Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taking a stab at the final 53-man roster

This seems like the right time to take a first whack at predicting the final 53 man roster. I am intentionally doing this before the preseason games start up because the point is to lay out my preconceptions as a baseline so we can track developments and see what turns out differently and why. While I’m picking the down-depth chart guys based on extremely limited information, I will at least try to let you know my rationale. We will probably revisit this post after each preseason game to see if any of these predictions need to be revised. If you haven’t read my earlier position overviews, you can get to them by clicking on the position name at the beginning of each section to get introduced to all these guys who I’m keeping and cutting.

Offensive Line: Chris Samuels, Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach, Randy Thomas, Stephon Heyer, Jeremy Bridges, Chad Rinehart, Devin Clark, Edwin Williams

Bridges has significant playing experience and can play either guard or tackle, so he’s a no-brainer. Rinehart is the succession plan for Randy Thomas, and could start getting the playing time sooner rather than later. Clark is our primary tackle prospect, so he gets kept. Finally, I’m going to throw Maryland product Edwin Williams on there mainly because he’s a center, and you always need a backup center. I have tremendous respect for the dedication Mike Williams has shown to make it this far, but he hasn’t played in three years. If he makes it he just might be the comeback story of the decade. I’m rooting for him, but won’t hold my breath.

Running Backs: Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts, Mike Sellers, Rock Cartwright, Dominique Dorsey

There is so clearly an intention to add a running back that I would be shocked if one of the new guys didn’t stick. I was tempted to keep Eddie Williams simply because it’s easier to imagine how he would be used in the offense, but it’s equally easy to see him on the practice squad for the year. So far neither Dorsey nor Anthony Alridge have done anything to distinguish themselves (and both have been fumbling in camp) but there’s been too much attention focused on the proverbial “home run hitter” back to think they would both be cut. Also, the need for a punt returner favors these guys. I’m going with Dorsey based on his punt return exploits in Canada. And sorry Marcus Mason fans, I still need to see him block somebody before he even gets consideration.

Wide Receivers: Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle-El, Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, D.J Hackett, Trent Shelton

The first four are of course set in stone. Hackett can probably win the fifth spot due to his past performance in Zorn’s offense (he’s been considered a potential starter at his previous NFL stops but keeps getting derailed by injuries). Due to Hackett’s injury tendency, the track record already racked up by Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, and the fact the Santana tends to get tweaks a couple times per year, I think it’s likely the Redskins will keep six receivers. I’m giving that sixth spot to Shelton, also due to his familiarity with the offense from his time on Seattle’s practice squad.

Tight Ends: Chris Cooley, Fred Davis

As I said in the overview, Davis is probably driving Todd Yoder out of a job. If we have two competent tight ends Yoder is just not needed, especially since Sellers is frequently used in an H-back role when extra blocking is needed on the line. Of course that can change if we don’t add a running back, if we only go with five receivers, or if any number of other factors turn out differently.

Quarterbacks: Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, Colt Brennan

If this was the 53 man roster I was rooting for, it would be Campbell, Brennan, Chase Daniel, but that’s not what we’re doing here. As much as Zorn seems to want to give Brennan the #2 job, come decision time I think very few NFL coaches will want to run without a backup who has thrown even one NFL pass. Unless Colt totally lights up the preseason, cutting Collins would be a tough move for Zorn to make. Of course if that comes to pass, I’m not looking forward to people screaming for Colt to start the first time we lose a game (or even before).

Defensive Line: Albert Haynesworth, Cornelius Griffin, Kedric Golston, Anthony Montgomery (tackles); Andre Carter, Philip Daniels, Lorenzo Alexander, Jeremy Jarmon, Rob Jackson (ends); half of Brian Orakpo (hybrid)

Not much mystery at tackle. At end, Orakpo and Alexander will probably be the primary rotation partners with Carter and Daniels. Jarmon is obviously guaranteed a spot due to the investment in him. I feel like one more is needed for depth, and that creates a competition among Jackson, Alex Buzbee, and veteran Renaldo Wynn. Buzbee’s big chance was last year after Daniels went down, and blowing out his knee a few hours later was a lousy bit of luck but his window may have passed. I think the team is finally recognizing the need for a youth movement, and Wynn is just not good enough to overcome his age. Because a year has already been invested in Rob Jackson’s development, he seems like a reasonable bet to hang onto the last DE spot.

Linebacker: London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh, Alfred Fincher, H.B. Blades, Cody Glenn, Robert Henson, the rest of Orakpo

I keep hearing about Chris Wilson’s skills and how Blache regrets that they haven’t been able to get him more playing time in the past, but I can’t see how that would change in this roster. Because I can’t figure out a way to use him, I’m saying his clock runs out and both draft picks make the roster, although we’ll probably see them on special teams only (if they’re even activated on game days).

Defensive Backs: Carlos Rogers, DeAngelo Hall, Fred Smoot, Justin Tryon, Kevin Barnes (corners); LaRon Landry, Chris Horton, Reed Doughty, Kareem Moore (safeties)

Didn’t have to put much thought into this one – the only real competition is the race between Barnes and Tryon to move up the depth chart and replace Smoot (and possibly line up a starting spot for next season if Rogers leaves). There’s other depth guys in camp, but I think they’re counting on an injury to have any chance.

Specialists: Ethan Albright (long-snapper); Shaun Suisham (kicker), Hunter the (Punter).

Suisham’s the only one facing competition, and so far as I can tell Rayner is not particularly impressive. We also can’t rule out that Rayner will wash out early and an entirely different kicker will be added at some point during the preseason.

So there's 53 guys. Did anyone get left off who you think has a good chance to make it? Does this roster leave any position to thin or pile up depth where it's not needed? Did I piss you off by disrespecting Marcus Mason again? Suggested changes are welcome.

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