Over the past month, the Redskins’ depth chart has undergone a minor makeover as seven draft picks and more than a dozen college free agents have been welcomed into the fold. In the coming days, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will break down the revamped roster, position-by-position, and set up the key battles as OTAs ramp up.
On the roster: Will Blackmon, David Bruton Jr., Su’a Cravens, Deshazor Everett, DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho, Kyshoen Jarrett and Geno Matias-Smith
Likely to make the 53: Hall, Cravens, Bruton, Blackmon and Ihenacho
Comment: This is going to be one of the more interesting positions to track this offseason. Entering OTAs, Hall would seem to be safe as one starter. The other? I’m leaning Bruton or Ihenacho…but it’s early and clear position battles have yet to materialize.
Ihenacho won the starting strong safety job last year but got hurt, again. In fact, he’s been limited to a grand total of 13 defensive snaps the past two years due to injury.
Cravens? I’m not sure he should be classified as a safety. Yet, that is. If you believe Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan, the rookie’s official position is TBD—as in to be determined. Right now, he’s lining up as an inside linebacker as the staff attempts to teach him the defensive playbook from the inside out.
I’ve got Blackmon penciled in as the jack-of-all-trades defensive back. Because, well, he can literally play anywhere. That versatility will be key, particularly with Jarrett’s status for 2016 very much in doubt due a nerve injury he suffered in the regular season finale.
That’s five right there. Which is the number the team kept last year. But what about Everett? As a rookie, he led the Redskins in special teams tackles with 11—four more than anyone else. Everett also ranked fourth in special teams snaps in 2015—and the top two (Darrell Young and Jeron Johnson) have moved on.
As you can see, something’s got to give.
Battling for a job: Everett and Matias-Smith.
Comment: I’m not sure how much (if anything) Jarrett will be able to contribute this season. Unless there’s an unexpected turnaround, I can’t see him on the field anytime soon. So I don’t have him making the 53. But I also don’t think he’ll be battling for a job. At this point, injured reserve would seem to be his likely destination.
I’ve got Everett battling for a spot (for now) but I suspect they’ll find a place for a young special teams standout. Will it come at the expense of someone else? If so, who gets squeezed?
Matias-Smith, an undrafted player out of Alabama, was the Tide’s third leading tackler last season (72). But he’s facing an uphill climb with so many vets ahead of him. If he shows enough—and proves he has matured after encountering some off-the-field issues in college—the practice squad could be in play.