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Need to Know: How many players are locks to make the Redskins' 53?

Need to Know: How many players are locks to make the Redskins' 53?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 25, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

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Hey, I'm taking off a couple of days prior to the start of training camp. I'm going to repost a few of the more popular posts from the last few months. This one is from May 20, before the start of OTAs. There are a few tweaks I might make to it but it largely stands intact. 

I'll be back on Monday morning, bright and early a always. 

Who are the locks to make the roster?

(originally posted 5/20/15)

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. There is plenty of talk from Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan about competition. But how much competition is there really? How many of those coveted 53 jobs are already locked up and how many are up for grabs? As OTA’s start next 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:

Offense (20)

QB (2): Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy
RB (3): Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Matt Jones
WR (6): Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder, Evan Spencer
TE (2): Jordan Reed, Niles Paul
OL (7): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Shawn Lauvao, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio

Two of last year’s starters on the line, Chris Chester and Tom Compton are in danger of not making the roster. Kirk Cousins is a lock at QB unless he is traded. There will be plenty of competition for the last one or two spots at running back. Tight end seems to be set but there is a long shot chance for someone surprising and knocking Logan Paulsen off of the 53. It’s not much of a chance but enough so I’m not calling Paulsen a lock.

The Redskins are likely to keep 25 or 26 offensive players so there are five or six jobs up for grabs on that side of the ball.

Defense (18)

DL (5): Jason Hatcher, Stephen Paea, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Terrance Knighton
LB (8): Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, Will Compton, Martrell Spaight, Adam Hayward
DB (5): Chris Culliver, Bashaud Breeland, David Amerson, Dashon Goldson, Jeron Johnson

On the line there is at least one or possibly two jobs up for grabs. Inside linebacker looks set but there is an opening for a backup outside LB. The defensive backfield probably has four spots to be filled. One of them will go to DeAngelo Hall if his injured Achilles is rehabbed in time for the start of the season.

There are likely to be 24 or 25 defensive players on the roster so that leaves six or seven spots open counting the one that Hall might fill.

The three specialists on the roster, kicker Kai Forbath, punter Tress Way, and long snapper Nick Sundberg, are all locks.

That makes a total of 41 locks so 12 jobs are up for grabs,

Who is in contention for those 12 spots? I count 23 players who right now appear to have a legitimate chance of challenging for those jobs:

Offense (10): OL’s Tom Compton, Chris Chester, Josh LeRibeus, Austin Reiter; TE’s Je’Ron Hamm, Chase Dixon; QB Kirk Cousins; RB’s Silas Redd, Chris Thompson, Trey Williams

Defense (12): DL’s Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse; OLBs Jackson Jeffcoat, Trevardo Williams; DB’s DeAngelo Hall, Tevin Mitchel, Tracy Porter, Phillip Thomas, Trenton Robinson, Duke Ihenacho, Kyshoen Jarrett, Akeem Davis

With 41 locks and 22 bubble players, that leaves 27 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.

Timeline

—It’s been 209 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 50 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 5; Preseason opener @ Browns 10; final cuts 42

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The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

Every NFL training camp is different, but there are a few consistent things you can count on happening at each one each year.

At some point, for example, a star will say that he's "just excited to hit a guy wearing a different colored jersey" after about a week of practicing against his teammates. Also on the list: a coach will tell reporters that his defense plans on being more aggressive and hopes to create more turnovers in the regular season.

One of the more pleasant camp traditions, meanwhile, is that undrafted rookie who goes from stand-in to stand out and makes the team by impressing in drills and preseason contests.

But while there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for trying to figure out who'll do that for the Redskins in 2017, let's instead look back at a handful of the players who've already accomplished that in the past with Washington. Here are the seven best undrafted free agents the franchise has unearthed since 2010.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER WITH KEY STATS FOR KIRK COUSINS IN 2017

Logan Paulsen (2010)

No one will ever mistake Logan Paulsen's film for Rob Gronkowski's, but the former UCLA Bruin held down the third tight end spot for the Redskins from 2010-2014.

His two best years came in 2012 and 2013, where he posted 25 and 28 catches respectively, scored four total times and was on the receiving end of this magical fourth-down pass from Robert Griffin III against the Giants, a play that might've just been the peak of Griffin's rookie year. Now 30, Paulsen is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan out in San Francisco, continuing to exceed expectations and extending what's been a fruitful NFL career.

