now