Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take another position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2016 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others are have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. This much, however, is not in question: A player is not on the 53-man roster until it's finalized in early September. So who’s in? And who’s in trouble?
Position: Defensive line.
On the roster: Chris Baker, Corey Crawford, Kedric Golston, Ziggy Hood, Matt Ioannidis, Ricky Jean-Francois, Anthony Lanier, Trent Murphy, Stephen Paea, Jerrell Powe and Kendall Reyes.
Likely to make the 53: Baker, Golston, Jean-Francois, Paea, Reyes, Murphy and Ioannidis.
I’ve got seven D-linemen making the cut, but that number is not set in stone. The Redskins did, however, keep seven at the final cutdown each the past two seasons.
Baker is a lock to start and figures to lead all linemen in snaps again this season. As for the jobs vacated by Jason Hatcher and Terrance Knighton? Those will be claimed in Richmond.
I’d anticipate Golston, the longest tenured and oldest Redskins player at 33, to lock down a job. In OTAs and minicamp, he was the primary nose tackle, though some other position-flexible linemen rotated in (at a position that’s increasingly going the way of the fullback). On a hilarious side note, Golston recently was surprised with a customized burgundy and gold rocking chair left in front of his locker stall at Redskins Park.
I’d also expect Paea, Reyes and Jean Francois to compete for significant roles. How significant? The Week 1 pecking order will be determined in camp and the preseason.
Reyes, a newcomer to the group, and Jean-Francois, a reliable veteran and an emerging leader, each enjoyed a productive spring. Defensive coordinator Joe Barry has also said he’s got high hopes for Paea to bounce back from an uneven 2015. Paea told CSN recently that he’s healthy and much more comfortable in the scheme this year, his second in Washington. He did, however, miss the final two weeks of the offseason program while tending to a personal matter.
Rounding out the unit will likely be Murphy, who’s transitioning from outside linebacker to end, and Ioannidis, a versatile fifth round rookie who’s getting up to speed.
Battling for a job: Hood, Lanier, Crawford and Powe.
Admittedly, this is a tough position to handicap after being permitted to watch only a handful of practices in shorts and helmets this spring. But we know this much: there doesn’t seem to be much wiggle room here, if any at all.
One player to keep an eye on is Hood, who, of course, has first round pedigree, having been selected by the Steelers 32nd overall in 2009. He’s bounced around the past few years, but the 29-year-old enjoyed a productive spring. Can he make a push in Richmond? We’ll see beginning July 28.