Quarterbacks (2): Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy
There’s basically no way the Washington Redskins can keep RGIII on the roster, right? The fact is that Jay Gruden has declared this “Kirk’s team”, but it’s hard for it to be “Kirk’s team” when you have RGIII on the bench, especially in the event Cousins struggles.
The Redskins would do well to move RGIII for whatever value they can get, or to eat the loss and cut him, and roll with Cousins and McCoy as their guys. It opens up a roster space, it (hopefully) cuts down on potential drama, and let’s Gruden focus on trying to improve these two QBs without the strain of having to, ya know, actually do his job and come up with an offense that suits all players and not just a couple.
Offensive Line (9): Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichensteiger, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Josh LeRibeus, Spencer Long, Arie Koundijo, Tom Compton
How I yearn for the day when I never have to predict Shawn Lauvao being on the 53-man roster…
At any rate, the starting five has been set for most of training camp. Scherff and Moses form a young right side of the line, but should grow together with time. LeRib has looked solid if unspectacular at back-up center and can play boy guard spots in a pinch, Arie’s raw but has flashed. Long makes it onto the roster as he’s developing, those he’s looked uneven. Compton makes it to round out the back-up tackle situation, though that bares watching as the season wears on.
Tight Ends(3): Jordan Reed, Derek Carrier, Je’Ron Hamm
This list seems kind of like a gimme. Reed can be productive when he’s healthy; the problem is actually KEEPING him healthy. Derek Carrier was traded for and presents some upside, and in my brief glimpses is a solid blocker. Hamm makes it because he kind of has to at this point.
Running Backs(5): Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Darrel Young
First: There’s basically no way Alfred Morris gets traded. In spite of maybe not being the most physical talented back, he’s still the most experienced and most productive. On top of that, it’s even less likely that anyone wants to trade for a running back with 876 carries on his legs who’s also not known to be scheme diverse, who’s production has gone down each of the last three years, who’s also on the last year of his deal.
Jones provides a powerful thumper who has a little (okay, a lot) more wiggle than Morris does between the tackles. Thompson has shown out, averaging 5 yards a carry through preseason, while also being a surprisingly good pass blocker. Darrel Young is the NFL’s least appreciated fullback. (Feed. Young. More.) Trey Williams is the odd man out, this year’s Lache Seastrunk, only actually better and not kind of a jerk.
Wide Receivers(6): DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Jamieson Crowder, Rashad Ross, Ryan Grant
Here’s the part where you wished you could move on from some of these free agents and put the young guys in. Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts count big against the cap, and if you cut RGIII, you effectively can’t cut either of them. Crowder and Grant easily get spots, but Rashad Ross has reached up and grabbed the brass ring with his play. He might not get tons of touches, but he’s earned his way onto the roster moreso than his most immediate competition Evan Spencer, who may be a solid special teamer, but hasn’t made enough plays there or in the passing game to justify a roster spot just yet.
Defensive Line(6); Stephen Paea, Jason Hatcher, Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean-Francois, Frank Kearse
One wonders if the fascination with keeping Kedric Golston around despite him not being productive will continue this season, but it shouldn’t. There’s clearly more talented players ahead of him, in what is a deep, deep defensive line rotation. Scot McCloughan set out to revamp the d-line and he did; all his free agents acquisitions are obviously going to make it, as will Big Swaggy Chris Baker and Frank Kearse, who provide more than adequate relief for all of them.
Outside Linebackers(5): Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Trent Murphy, Jackson Jeffcoat, Houston Bates
A lot of debate has been over whether Murphy or Smith should start, but for now, I’d relegate Smith to a third down pass rusher role and let Murphy handle the run game and edge setting duties. Jackson Jeffcoat and Houston Bates both made plays this preseason, providing solid depth, and Bates can have a really good role on special teams.
Inside Linebackers(5): Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Terrance Plummer, Martrell Spraight
The top three linebackers here shouldn’t shock anyone; Robinson is the future of the defense and Riley has looked solid, with defensive coordinator Joe Barry speaking highly of him. Will Compton was a solid back-up last season and plays teams. Plummer has been a better all-around player than Martrell Spraight, who’s still raw and needs time to be developed.
Cornerbacks(4): DeAngelo Hall, Chris Culliver, Bashuad Breeland, David Amerson
Going thin at corner for the second year in a row is a tricky proposition, but it also seems kind of unavoidable given the rest of the roster layout. D-Hall and Culliver are pencilled in as starters with Breeland and Amerson as back-ups. Maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention to the corner play, but the only corner that regularly stood out to me was Quinton Dunbar, who is nowhere near ready to be called upon in game action.
Safeties(5): Duke Inenacho, Dashon Goldson, Kyshoen Jarrett, Jeron Johnson, Trenton Robinson
Duke, Goldson and Johnson are freebies, even though Johnson didn’t make a preseason impression either way. Trenton Robinson has been a dependable back-up for a couple years now, and Kyshoen Jarrett has certainly flashed enough to justify his role as well.
Specialist(3): Nick Sundberg, Tress Way, Kai Forbath
Nick Sundberg is the toughest, “THE” Tress Way is the best, and Kobra Kai just makes kicks.