Thoughts on the Redskins’ initial 53-man roster


Since greeting Lovie Smith and the end of Thursday’s game, Redskins coach Jay Gruden has led his staff through some difficult decision making. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

In case you missed it, the Washington Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on Saturday, making 14 moves to reach the league limit by the 4 p.m. deadline. Those 14 moves came after Washington got a jump on things with eight cuts issued on Friday.

You can read about how they got down to the 53 here, and which of the young bubble players emerged victorious in their quest for an NFL roster spot.

But let’s go position-by-position through the roster one final time, looking back at my final projection and how things actually played out. And, I’ll weigh in on some of the moves:

Quarterback – 3: Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

(Projection: Griffin, Cousins, McCoy)

It became clear rather early in camp that Redskins coaches signed Colt McCoy because they like him as a player, and not just so he could serve as a camp arm. So this wasn’t a surprise at all. However, you can make the argument that because of the risk of a young potential difference-making back like Lache Seastrunk or Chris Thompson not making it through waivers, perhaps Washington should have gone two QBs, four RBs and a fullback. But, because of Griffin’s injury history and the hits we saw him take in the preseason, it’s probably smart to keep McCoy in case Cousins winds up having to start with Griffin hurt, which would prompt the need for a backup with knowledge of the system.

Running back – 4: Alfred Morris, Roy Helu Jr., Silas Redd, fullback Darrell Young

(Projection: Morris, Helu, Redd, Seastrunk, Young)

These really were the best three running backs throughout the offseason, training camp and preseason. Morris is the workhorse, Helu the only proven guy in the area of pass-protection. Helu also is a good receiver. Redd displayed good versatility, and he just might even be a more well-rounded runner than Helu if Washington found itself in a situation where Morris was hurt and they needed an interim starter. Redd needs to focus on improving on special teams, however. He was nervous after Thursday’s game because of a couple of special teams errors he made. He feared that could hurt his chances of making the team. That wasn’t the case, but he said if he got the chance to stick around, his top goal would be improving in this area. Another thing that hurt Seastrunk was the fact that he didn’t play special teams. And Chris Thompson’s lack of durability cost him a spot. D.Y. was a lock. Great blocker, great special teams player, really underrated receiver.

Wide receiver – 6: Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Ryan Grant

(Projection: Garcon, Jackson, Roberts, Moss, Robinson, Grant)

This was pretty clear early on. Ryan Grant probably had the most impressive preseason of any of the receivers, but Robinson grew up a lot this camp as well. He spent a lot of time this offseason working on improving his route running. We saw the payoff. Moss continued to make plays despite getting long in the tooth. Coaches have great confidence in him, however. If one of the starters got hurt, he probably would get the nod because of his experience and ability to play at any position.

Tight end – 3: Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul

(Projection: Reed, Paulsen, Paul)

Another cut-and-dry position. Seventh-round pick Tedd Bolser never really had a chance this year, but could develop into a player after some time on the practice squad.

Offensive line – 9: T Trent Williams, G Shawn Lauvao, C Kory Lichtensteiger, G Chris Chester, T Tyler Polumbus, T Morgan Moses, G Spencer Long, G Josh LeRibeus, T Tom Compton

(Projection: Williams, Lauvao, Lichtensteiger, Chester, Polumbus, Moses, Long, LeRibeus)

This is one I went back and forth on because of needs or anticipated wants at other positions. Hearing there might be a desire to keep four backs, I left Compton off of Friday’s projection. They are better off with Compton in the mix. He didn’t have a great preseason, but he is slightly more seasoned than Moses. But I don’t know if anyone should feel great about them stepping into the lineup in the event of an injury. But have a long way to go. Both need to work hard this year because they could contend for the starting right tackle job next year if Polumbus isn’t re-signed. LeRibeus did enough to earn a spot. But it looks like Long is a little better. Chester’s ability to fill in at center gave Washington freedom to part with Mike McGlynn last week and keep their prospects.

Defensive line – 7: DE Chris Baker, NT Barry Cofield, DE Jason Hatcher, DE Jarvis Jenkins, DE/NT Kedric Golston, DE Clifton Geathers, DE Frank Kearse

(Projection: Baker, Cofield, Hatcher, Jenkins, Golston, Geathers)

Chris Neild’s injury opened the door for Geathers and apparently for Kearse as well. It’ll be interesting to see if one of those two get cut when Brandon Meriweather comes back from his two-game suspension. Washington has a good, versatile rotation of Baker, Cofield, Hatcher and Jenkins. Golston also has the ability to play end or nose tackle. Baker hasn’t done it in a while, but he started out with this team at the nose. Hatcher lined up at nose tackle some against Baltimore. And considering that Neild rarely dressed for games last season, Jim Haslett should be able to get by without a true backup nose tackle.

