Breaking Down Washington Redskins Roster After the 2014 NFL Draft
The only potential notable changes to starting lineups are likely to occur along the offensive line. A pair of third-round picks will immediately push for playing time on the right side.
What is guaranteed to look different for the Burgundy and Gold is the rotation at a few key positions. This will be most obvious at outside linebacker and running back, where the team will make room for two intriguing prospects.
Here's how Washington's roster should look after this year's draft.
Robert Griffin III is going nowhere, and after drafting two O-linemen and three skill-position players, the team's commitment to 2012's second overall pick remains as strong as ever.
Griffin is the clear starter entering a season where he is surrounded by more weapons than he's ever had in the pros. Now it's up to him to deliver.
Kirk Cousins escaped the draft process without being traded, so he's still the resident deputy. Behind him, things are a little less clear.
Alfred Morris is still the workhorse of choice after topping 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. But 2012's draft find could give some carries to a fellow sixth-round pick this season.
Former Baylor ace Lache Seastrunk has the quickness and moves to offer the change of pace new head coach Jay Gruden clearly wants in the backfield rotation.
Gruden targeted numerous options before the draft, including Charles Sims, per ESPN.com reporter John Keim. During the draft, Washington was reportedly keen on drafting ex-Auburn sensation Tre Mason in Round 3, according to ESPN 980 reporter Chris Russell:
So it's safe to assume Gruden is not entirely sold on the idea of Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster or Chris Thompson as supplementary backs. Royster and Thompson look like endangered species after Gruden identified Seastrunk as a "great complement for Roy [Helu Jr.] and Alfred [Morris]," per CSNWashington.com reporter Tarik El-Bashir, citing the coach's interview with Comcast SportsNet.
Wide receiver is perhaps the deepest position on the roster following both free agency and the draft. Things seem clear at the top three spots, but get a little murkier further down the pecking order.
They will be supplemented by ex-Arizona Cardinals flanker Andre Roberts. He can work both inside and outside in the right scheme. Roberts should be very productive, even if he's not a main starter.
This trio gives the Washington passing game the ability to stretch defenses vertically as well as players who can make yards after the catch across the middle.
What is missing is a natural short-range outlet from the slot. This is where fifth-rounder Ryan Grant could make his mark.
Blessed with excellent hands, Grant has the right attributes to succeed from the slot. Gruden has expressed his surprise to have found Grant still on the board in Round 5, per CSNWashington.com reporter Tarik El-Bashir.
Grant's arrival could spell the end for Nick Williams and Aldrick Robinson, even though the latter was re-signed this offseason. The end also seems near for Leonard Hankerson, the 2011 third-rounder who has never played to his potential.
Greybeard Santana Moss is still around to be a threat in the red zone and a thorn in the side of the Dallas Cowboys.
Seventh-round pick Ted Bolser is the only newbie at the tight end position. The arrival of the former Indiana Hoosier shouldn't do much to alter the landscape.
Bolser seems to have been drafted more for his expertise on special teams, per Brian McNally of The Washington Times. If Bolser makes a particularly good impression here he could knock Niles Paul right off the roster altogether.
Jordan Reed will still be the starter and could enjoy a phenomenal season if he stays healthy. Logan Paulsen will continue as the blocking complement.
- Signed G Shawn Lauvao (4 years, $27 million, $4 million guaranteed)
- Signed G/C Mike McGlynn (2 years, $2.7 million, $200,000 guaranteed)
- Drafted T Morgan Moses 3rd round, 66th overall (4 years, $3.1 million, $697 K guaranteed)
- Drafted C/G Spencer Long 3rd round 78th overall (4 years, $2.87 million, $614K guaranteed)
- Released C Will Montgomery who played virtually snap for the last three seasons.
Despite the party line that everything is okay with the offensive line, this group could look a lot different post-draft. The selections of tackle Morgan Moses and guard Spencer Long in the same round indicate a potential shakeup.
Yet Gruden has told anybody who will listen that he is happy with his group up front. In late March, he endorsed the incumbent linemen, particularly right tackle Tyler Polumbus, per ESPN.com writer John Keim.
But CSNWashington.com Redskins blogger Rich Tandler maintains Gruden's actions in this area are speaking louder than his words:
That’s all right out of the coachspeak manual. Instead of looking at what Gruden said about the line, let’s take a look at what he and Bruce Allen have done:
In addition, the team made a serious run at free agent tackle Donald Penn, who would have been handed the starting right tackle job.
Tandler's view has merit. Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen have put a lot of work into tinkering with an area they are supposedly happy with.
For now, expect this season's line to feature Trent Williams at left tackle, Shawn Lauvao at left guard, Kory Lichtensteiger at center, Chris Chester at right guard (for the moment) and Moses supplanting Polumbus at tackle.
Long won't waste time putting Chester's status as starter in jeopardy, provided the rookie can avoid injury.
Starters aside, Gruden and Allen should be applauded for boosting the depth at this vital position. Moses, Long, McGlynn and Lauvao give the team plenty of potential combinations to try out this preseason.
