The biggest question for roster construction of the Washington Football Team comes at quarterback, and in most ways, the question has been answered. With Alex Smith now on the active list it's near impossible for him not to make the season opening 53-man roster, and in turn, that means Washington keeps three QBs on the roster.
That has a massive trickle down effect, particularly at running back and the offensive line. If just Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen make the team at QB, then Washington could keep five running backs and nine offensive linemen. That would be easy.
But with three QBs, Washington needs to find another offensive roster spot or carry more offensive players than defensive players. For this exercise, that's the plan. And it works because the questions at running back and offensive line present far more pressing concerns than carrying a seventh linebacker. And maybe, just maybe, there's a defensive lineman that can also help at linebacker and enough big bodied wide receivers to help on special teams to make this whole jigsaw puzzle work.
Here we go - Training Camp 53-man roster projection
QB (3) Dwayne Haskins Alex Smith Kyle Allen
Note - Now that Smith is on the active roster, Washington has very little choice but to carry three QBs. Maybe, maybe, Smith can revert back to IR but that would require an injury designation release that could create a major cap hit. Better off just to pay him and keep him on the 53 and make him inactive on game day. Unless he’s active on game day... Stay tuned.
RB (5) Adrian Peterson Bryce Love Antonio Gibson JD McKissic Peyton Barber
Note - It's no sure thing this team will keep five running backs, and the two guys with the least secure roles are McKissic and Barber. But it's worth remembering that Peterson is 35 and Love hasn't played a football game since December 2018. Barber provides insurance for both of those guys. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner loves to throw the ball to his backs and McKissic might be the best pass catcher of this group; he played wideout in college. Gibson and McKissic will both be versatile players for this offense, and keep in mind McKissic was one of the first free agents signed by Rivera.
WR (6) Terry McLaurin Steve Sims Dontrelle Inman Antonio Gandy-Golden Isaiah Wright Cam Sims
Note - The first four spots seem fairly locked in, and even undrafted rookie Wright seems close to a done deal. His special teams ability helps. In fact, expect every one of these players except McLaurin to play some role on specials. The sixth wideout spot could come down to Cam Sims, Trey Quinn or Darvin Kidsy, and Sims has the best size and special teams potential of the three. Jester Weah is another big wideout that could maybe land a practice squad role.
TE (3) Logan Thomas Marcus Baugh Jeremy Sprinkle
Note - Washington head coach Ron Rivera has talked about each of these three tight ends and the reps during training camp made obvious the hierarchy. Thomas has developed a real strong dynamic with Haskins, too. After the team moved Thaddeus Moss to injured reserve, tight end became one of the easiest groups to project.
OL (9) Morgan Moses Brandon Scherff Chase Roullier Wes Martin Geron Christian Saahdiq Charles
Keith Ismael Ross Pierschbacher Corneilus Lucas
Note - The starting unit is locked in but there are very serious questions about depth. The team added veteran guard Wes Schweitzer in free agency but he's barely practiced so far. Can't make the club in the tub, and Washington spent a fifth-round pick on Pierschbacher last season. He's under team control for three more seasons so maybe O-line coach John Matsko could try to mold him into a useful player. It will also bear watching if or when Charles starts practicing. He's been dealing with a calf injury and has been on the shelf for all of training camp. If the injury lingers would Washington consider trying to move him to IR? Same question can be asked with Schweitzer.
DL (8) Ryan Kerrigan Ryan Anderson Chase Young Montez Sweat Jonathan Allen Daron Payne Matt Ioannidis Tim Settle
Note - No surprises here and this is the best unit on the team. The player that makes the uneven roster distribution work between the offense and defense is Ryan Anderson. He's taken some snaps at linebacker during training camp, and can probably help in that spot in goalline situations while being a pass rusher in other spots. It's not perfect but it allows for Smith, Barber and a fourth offensive tackle to make the Week 1 roster. Anderson's versatility is key, and Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have mentioned it repeatedly this offseason.
LB (6) Shaun Dion Hamilton Cole Holcomb Thomas Davis Jon Bostic Kevin Pierre-Louis Khaleke Hudson
Note - This team could really use Reuben Foster but to this point he hasn’t shown the same explosive athleticism that he displayed before blowing out his knee during OTAs in 2019. Maybe that’s coming, but right now it might make sense to try and get Foster to the IR and give him more time to get up to speed. He’s been running with the third team in practice and has a balky brace on hIs knee.
CB (6) Kendall Fuller Ronald Darby Fabian Moreau Jimmy Moreland Greg Stroman Aaron Colvin
Note - If Darby can stay healthy this unit could outpace expectations. Moreland has real ball skills. Colvin hardly has a lock on the sixth CB spot. Danny Johnson will fight for it, and keep tabs on Ryan Lewis and Simeon Thomas as well. The sixth, and maybe even the fifth, corner spot is probably the most open competition remaining.
Safety (4) Landon Collins Troy Apke Deshazor Everett Sean Davis
Note - Davis was the free agent addition but right now he might be lowest on the depth chart. Apke has been a big surprise so far. Don't sleep on Kamren Curl either; a seventh-round pick that has made a handful of impressive plays during training camp.
Specialists (3) LS - Nick Sundberg K - Dustin Hopkins P - Tress Way
Note - Duh.