After a busy free agency period, a draft in which 10 new players were added and the acquisition of about a dozen undrafted college players, the Redskins look much different than they did last December. So in the coming weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will break down the roster position-by-position as the offseason activities ramp up and depth charts come into focus.
Position: Outside linebacker.
On the roster: Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Jackson Jeffcoat, Trevardo Williams and James Gayle.
Likely to make the 53: Kerrigan, Murphy, Smith and Jeffcoat.
Comment: Assuming the Redskins keep four outside linebackers as they did last year, the first three aren’t very tough to figure out.
Kerrigan is arguably the team’s best player on defense, is coming off a career year and negotiating a lucrative, long-term extension. He’s also committed to taking more of a leadership role in 2015. Murphy, meantime, is a 2014 second rounder who started eight games last season. The buzz around Redskins Park is that he’s bulked up and should make a bigger impact as a sophomore. And Smith is this year’s second round selection. Although the Mississippi State product has a lot to learn in a short amount of time, the expectation is that he’ll make a significant impact as a rookie.
The question at this position revolves around the fourth—and likely—final spot, which last season didn’t see the field much, anyway. Kerrigan played 1,000 snaps, while Brian Orakpo and Trent Murphy combined for 996. Next in playing time was Jeffcoat at 118 snaps.
Battling for a job: Jeffcoat and Williams.
Comment: Both Jeffcoat and Williams produced a sack last season in limited playing time. Jeffcoat, the son of former Cowboys defensive end Jim Jeffcoat, also notched an interception.
But, as with most backup jobs, the tiebreaker is going to be special teams. Williams made two tackles (and missed another) on coverage teams, while Jeffcoat was not credited with a tackle, again, in limited playing time.
Long shot: Gayle.
Comment: If you’re on the roster, you’ve got a shot. Some, however, face longer odds than others. Gayle, a 6-4, 259-pound Virginia Tech product, was signed by the Redskins in January after spending a portion of last summer in the Titans’ camp. He has not appeared in an NFL game.
Post-draft depth chart series