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Way too early Redskins 53-man roster projection--Defense

Way too early Redskins 53-man roster projection--Defense

The Redskins will hold their first major on-field activity of their preseason program today when they start their rookie camp in Ashburn. That’s too early to predict who will make the 53-man roster when all of the preseason activity is done and the final cuts are made on September 5. But that won’t stop me. Here is who I think ends up making the defensive portion of the final 53; I took my shot at the offense yesterday.

Starters in bold

Defense (25)

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

This seems to be pretty well set barring injury. There were three arrivals via free agency in Knighton, Paea, and Jean Francois but three who had been around for the last few seasons, Jarvis Jenkins, Barry Cofield, and Stephen Bowen, are gone. That means that Kearse, a pleasant surprise with three sacks last year, and the veteran Golston are likely to stay around.

Outside linebacker (4): Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Jackson Jeffcoat

It probably won’t really matter much if Murphy or Smith starts; both will have substantial roles in the defense. I’m not sure how comfortable they are with Jeffcoat as their depth option; the Redskins may aggressively check the waiver wire for a more experienced backup.

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

There doesn’t seem to be much drama here in terms of making the 53 as long as they stick with five at this position. Things could get interesting as Compton and perhaps even the rookie Spaight push to take snaps and perhaps even the starting job away from Riley.

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

This is dependent on Hall being ready for the start of the season after twice tearing his Achilles last fall. Although reports on his recovery are positive at this point, Hall being ready for Week 1 is not a given at this point. If Hall is healthy and if Mitchel shows some ability in training camp it could mean the end for Tracy Porter.

Safety (4): Dashon Goldson, Jeron Johnson, Phillip Thomas, Kyshoen Jarrett

I’d be less than truthful if I said that the two behind Goldson and Jonson are any more than an educated guess. Certainly Akeem Davis, Trenton Robinson, and Duke Ihenacho have legitimate shots at making it. And there is no free safety to back up Goldson; that duty could fall to a cornerback already on the roster or perhaps one could be found on the waiver wire.

Specialists (3)

LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way, PK Kai Forbath

Forbath could be pushed by some competition, although rookie Ty Long out of Alabama-Birmingham, the only other kicker on the roster, is probably not the guy to do it.

Counts (including yesterday’s prediction on offense):

  • Offense—25
  • Defense—25
  • Specialists—3

New to organization since last year: 16 (6 offense, 10 defense) (9 draft picks, one rookie free agent, six free agents)

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.