Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?
Position: Outside linebacker
On the roster: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Trent Murphy, Junior Galette, Ryan Anderson, Houston Bates, Lynden Trail
Locks: Kerrigan, Smith, Murphy, Galette, Anderson
Murphy is here with an asterisk. He will not be on the 53-man roster to start the season as he will have to serve a four-game suspension before he plays. The 2014 second-round pick broke out with nine sacks and the suspension is an unfortunate setback in his contract year.
Kerrigan is the most consistent player on the defense. You can pencil him in for 16 starts and 11 sacks right now.
RELATED: 3 Redskins who are up, 3 down
What can you pencil in for Smith? If you know, tell Greg Manusky and company, I’m sure they would like to find out. If he breaks out, it could be for 15 sacks or more plus several forced fumbles and a couple of interceptions. If he remains inconsistent he could end up being a part-time player.
They may not know what they are going to get out of Smith but the real mystery man is Galette. Can he stay healthy and get on the field after zero snaps in two seasons under contract with Washington? And if he’s healthy, can he perform to the level that he did in his final two years with the Saints when he posted 12 and 10 sacks?
Anderson will learn on the job. It’s best to keep expectations low; let’s hold off on the “bust” label if he ends the season with, say, four sacks. He was drafted with 2018 in mind as Murphy and Galette both will be unrestricted free agents.
On the bubble: Bates, Trail
If not for Murphy’s suspension, these two would be more in the long shots category. But a door is open for one of them to possibly make the roster as a placeholder for Murphy. And once you’re on the roster you have a strong chance of staying.
MORE REDSKINS: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense
Bates was the fourth outside linebacker last year. He played only 24 snaps on defense plus a few on offense lined up as a short-yardage fullback. A torn ACL ended his season in Week 14 but he appears to be on track to be ready for training camp.
Trail is very large (6-7, 270) and still very raw after spending time on the practice squad in 2015 and 2016. His ticket to the roster might be special teams; opponents will be very reluctant to block the massive Trail running downfield on kick coverage.