Regular readers have probably already gotten a sense of just how happy this author is that the Redskins signed Jason Hatcher. It really was a major coup in free agency.
The underrated veteran, a truly destructive inside pass-rusher, will slot in on one side of Washington's three-man line. The other end spot should be manned by Chris Baker.
In the middle, big and bad Barry Cofield should continue to anchor things over the center. He is not always consistent, but at his best, Cofield can dominate the trenches.
He'll be better this season, one year removed from the hand injury he suffered last preseason and with superior talent around him.
Depth is interesting and potentially very strong. Stephen Bowen is still an effective veteran, but is recovering from major surgery.
The 30-year-old is also carrying a high cap figure, per Spotrac.com. Bowen could be pointed to the exit door if free agent Clifton Geathers sticks.
Washington also has Kedric Golston and inconsistent but talented youth Jarvis Jenkins to call on.
At nose tackle, 2011 seventh-round pick Chris Neil is a solid reserve, but he will be pushed by recently acquired undrafted free agent Robert Thomas.
If Hatcher lives up to his billing and Baker or Jenkins tap into some genuine consistency, this will be one of the strongest groups on the roster.
Taking Trent Murphy with the team's first pick will prove to be as smart as it was bold. The ex-Stanford man gives coordinator Jim Haslett's 3-4 scheme a terrifically versatile outside pass-rusher.
Murphy won't immediately push starters Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, but he will be an invaluable part of the sub-package defense, playing both end and standup rusher in various looks.
Kerrigan and Orakpo should deliver fine numbers this season. Hatcher and Orakpo will combine to tie one side of opposing O-lines in knots.
That should mean more one-on-one opportunities for Kerrigan. That will translate to bad news for quarterbacks.
Opportunistic deputy Rob Jackson will join Murphy to provide ample cover at a key defensive position. Murphy's arrival puts 2013 fifth-round pick Brandon Jenkins under greater pressure to impress coaches this offseason.
Things will look a lot different on the inside now that London Fletcher has called it a career. At least Allen added plenty of numbers to the position.
He signed free agents Adam Hayward, Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan. All three have tremendous experience on special teams, while Sharpton and Jordan have both started in 3-4 schemes.
Many clamored for an inside linebacker in the draft, but truthfully, there are enough bodies here to find a suitable partner for clear starter Perry Riley Jr.
Allen and Gruden are obviously content with how the roster looks at this position, as ESPN.com scribe John Keim points out:
Not only do they like Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan, they also like how Keenan Robinson has (thus far) progressed. They have a special teams guy in Adam Haywardand a young guy they can still develop in Will Compton, who showed some toughness last summer.
An early guess puts Jordan as the starter with Riley, while Hayward, Sharpton and Robinson form credible depth.
The cornerback position needed an extra body from the draft and received one in the form of fourth-round choice Bashaud Breeland. He fits the mold of last season's top choice David Amerson.
Like Amerson, Breeland is a long, physical cornerback with the frame to play press techniques on the outside. He should immediately become the team's fourth corner with the three primary starters, two outside and one nickel, coming from Amerson and veterans DeAngelo Hall and Tracy Porter.
After that, the likes of Richard Crawford and Chase Minnifield will compete to fill a roster spot. E.J. Biggers is also still around to deliver a barely passable impersonation of a pro defensive back.
Allen also added aging pro Ryan Clark and can count on the return to health of 2013 fourth-rounder Phillip Thomas, who missed his rookie campaign due to a Lisfranc injury.
Now, to be clear, this is not an endorsement of the roster's options at safety. The position is still sketchy, although relying on some veteran savvy is not a bad idea after last season.
It's safe to assume Clark and Meriweather get the starting nods, with Jackson and Thomas as the primary backups. The likes of Bacarri Rambo and Trenton Robinson will battle to stay in town.
Sooner rather than later though, this team needs to acquire a marquee playmaker at this position. Expect that to be the focus of free agency and the draft in 2015.
The fact that the team used a pick it traded for to take Zach Hocker in Round 7 indicates Kai Forbath's days as Washington's kicker are numbered.
Hocker was reportedly the favorite rookie kicker of new special teams boss Ben Kotwica, per ESPN 980 reporter Chris Russell:
#Redskins Jay Gruden says Ben Kotwicka's favorite PK was Hocker and stressed competition. Called Ted Bolsner a "war daddy" on ST's KO cover— Chris Russell (@Russellmania980) May 10, 2014
Expect Hocker to win the job. Who knows what to expect at punter? Things are very unclear after the team rightfully ditched Sav Rocca, who seemed to have a vendetta against Washington's defense last season.
Only Robert Malone and untested Blake Clingan are on the roster. Feel free to take a guess.
Overall, the special teams should be significantly stronger in coverage, given the sheer volume of players added for their skills in that area. In particular, Hayward, Sharpton, Jordan and Bolser should be major assets.
In fact, the whole roster looks deeper following solid work in both free agency and the draft. Depth at core positions, such as the trenches, outside linebacker, wide receiver and running back, is stronger.
That bodes well for Washington's 2014 season.