The Washington Football Team shut down its offseason last week after a successful run of OTAs and a mandatory minicamp. The team got out of the spring and summer workouts without major injury, which is most important, and built real momentum for training camp, which begins next month.
For Washington head coach Ron Rivera, the final roster is already on his mind.
"It is early because we still haven’t done anything in terms of training-camp practices or games, but as we look at it we try to figure out how we can fit these pieces of the puzzle,” the coach said during minicamp.
With that in mind, here's a look at several players and position groups with little more than a month before camp opens in Richmond.
- Too much is being made of Taylor Heinicke’s impressive minicamp. For three padless days in June, Heinicke was good -- better than Ryan Fitzpatrick -- but the veteran with the big beard has a firm plant on QB1.
- There’s been some online speculation that Kyle Allen might not make the squad, and, instead, Washington will roll with just two quarterbacks. Don’t buy that. At all. Remember too that this regime used a fifth-round draft pick to acquire Allen last season and re-signed him this offseason. He's part of the plan.
- The tackle depth took a hit with the release of Morgan Moses, but Sam Cosmi does look ready to rock. What’s more interesting is the interior offensive line, where at least one recent draft pick could be on the cut line. Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier are roster locks. Wes Schweitzer and Ereck Flowers seem like certainties, too. What happens with Wes Martin and Keith Ismael? Is Saadhiq Charles in the interior equation or a tackle? Lots of names to watch here, but with likely 10 offensive line spots, there will be a real battle at the bottom of the list.
- Antonio Gibson could be in store for a major season, and J.D. McKissic has a clearly defined pass-catching role for this team. But what happens after that? Peyton Barber's best ability was short-yardage and goal line work, but he visibly slimmed down this offseason. Rivera says Barber will be just as effective because of his leverage as a runner. Time will tell. Is there a roster spot for undrafted rookie Jaret Patterson? Hard to see four RBs on a roster with three QBs.
- If somebody knows who Washington's third tight end is pay them a dollar. Logan Thomas is firmly entrenched in the top spot and rookie John Bates looks poised to be the No. 2. After that? Sammis Reyes has much to learn and beyond that is a combination of unproven young guys and journeymen. Opportunity abounds.
- Perhaps no position group in the NFL got the total overhaul that Washington did at wide receiver. The group got much better, but remember how bad this group was in 2020. Astonishingly Washington broke training camp last summer with more than 60% of its receiver group undrafted free agents. That's a ridiculous concentration of undrafted players at one position, let alone a skill position in a passing league. Through spending money in free agency and the draft Washington's wideouts are much better in 2021, and it's obvious when watching practice. Rookie Dyami Brown looks great early. The real fight will be for the 6th - or 7th - WR spot. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Brown are roster locks. After that Adam Humphries and Cam Sims seem like certainties. After that? Antonio Gandy-Golden, Kelvin Harmon, Steve Sims and rookie Dax Milne better be ready for a real training camp dogfight.
- Chase Young is the best player on the team. Montez Sweat might be the second best player on the team. Behind those two on the defensive end depth chart comes serious questions. A trio of seventh-round picks in James Smith-Williams, William Bradley-King and Shaka Toney along with 2020 waivers claim Casey Toohill. Washington doesn't only need major production from Young and Sweat, they're going to need health too.
- Landon Collins tore his Achilles tendon last October. That injury usually requires at least a full year of recovery. Expect Collins to open training camp on the PUP list.
- Washington might not need third-round rookie Benjamin St-Juste to be ready to roll Week 1, but it would be a big help. Jack Del Rio's defense has stud corners in William Jackson and Kendall Fuller, though the squad doesn't have a defined third corner. If St-Juste can play right away, that provides depth and flexibility, and Fuller might be able to showcase his skill all over the secondary.
- Can't wait to watch Jamin Davis in Richmond. Minicamp with no pads and no contact allowed is not a great way to evaluate linebackers, especially a rookie.