Hoffman: Redskins 53-man roster projection


The good news is the Redskins have about 55 quality NFL players in their camp. The bad news is they're not exactly split into the best positions, meaning keeping a few guys that probably aren’t “the best 53” while sending one or two players who deserve to be on the time to waivers, hoping they can retain them on the practice squad.

Quarterbacks: Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, Dwayne Haskins

The Redskins will keep three. McCoy might not be ready for a few weeks, but that really doesn’t matter as long as Keenum is healthy. One of these three will be inactive on game day anyway. For the time being, that will be McCoy.

Running Back: Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine

For a long time, I only had three here but I think there are going to be four backs. The fourth was on pace to be speedster Shaun Wilson, who flashed in camp and impressed in the return game before getting hurt against Cincinnati. He’s likely to go on IR this week or perhaps they waive him as a part of the wave of cuts and then bring him back on the practice squad.

Perine had a solid camp in Richmond and then finally got some good looks against Atlanta, including a touchdown. The other option would be Byron Marshall, who is more versatile as a backup to Chris Thompson but he’s not as good. Neither are particularly good special teams players. Perine has been working to be better there but has only come so far. Marshall famously tackled a blocker instead of a ball carrier last year in Jacksonville. 

Live Roster Updates: Redskins cutdown day tracker

Truth be told, I like Craig Reynolds over both of the other two guys (Perine/Marshall) and I’m not entirely convinced he’s not going to make it over them. He’s a better special teams player and might be just as good as a running back.

Bryce Love will start the season on NFI (non-football injury) as he’s still not close to ready for football after tearing his ACL in December at Stanford. Gruden said this week this might wind up as a redshirt year and his presence won’t affect the decision to keep three or four running backs, but he could return late in the season if he gets back to full strength and they need someone at RB. NFI carries the same rules as PUP, meaning a player is eligible to practice after six weeks and play after eight.

Wide Receiver: Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn, Terry McLaurin, Cam Sims, Robert Davis, Kelvin Harmon

I'm going to be overly transparent here: I had Doctson off after a discussion I had yesterday going into the game. I got spooked by Cam Sims' drops, and I'm keeping Doctson on. Here's why:

There are people in the room making the decision Saturday who will argue that Davis, Cam Sims or Harmon could all produce at the same level Doctson has with the same targets. Last night says not so fast. Sims had seven targets, three drops and one catch. He had an incredible spring and summer, but Doctson is better right now and he’s more reliable. I know reliable isn’t the word any Redskin fan would use to describe Doctson, but he’s more reliable than a bunch of guys who haven’t played any meaningful NFL snaps. 

Add this to the fact that Richardson is hurt a lot and it’s just hard to see them going into the season with no receivers with any NFL track record outside of Richardson, even if Doctson's resume isn’t what anyone (including Josh) had hoped it would be by this point. He doesn’t show it in the way others do and he might not to the level of a Jon Allen, but Doctson cares. He competes. He has played through injury despite never really being able to figure out what’s wrong with his heel. I would keep him on. I’m now projecting him on. I may be wrong and the real answer is it is 50/50, but this game to me changed the argument in the room. The people who want to keep him can point to it and say “these other guys aren’t ready yet.”

The counter argument is about the game day roster and special teams. If Doctson and Richardson are on, but neither plays teams that leaves the Redskins in a little bit of a bind if they also want to keep McLaurin off of teams. Davis is the solution because while he’s still learning at receiver, he’s been a terrific gunner. Figuring out the active roster on Sundays is going to be tough, but they’ll make it work. 

Steven Sims is the odd man out here. I think he can be put on the practice squad and then be activated if Trey Quinn were to get hurt. While some people in the organization love him and think there’s no way he will go unclaimed, Sims was undrafted. Every team has passed on him in the draft and in free agency. Getting him through waivers might be easier than fans would think.

Realistically the Redskins have ten roster quality receivers with Brian Quick and Darvin Kidsy not even being considered here, but both could play in a game and not be lost. Jehu Chesson is No. 11 and a legitimately high-quality special teams player who also could make a lot of rosters. None of the above are true No. 1's, but the Redskins are hoping the quality depth and rotation of fresh bodies can provide some much-needed production on the outside.

