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Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

Projecting the Redskins' 2017 roster—Defense

The Redskins are looking at potential free agents and continuing with the draft process as they try to move team from residing in the middle of the pack in the NFL to becoming annual contenders to go deep into the playoffs. The process is all about trying to build a solid 53-man depth chart. Let’s get out the crystal ball and see what that depth chart might look like.

Earlier this week we looked at the offense; today the defense is up. Although there could be a change to a 4-3 base defense in the making depending on who the coordinator is, we’ll line them up in a 3-4 until there is word to the contrary.

*Pending unrestricted free agent

Defensive line

Starters: Chris Baker*, draft pick/free agent X 2
Backups: Matt Ioannidis, Ricky Jean Francois, Anthony Lanier

It seems that Baker wants to stay and give that the Redskins would be starting their D-line virtually from scratch without him the chances of coming up with a deal seem strong. I will spend the entire 99 days between now and the draft saying that it’s not a given that they will take a defensive lineman, or any defensive player, with their top draft pick. But someone like Malik McDowell of Michigan State sure would fit in well here along with a free agent like Bennie Logan of the Eagles. The organization will be looking for leaps forward from Ioannidis and Lanier.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Outside linebacker

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Backups: Junior Galette, Trent Murphy, Lynden Trail

Although nothing is certain until pen is put to paper, the chances of Galette giving it another go after two torn Achilles in two years are strong. Trail and Houston Bates will battle for a fifth spot, if there is one. Given Smith’s inconsistency and the uncertainty of Galette’s health it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft an edge rusher.

Inside linebacker

Starters: Will Compton, free agent
Backups: Martrell Spaight, Mason Foster, draft pick

I’m putting Compton there in dry erase marker, not in Sharpie. They love his leadership and work ethic but he must make more plays. I have a free agent starting beside him because it’s a tough position for a rookie to learn. But if they spend a high draft pick that player could jump into a starting job quickly.  Foster moves into the nickel role that he performed well after Su’a Cravens went out with an injury. Steven Daniels, a 2016 seventh-round pick who spent the year on injured reserve, could push Spaight for a job.

Cornerback

Starters: Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar
Backups: Kendall Fuller (nickel), Tharold Simon, free agent/draft pick

This could go in a lot of different directions. The only spot set in stone is Norman’s. I have Bashaud Breeland moving to safety, which is something of a speculative hot take. If they make that move, they could spend a high draft pick or substantial free agent money on a corner or they could stay in-house with Dunbar or Fuller. Simon could make the team and contribute or he could be cut.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Safety

Starters: Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland
Backups: Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, draft pick

Safeties are hard to find. In college, potentially good safeties gravitate towards cornerback, where the NFL money is better. If a good one hits the free agent market, the laws of supply and demand push the price up beyond the value of the position. For those reasons, the Redskins might try Breeland at safety. Some in the organization have believed for a couple of years that safety is his best position. Cravens announced that he would be moving to safety so that change is firm. Duke Ihenacho, who is a free agent, could be back but I think he moves along. Blackmon is a good veteran reserve who can play nickel also. Even though he made a key interception when forced into duty against the Eagles, it still seems that they don’t trust Everett at safety and perhaps a mid-round pick will replace him.

Specialists: LS Nick Sundberg*, P Tress Way, PK Dustin Hopkins

I predict that Sundberg will be the first of the team’s pending free agents to agree to a contract. Hopkins may get some camp competition but it is unlikely to be of more than the token variety.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Burning Questions: Which Washington Football Team player has a lot riding on 2020?

Burning Questions: Which Washington Football Team player has a lot riding on 2020?

As training camp continues to build, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will answer burning questions related to the Washington Football Team.

Up next: Which player, outside of Dwayne Haskins, has a lot riding on 2020?

Pete's pick: Sean Davis

Washington's free agency class is crowded with players on one-year deals, which is something Ron Rivera loves.

"A lot of these guys want to come in and say, ‘Hey, give me an opportunity to compete, let me prove myself,'" Rivera told the media a few months ago. "I love that guys are betting on themselves, that they’re going to come in and prove that they belong, that they deserve an extensive contract." 

Sean Davis is one such guy who's betting on himself, and should he win that bet, it'll do a ton for his career as well as for the franchise, too.

First, look at it from Davis' point of view. The ex-Steeler was a useful contributor during his first three years in Pittsburgh, but in 2019, he appeared just once before landing on injured reserve in mid-September. He needs to bounce back to ensure his NFL arrow is pointing upward again.

As for Washington, well, they've been looking for a pair of safeties to rely on for more than a decade now. They're locked in with Landon Collins at one spot, and with Davis being just 26 years old, he looks like an ideal candidate to slide into the other. 

Davis must be healthy, clean up his tackling and handle his coverage duties well, though, for both he and the organization to be happy. If he comes through, expect his next contract to far outweigh the one he's currently on.

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JP's pick: Fabian Moreau

Cornerbacks can make big money if they prove an ability to stay on the field and cover, and fourth-year Washington CB Fabian Moreau has a real opportunity this fall to show he can do both.

A third-round pick in 2017, Moreau came to Washington with plenty of fanfare from his college days at UCLA. Things haven’t really clicked yet, but the 2020 season presents a chance to take over a starting outside cornerback spot.

For the past few seasons, Moreau has been overshadowed by Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar, but neither player is in Washington anymore. Moreau has also dealt with injuries. As a rookie, he barely played while working back from a torn pectoral and last year he missed a chunk of time with a hurt ankle. 

BURNING QUESTIONS: WHO WILL BREAK OUT?

Now, in 2020, Moreau needs to show up. 

Washington signed Kendall Fuller this offseason and he will nail down one spot in the secondary while Moreau and Ronald Darby compete to start opposite Fuller. If Moreau can win that job, and then play well on the field after that, he stands to see a major payday next year in free agency.

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Former Washington RB Derrius Guice a free agent after going unclaimed on waivers

Former Washington RB Derrius Guice a free agent after going unclaimed on waivers

Derrius Guice is officially a free agent.

The running back unsurprisingly went unclaimed on waivers after Washington released him on Friday. Guice is now free to sign with any team. 

The 23-year-old was released by Washington on Friday after he was arrested on domestic violence charges. Guice, who had become a fan-favorite during his two-plus years in Washington, has denied all accusations against him, per his attorney. 

Additionally, Guice -- who is usually active on social media -- has deleted both his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

While a healthy Guice would likely be an upgrade to many backfields across the league, it's unclear if any teams will take a chance signing him

Guice's NFL career thus far has been all potential and little production. While he's shined when on the field, the running back has missed 27 of a possible 32 games due to multiple knee injuries since Washington selected him 59th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. 

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Stay connected to the team with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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