Redskins

Redskins

After months of OTAs and minicamps, plenty of grinding at training camp and four preseason games, the Redskins finally set their 53-man roster on Saturday.

Now, the group of players the Burgundy and Gold have decided to keep could certainly look different come Week 1's opener. It's not unusual for the team to make tweaks, signing guys that were cut by other organizations to fill in on their squad.

Regardless, some strengths and weaknesses for Washington are already clear. So, which positions qualify under those categories? Here are three of each.

STRENGTHS

Defensive line (5) - Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle, Caleb Brantley

The first three names on that list are three players each of the 31 other franchises in the NFL would love to have. Allen, Payne and Ioannidis play with unrelenting effort every snap and can each wreck what an opposing offense is trying to do. Watching them this year will be insanely fun.

Settle and Brantley, meanwhile, look like they could be valuable backups, the kind of options that Jay Gruden and Jim Tomsula can feel confident in when they rotate in for the top three. Together, these five are tone-setters and, if things break right, could be one of the best defensive lines in pro football.

Running back (5) - Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson, Shaun Wilson, Byron Marshall

How Gruden decides to split up the carries between Peterson and Guice will be interesting to monitor, and possibly tricky. Can each guy get in a rhythm if they're sharing snaps? That'll be a key question — but it's also not the worst issue to have.

 

Peterson went for more than 1,000 yards in 2018 and still appears to have some serious burst; he's simply a legend doing legendary things. Then there's Guice, who had a promising outing in Atlanta and could be a legit gamebreaker at running back. And Thompson, of course, will get his touches and likely do plenty of damage with them. 

To win, this is an offense that'll need to run the ball, then run it some more. Fortunately, they're stacked at RB.

Cornerback (6) - Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jimmy Moreland, Greg Stroman

Safety was a close third here, but corner gets the nod thanks to more depth.

Norman and Dunbar are a sweet pair of starters, and should have more success on the outside thanks to the "bulls up front" (Norman's words) as well as Landon Collins' arrival.

Behind them, there's the speedy Moreau, wily DRC and up-and-comer Jimmy Moreland. There are questions about all three of those defensive backs, sure — health, level of ability remaining and preparedness to transition from college to the NFL, respectively — yet each seem to have a defined role they could thrive in.

Together, cornerback has an enticing mix of experience, youth and ball-hawking ability. Feel confident in this collection.

WEAKNESSES 

Wide receiver (6) - Paul Richardson, Trey Quinn, Steven Sims, Robert Davis, Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon

Washington's pass catchers were recently ranked as the league's worst largely because of who they have at wideout, and that was before they moved on from Josh Doctson. Overall, there's a worrisome combination of health issues and lack of past success throughout this section of the depth chart.

Yes, there are cases to be made for optimism. The Redskins are very excited about what McLaurin can do as well as Quinn's skill set, Richardson has the speed to really put pressure on secondaries and Davis had a tremendous August.

All that said, there's no real No. 1 as of now and a few ill-timed injuries could really put the offense in a dark place on the outside. While it's easy to imagine all the best-case scenarios here, it's far easier to see the negative ones playing out.

Inside linebacker (4) - Shaun Dion Hamilton, Jon Bostic, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Cole Holcomb

The loss of Reuben Foster really limited this unit's potential. Hamilton is a second-year LB with limited experience, Bostic has bounced around a ton in his career, Harvey-Clemons has never really been featured and Holcomb is a talented rookie, but a rookie nonetheless. Not to mention the fact that Hamilton and Holcomb hardly played this preseason because of injuries.

The question here doesn't have to do with this group's IQ. Rather, it's whether they're athletic enough to be effective against dynamic passing offenses. Playing behind that D-line will help in many aspects, but those studs can't help them in 1-on-1 matchups against pass-catching backs or versatile tight ends.

 

Offensive line (9) - Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff, Chase Roullier, Ereck Flowers, Donald Penn, Wes Martin, Ross Pierschbacher, Tony Bergstrom, Geron Christian 

The O-line landing on this side of the equation has just as much to do with who isn't on the roster with who is. Obviously, Trent Williams' continued absence significantly affects what this bunch can do and how effective they can be.

Moses, Scherff and Roullier are quality starters. The left side, on the other hand, is troublesome. Flowers has been incredibly inconsistent at guard, and the guy he's competing with (Martin) is a rookie. And at tackle, there's hope Penn can hold things down with Williams out, though even if he does, he's nowhere close to what No. 71 is. 

If Williams doesn't return, it might be enough to dramatically change how the 2019 campaign goes. He's that important.

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