Will Compton (2013)

Will Compton's made a steady climb up Washington's roster since entering the league as a free agent linebacker out of Nebraska.

He was cut in his first season back in 2013 but latched onto the practice squad. He eventually debuted near the end of 2013, though, and made the 53-man squad the next go-round. 2015 was when he first started playing regularly, then last year he started 15 contests while also serving as a captain.

In 2017, he'll have to compete with Zach Brown and Mason Foster for a starting gig, but he figures to play plenty no matter the outcome and he's one of Jay Gruden's most trusted defenders. Not bad for a guy who has admitted he "wasn't confident" as a rookie:

Houston Bates (2015)

Special teams often is the avenue a college free agent has to take to make a roster, and Houston Bates is an example of one who's been there, done that. He's appeared in 24 games for the Redskins in his first two NFL campaigns and will look to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last December so he can add to that total in year three.

Before that injury, he was Washington's most active special teams player with 292 snaps in 14 contests.

Quinton Dunbar (2015)

Quinton Dunbar has not only overcome being an undrafted free agent; the former Florida Gator has also made the successful transition from wide receiver to cornerback, too.

Like his classmate Bates, Dunbar has participated often in 2015 and 2016, and like Paulsen, his biggest moments have come against the Giants. As a first-year pro, he picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to the delight of a raucous FedExField crowd, and as a sophomore, he helped complete a risky fake punt and also notched another (absolutely insane) INT in New York:

Rob Kelley (2016)

This offseason, Jay Gruden joked that Rob Kelley has worked his way up from "ninth-string" to starter. He laughed as he said it, but it may not have been that big of an exaggeration.

Kelley never rushed for more than 420 yards at Tulane, but he ripped off 704 last year for the 'Skins. Now he's the top option in a talented backfield, and while Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson are nipping at his heels for carries, Gruden has repeatedly said how much he loves Kelley. He'll be fed plenty in 2017.

Anthony Lanier (2016)

Anthony Lanier's on this list not for what he's done, but for what he's projected to do. Gruden uses not one but two really's to describe how excited he is about Lanier, and a couple of months of working with assistant Jim Tomsula might be all the lineman needs to make the jump from a project to a problem. 

Maurice Harris (2016)

Last on the list is a receiver who displayed sure hands and a knack for converting third downs in limited action last year. Maurice Harris now looks like he'll be an early option off the bench in Gruden's offense and should see the field far more often than he did in the second half of 2016.

You may not be fully sold on Harris, but it sounds like his teammates are, so don't be surprised if he breaks out and develops into another option for Kirk Cousins:

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 23, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 49 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 18
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 27
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 41

The Redskins by the numbers

5.01—The average yards per carry against the Redskins on first down last year.

I have noted this before but I took a closer look and it’s even worse. In 2016, four running backs—Isaiah Crowell of the Browns, DeAngelo Williams of the Steelers, Jordan Howard of the Bears, and Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys—gained over 100 yards against Washington on first down alone. It took Elliott two games to get there but the other three made it in one. If the Redskins don’t get this fixed (this is the second year in a row they have been last in the league here) their defense won’t get much better.

3.85—The Redskins average offensive gain per carry on first down.

This is not a very good performance here — the average is 20th in the NFL. But it does represent a significant improvement from 2015, when they were last in the NFL at 3.3 yards per carry. One difference was negative plays. Two years ago, they had 63 first-down plays go for no gain or a loss of yards. Last year they had 48 such plays. Rob Kelley, who was fourth-best in the league as a rookie last year at gaining yardage after being contacted behind the line, can claim a lot of credit.

8—The number of opponents’ fumbles the Redskins recovered this year.

A total of 17 other teams recovered more fumbles than the Redskins did last year and their recoveries were exactly half of what they were in 2015, when they had 16, the most in the league. It wasn’t surprising that their recoveries fell. The numbers crunchers say that fumble recoveries aren’t “sticky,” meaning that there tends to be a lot of variance for each team each year. And that makes sense as a lot of recovering fumbles is the bounce of the ball.

But it should be noted that the Redskins forced just 22 fumbles last year after forcing 36 in 2015. You have to get the ball on the ground to recover it and the Redskins could do a better job of forcing fumbles in 2017

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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