Linebacker – 9: OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Keenan Robinson, ILB Perry Riley Jr., OLB Brian Orakpo, OLB Trent Murphy, ILB Adam Hayward, ILB Will Compton, ILB Akeem Jordan, OLB Gabe Miller

(Projection: Kerrigan, Robinson, Riley, Orakpo, Murphy, Hayward, Compton, Jordan, Everette Brown)

Gabe Miller’s strong night against Tampa helped him leap-frog Brown, who had knocked Rob Jackson out early last week. Darryl Sharpton to IR with a high-ankle sprain was a curious move. But given his having missed three preseason games, it was expected Jordan would beat him out. The main question was the severity of Jordan’s knee injury. Had he been healthy, Sharpton would’ve won the final ILB spot. Coaches loved his physical, violent style of play. You’ve got to be happy for Will Compton. Signed as an undrafted rookie out of Nebraska last season, he spent the year on the practice squad until late. But in the offseason, he got bigger and stronger. A year of practices and meetings under his belt significantly boosted his confidence. You can see it out there. He’s aggressive, and he’s versatile. Special teams play helped his case as well.

Cornerback – 5: DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, E.J. Biggers, Bashaud Breeland, Tracy Porter

(Projection: Hall, Amerson, Biggers, Breeland, Porter)

This position was pretty clear early as well. Coaches loved Breeland and you knew they were going to get him on the roster. Porter got off to a slow start because of injuries, but he finished off strong. Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford just couldn’t manage to make significant contributions. Breeland will play primarily on special teams but will eventually work his way into the rotation on nickel and dime packages.

Safety – 4: Ryan Clark, Bacarri Rambo, Trenton Robinson, Akeem Davis

(Projection: Clark, Rambo, Thomas, Robinson, Davis)

I didn’t expect the team to give up on Phillip Thomas this soon, but he definitely hadn’t really shown much of anything because he continued to get hurt. It will likely be easier to get him through waivers than a healthy guy that shined on Thursday like Davis. Rambo proved himself in the preseason, but now the key is continuing to improve, and to remain consistent. Meriweather will return on Sept. 16.

Specialists – 3: PK Kai Forbath, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

(Projection: Forbath, Robert Malone, Sundberg)

Malone didn’t punt well on Thursday, but Way was erratic in Chicago, sending four punts out of bounds there. But he did prove he has the stronger leg. Forbath remained cool under pressure and locked up this job. Hocker did well, but missing the field goal from 39 yards out definitely hurt his case.

Other thoughts:
● Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden & Co. definitely displayed a belief in keeping the best players rather than favoring draft picks over undrafted or free agent players  just because they wanted to make their draft look good. (We’ve seen that prideful mistake here in the past). They cut three of this year’s draft picks (Bolser, Seastrunk and Hocker), and cut two picks from 2013 (Thompson and Thomas), one from 2012 earlier this week (Adam Gettis) and one from 2011 (Royster).

● Will be interesting to see if Royster and/or Chris Thompson winds up in Cleveland with Kyle Shanahan.

● The team can begin signing practice squad players once they clear waivers at noon. You would think Thomas and Thompson would make it through because of their injury histories. Bolser didn’t seem to do enough to stand out to other teams. Seastrunk, Tevita Stevens and or Kevin Kowalski seem like practice squad candidates as well, as does Minnifield. That’s seven possible practice squad targets. Nick Williams is another, and would make eight.

● The overall depth of this team seems to be better. There are young players at a number of positions.

● Curious as to whether or not Tress Way is the team’s real answer at punter. The team could opt to pick up someone that got cut and have him in for a workout.

● Questions remain at safety both long- and short-term. When Meriweather returns, you can’t help but wonder how long he can go before he has another illegal hit. Can Rambo continue to make strides and blossom into Clark’s eventual replacement? Depending on Davis’ development, Washington could have to find a strong safety either in next year’s free agency or the draft.

Follow Mike Jones and Liz Clarke on Twitter for up-to-the minute news. For all Insider posts involving roster moves, click here. The roster itself is here. For the league-wide transaction wire, click here.

More from The Post:

Redskins finalize 53-man roster | Story

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Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Mike Jones · August 30

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