The Redskins have the league maximum 90 players on their roster and a lot of what goes on between now and the start of the season will be about finding out who will be on the final 53-man roster. Mike Shanahan loves competition. But how much competition is there? How many of those coveted 53 jobs are already locked up and how many are up for grabs? As OTA’s start this week let’s take a look with the caveat that injuries and a truly surprising performance could change the picture for a few players.
Right now, it looks like 41 players are locks to make the final roster:
QB (3): Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman
RB (2): Alfred Morris, Darrel Young
WR (5): Pierre Garçon, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson
TE (4): Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul, Jordan Reed
OL (6): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Josh LeRibeus, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus
This is mostly cut and dried. Some might say that Paul is not a lock given his struggles at tight end last year but his special teams ability should guarantee him a job. Some Redskins fans would like to see Grossman gone but the simple fact is that Griffin’s knee will be an issue to some extent all season will make Mike Shanahan want to have an experienced insurance policy.
The Redskins are like to keep 25 or 26 offensive players so there are five or six jobs up for grabs on that side of the ball.
DL (4): Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker
LB (7): London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Keenan Robinson, Rob Jackson, Brandon Jenkins
DB (7): Josh Wilson, DeAngelo Hall, Brandon Meriweather, E. J. Biggers, David Amerson, Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas
The first thing to note here is that Jackson will not be on the initial 53 since he will be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s PED policy. So that leaves a 54th spot for all intents and purposes. Carriker should be healthy for the regular season but reports of a setback in his rehab place a bit of doubt about his status.
There are likely to be 24 or 25 defensive players on the roster so that leaves six or seven spots open.
The three specialists on the roster, kicker Kai Forbath, punter Sav Rocca, and long snapper Nick Sundberg, are all locks.
That makes a total of 41 locks so 12 jobs are up for grabs, 13 if you count the four-game opening that will be created by Jackson’s suspension.
Who is in contention for those 12 spots? I count 30 players competing for them:
Offense (13): OL’s Tom Compton, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt, Xavier Nixon, Tony Pashos, Jeremy Trueblood; WR’s Dez Briscoe, Lance Lewis; RB’s Evan Royster, Chris Thompson, Keiland Williams, Jawan Jamison, Roy Helu Jr.
Defense (17): DL’s Chris Baker, Ron Brace, Kedric Golston, Phillip Merling, Chris Neild, Doug Worthington; LB’s Marvin Burdette, Bryan Kehl, Roccrick Muckelroy, Vic So’oto, Daryl Tapp; DB’s Jordan Bernstine, Richard Crawford, Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes, Jordan Pugh, Chase Minnifield
It should be noted that all bubble players are not equal. Players like Doughty and Baker are close to being locks and only something like poor performances in camp or some other unexpected development would keep them off the roster. Others like Nixon, Lewis, and Burdette will need to have a lot go right including a flawless performance in OTA’s and training camp and perhaps seeing some others at their position faltering.
With 41 locks and 30 bubble players, that leaves 19 who will have work to do and may need a couple of breaks to get into serious contention for a roster spot. But they are in an NFL camp and while their chances of making it are slim, they are better off than those of thousands of others who are on the outside looking in. I would not rule out any of these players making it; in fact, chances are that one or two of them will make it. But, right now, the odds are long.