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Bubble watch: Projecting the Redskins' 53-man roster

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Bubble watch: Projecting the Redskins' 53-man roster

The Redskins roll into Richmond on Wednesday and get to work on the field on Thursday. Over the course of a few dozen practices and four preseason games, head coach Jay Gruden and GM Scot McCloughan will trim the roster down to the final 53. Here are my projections of who will end up on the roster when the dust settles on September 5 plus a look at who is just hanging on and four who are just on the wrong side of the bubble.

Offense

Quarterback (3): Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

Offensive line (9): Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Tom Compton, Morgan Moses, Arie Kouandjio, Josh LeRibeus

Wide receiver (6): Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder, Evan Spencer.

Tight end (3): Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul

Running back (4): Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson

Defense

Defensive line (7): Jason Hatcher, Terrance Knighton, Stephan Paea, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse

Outside linebacker (4): Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Trevardo Williams

Inside linebacker (5): Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Martrell Spaight, Adam Hayward

Cornerback (5): Chris Culliver, Bashaud Breeland, DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tevin Mitchel

Safety (4): Dashon Goldson, Jeron Johnson, Duke Ihenacho, Kyshoen Jarrett

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

The numbers: 25 offense, 25 defense, 3 specialists; 15 new to the Redskins organization in 2015 including nine draft picks

Last 4 on

OLB Trevardo Williams—He made a few plays in his stint with the team late last season. But the organization might get nervous about an OLB group that consists of Ryan Kerrigan and three lightly experienced players. If Williams gives them any reason to doubt him, Williams could be replaced by an experienced waiver wire pickup.

RB Chris Thompson—The first thing that Thompson needs to do to stay on the right side of the bubble is stay on the field. Injuries have sidetracked him during the first two years of his NFL career and even a few missed training camp practices might have Gruden and McCloughan wondering about his ability to stand up to 16 games of pounding during the season.

DL Kedric Golston—The longest tenured Redskin will do what he has to do to keep himself on the roster. But outside factors may come into play. If there is an injury situation on either side of the ball or if there is a promising prospect that the organization believes it must keep, the decision may be made to keep six defensive linemen instead of seven. That could endanger the survival of the 32-year-old Golston.

QB Colt McCoy—Just like Golston, a numbers crunch could make the Redskins contemplate going short at McCoy’s position group. It is important to remember that McCloughan has the final say on the composition of the 53 and he might not be as impressed with McCoy as Gruden seems to be.

Four more close to the bubble: OLB Trevardo Williams, OL LeRibeus, CB Mitchel, CB Hall

Last 4 cuts

OT Willie Smith—If Trent Williams looks like he could be limping through another season, the team might want to have Smith, who has played in 30 NFL games, around to play left tackle if Williams can’t go.

RB Silas Redd—If Thompson doesn’t shake his injury bug, Redd is likely to be in. Even of Thompson does stay healthy, Redd could win the job anyway. Right now Thompson has the edge because of his speed but Redd will not give up easily.

S Akeem Davis—If Ben Kotwica is allowed to have a say in some special teams roster spots, Davis could squeak on. Davis had a lot to learn as a safety so it would be difficult to rely on him as a reserve there.

RB Trey Williams—He could be the “must-keep” prospect that bumps off someone like Golston or McCoy. The undrafted free agent has speed to burn but we will need to see if he has what it takes to survive in the NFL at 5-7, 195.

Four more just on the wrong side of the bubble: CB Trey Wolfe, NT Jerrell Powe, TE Devin Mahina, OLB Jackson Jeffcoat

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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