Having just pared their roster down to 53 men, the Washington Commanders are very likely to keep working over the course of the next several days to refine their roster before the first game of the NFL regular season, which is barely a week away.
Ron Rivera on the Commanders' initial 53-man roster: "We're not done yet."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 30, 2022
While Washington’s starting line-ups appear fairly solid, the back end of the roster and immediate depth at several positions could absolutely use some upgrades.
The offensive side of the ball is essentially set, and may actually be a bit overloaded, with a mildly ludicrous 5 tight ends currently on the roster. Curtis Hodges as TE5 is surely someone the team would like to get on the practice squad, but not so precious that he’d be protected if superior defensive talent came along.
Meanwhile, Washington’s defensive depth, within two units, in particular, is terrifying. The defensive line is stout, and should be significantly upgraded when Chase Young returns from injury. The safety group is one of my favorite back end units for Washington in a long time. Jeremy Reaves seems to finally have developed into a pro-level talent, and rookie Percy Butler is an exciting young stud, added to starters Kam Curl and Bobby McCain, and potential Buffalo nickel, Darrick Forrest.
The linebacking and cornerback groups, however, are a different story.
After Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis the Commanders LB room is a nightmare fit for Elm Street. David Mayo? Milo Eifler? De’Jon “Scoota” Harris? If Holcomb or Davis go down and any of those guys are forced into major action, be sure to start every tight end who faces off against Washington in your fantasy league.
What upgrades are out there, cut loose in Tuesday’s pare downs?
Football Scout 365 Wk5 CFB Defensive player of The Week: Chaz Surratt recorded 7 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL’s and 2 QB hurries last Saturday in a near upset of the top ranked Clemson Tigers.— Football Scout 365 (@FS365_Draft) October 2, 2019
-#collegefootball #CFB #Butkus #TarHeelNation pic.twitter.com/wPtOtPAnQx
The former QB turned LB was drafted by the Vikings in the 3rd round of the 2021 and just waived. Indications are that he was not a good fit for the Vikings 3-4 defense, but could be more comfortable as an OLB in a 4-3 front. He would likely project as a WILL with Washington, with the ability to assist on special teams.
From Surratt’s draft profile:
“He’s barely played linebacker, so a lot of these mistakes he makes are going to disappear once he gets more snaps. It takes time, but he’s smart and competes his ass off, so he’ll get it.” — Personnel executive for AFC team
Jarrad Davis (as the Mike in a 4-3 over) jumps the TE's out route, forcing Kirk Cousins to hold the ball and take a sack pic.twitter.com/0Q8nG6mEId— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) March 15, 2021
Jarrad Davis was selected by the Lions in the first round of the 2017 draft. Currently 27, Davis had three solid seasons to begin his NFL career but has struggled over the course of the past two seasons, the most recent with the Jets. An injured ankle kept him out of 6 games last year.
Compared to Carolina’s Shaq Thompson in some draft profiles, Davis would project as an outside LB in Washington’s 4-3.
Cam McGrone is a solid player. Very much in the Devin Bush mold of super fast linebacker who can play sideline to sideline and get shot out of a cannon on blitzes. Has to get way more consistent to cut it in the NFL but at his best, a really fun guy to watch https://t.co/UNtlFDB5H3— College Football Tweetin Szn (@WheelzOfSteele) May 2, 2021
I really liked McGrone in the lead up to the 2021 draft, but he was drafted by the Patriots in the 5th round and ended up spending his entire first season with New England injured, having torn his ACL in the November before the draft (which likely explained his draft fall).
Cameron McGrone’s athleticism is elite. After he missed virtually all of his rookie season recovering from a torn ACL, we finally got to see the athletic second-year linebacker on the field. One thing that stood out: the athleticism.
McGrone almost had a few interceptions, simply because of his athletic abilities and hustle to the ball. It wasn’t perfect, but there is definitely promise there. He has a long way to go to leapfrog the guys ahead of him on the depth chart, but the Patriots haven’t seen a guy as athletic as him and fellow linebacker Mack Wilson in a very long time.
McGrone is still only 22, and if Washington has the patience to pursue, and stick with him, he has the potential to develop into an NFL MIKE.
As in the case of the linebackers, once you get beyond the starting three Washington cornerbacks: Kendall Fuller, William Jackson III, and Ben St-Juste, the pickings get very thin. Rookie Christian Holmes is the only other CB on the roster (aside from someone like Bobby McCain, who has some positional flex). This team has to add a cornerback or two.
Haley was picked up as an UDFA by the Giants after the 2018 draft, bounced to the Saints, and then won a Super Bowl with the Rams last year. This offseason, Haley was right on the margin on making the Rams final roster:
First Four Out: Grant Haley, CB
It’s a tough break for the solid Nittany Lion cornerback. Unless an injury occurs to one of the depth players in the last preseason game, Haley will be waived (not because of talent) because of a crowded room.
Why did the 49ers let go of Darqueze Dennard despite him getting most of the 1st-team nickel reps in camp? https://t.co/5tahalByBu— Niners Wire (@TheNinersWire) August 19, 2022
The 30 year old Dennard was originally taken by the Bengals in the first round of the 2014 draft. Dennard was cut in the middle of August by the 49ers, the apparent victim of up-and-coming young talent on their roster. Even so, Kyle Shanahan had good things to say about the vet CB:
“… [Dennard] was a good player for us this offseason,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “And we’ll see how these guys do and if it doesn’t work out, hopefully someday [he] can come back.”
In the absence of Washington’s own, young CB talent, Dennard could be potential bridge CB depth through the 2022 season.
Raiders releasing veteran CB Darius Phillips https://t.co/uMKaGnE5kl— MrSilver N Black (@MrSnB213) August 30, 2022
Phillips was originally a Bengals’ 5th round pick, and had initially been viewed by the Raiders as solid depth for the cornerback group. He was ultimately pushed out by younger talent this offseason, despite possessing the ability to play special teams and potentially return kicks.
This is only a small sample of the players available after league cut downs, but should provide you a sense of some of the talent out there.
Which of these players would you most like to see Washington pursue?
This poll is closed
None of the above
Someone else (identify in the comments)