Tight End: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Sprinkle

Sprinkle turned it up this off-season and held off Matt Flanagan, who didn’t pop as much as some thought he might. Flanagan and JP Holtz are practice squad candidates. Both can play H-Back as well, which makes them candidates to come up later in the season if the Redskins want to add a fullback role.

Offensive Line: Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff, Chase Roullier, Wes Martin, Donald Penn, Geron Christian, Sr., Ross Pierschbacher, Ereck Flowers, Tony Bergstrom

I’ve had eight here most of camp, but the more I think about it the more I think they’re going to go nine. Bergstrom brings a veteran presence to the depth on the line and could be serviceable at center if something happens to Roullier. Pierschbacher is a major work in progress, especially at center. His snaps have been all over the place, which is a detail significant enough to keep Bergstrom around.

Keeping nine is tough because that automatically means one is inactive on game day. None of them play special teams outside of field goal. That’s also why I have them with nine instead of ten, though it's possible if they want to keep Zac Kerin as well.

There’s another tenth who could also crack this group eventually. Trent something. Williams, I think. Yeah. Trent Williams.

Defensive Line: Jon Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle, Caleb Brantley

There’s five players that deserve to be on the roster and this is a position that doesn't play a lot on special teams. It’s easy to go light here. So I am.

Outside Linebackers: Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Ryan Anderson, Cassanova McKinzy, Jordan Brailford*

This position was thrown completely for a loop Thursday night when McKinzy got hurt. He has a concussion and the Redskins need to figure out how to get to Philadelphia with four healthy bodies. The currently have three with McKinzy concussed and Jordan Brailford has an injured groin.

Brailford was the last pick in the draft and has been hurt all camp. Getting him to practice squad probably wouldn't be that hard if they wanted to stash him there, but they absolutely don't want to lose him. He's an OLB that can play special teams, which is a really valuable commodity at the back end of the roster. They could also IR him immediately and sign someone off another roster, as he's not ready for Week 1. 

The thought of keeping seven receivers or five safeties might die if they need to keep five players (with Brailford going to IR) and then sign another with McKinzy unavailable.

Inside Linebackers: Jon Bostic, Cole Holcomb, Shaun-Dion Hamilton, Josh Harvey-Clemons

I’m going thin here as well and this is where I’m most likely to be wrong. Marquis Flowers could very well make the team as a fifth inside linebacker, but there are some solid practice squad candidates to keep in reserve as well. BJ Blunt had a good summer and UDFA Gary Johnson has incredible raw traits that could be developed for the future. All three players could be helpful on special teams as well.

There’s also a really good chance that they bring in another linebacker who gets cut elsewhere. Always good to remember that the 53 on Saturday won’t be the 53 by Monday.

Other note here: don’t be surprised if Holcomb starts next to Bostic over Hamilton. Not 100% on that, but don’t be surprised.

Cornerback: Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Jimmy Moreland, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Greg Stroman

The most notable cut here is Adonis Alexander. It just hasn't worked. He hasn't developed. He hasn't stayed healthy to develop. They could still practice squad him, but they're just as likely to move on from the supplemental draft pick. If he goes to the practice squad, they might try and turn him into safety.

Danny Johnson remains on PUP as a reserve for later in the season. The biggest mystery is whether Moreland can overtake Moreau in the slot. Depending on who you ask, it’s a matter of when not if. The other wildcard here is Rodgers-Cromartie. He’s a great vet to have in the room, but he hasn’t done a whole lot in camp. If another corner that the Redskins like hits the market, DRC or Stroman could find themselves on the outs.

Safety: Landon Collins, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

Jeremy Reaves is the last cut and I had him on going into the game. The problem is McKinzy got hurt and now the Redskins need another OLB. That means instead of cutting Reaves and potentially bringing him back after they IR Brailford*, they'll bring in another OLB instead. 

He's a really good special teams player and I wouldn't be surprised to be wrong or to see another safety to be brought in. If that’s the case, maybe a running back or another WR gets chopped. 

Specialists: Nick Sundberg, Tress Way, Dustin Hopkins


Follow @CraigHoffman for more Redskins insights