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Need to Know: Who could be a surprise starter for the 2015 Redskins?

May 19, 2015, 5:04 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, May 19, 72 days before the Washington Redskins open training camp in Richmond, VA.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Good question but let’s expand it a bit. Let’s look at a few players in addition to Compton who could be surprise starters in 2015. Here are some players who have a chance at surprising some and earning a starting job at some point during the season.

Will Compton at Jack linebacker—Perry Riley was a favorite of Jim Haslett’s after being the first defensive draft pick after Haslett became defensive coordinator. Riley played nearly all of the snaps when healthy despite some issues in pass coverage. Now Joe Barry is in charge and the position could undergo some changes. It will not be easy for Compton to unseat Riley, who has 54 NFL starts under his belt to five for Compton. But there is a better chance for real competition there than there has been and Compton could have a chance.

Arie Kouandjio at left guard—I think that most would be surprised if Spencer Long didn’t beat out Chris Chester for the starting job at left guard but the Redskins’ fourth-round pick pushing Shawn Lauvao to the bench would be a shocker. They like Kouandjio a lot and it’s easy to see him quickly becoming a favorite of Bill Callahan’s and being given a legitimate shot at a job. Of the players looked at in this post Kouandjio is probably the longest shot because he has a lot to learn regarding technique and fundamentals. But if he is a fast learner he could get a shot.

Jamison Crowder at slot receiver—There has been so much praise heaped on Crowder by coaches, Scot McCloughan, and by many of us who saw him in action during the rookie camp on Saturday that it would almost be a surprise if Crowder didn’t beat out Andre Roberts. He runs smooth routes, has solid hands and looks prepared and poised on the field. It’s far from automatic, however, that a rookie will be able to push aside the five-year veteran. But it should be fun watching him try.

David Amerson at cornerback—Can it be a surprise if the guy who started 15 games at a position one year starts there again the next season? I think it would qualify in Amerson’s case since many have written him off after a poor 2014 performance and the free agent acquisition of Chris Culliver. But I am hearing talk that Amerson now realizes that he has to spend more time in the film room and take preparation more seriously. If he does that he has the physical talent to be a solid starter. He could push Bashaud Breeland to safety or slot corner and move into his old (?) job on the outside.


—It’s been 142 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 117 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 28; Redskins training camp starts 72; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 128

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. abanig - May 19, 2015 at 5:18 AM

    I hear you on Amerson, but I think Breeland will prove to be better than him again and if DHall returns he will be better than Amerson as well.

    I believe Amerson’s future is at free safety. When coming out in the 2013 NFL draft, many scouts believed Amerson’s best position in the NFL would be free safety, not corner. I know I for one was disappointed when the Redskins didn’t try Amerson at free safety as a rookie. When watching Amerson last season, my thoughts were just confirmed even more. Amerson plays better when things are in front of him, he also is a solid tackler and willing hitter. He has the size to play FS, I think the transition should start this offseason. Now, Amerson will have a former pro bowl FS to learn from in Dashon Goldson so, it makes sense for him to make the switch.

    • captblood3000 - May 19, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      If anything, free safety will require Amerson to study and prepare even more than he has at cornerback, since he will need to understand everyone’s assignments, not just his own.

      We’ll see if the Redskins try Amerson, Breeland or Hall at free safety. They have no apparent succession plan there. They passed on several FS prospects on in rounds 6 and 7, including two (Anthony Harris and Durrell Eskridge) that Rich profiled.

      • abanig - May 19, 2015 at 8:44 AM

        Amerson seems to play better when things are In front of him or when he’s in man to man. If he has to play a zone where he has to pass a wr off to someone up and then pick up anther wr, that’s when he gets in trouble.

        If he’s playing FS, things will be in front of him. I think he can learn and develop that.

    • rtcwon - May 19, 2015 at 5:22 PM

      CB is such a more important position than FS, moving any CB to FS is dumb unless it’s an old guy who can’t play CB anyone.

      You must not have been a fan long enough to remember them trying that with Hall, only to find out he can’t play FS at all. Luckily, rather than retire, he changed his game, stopped relying on speed he no longer has and learned how to reroute receivers. This is why he can match up with bigger, possession guys like Dez, the Johnsons, Marshall, etc but can’t cover the little quick guys like Cruz & Jackson (before he joined us.)

      • abanig - May 19, 2015 at 6:23 PM

        Yeah, I’ve heard this fruitless article from others. FS is extremely important for the secondary. They are the qb of the secondary and call out the plays. They tell others signals and calls to make adjustments and they are the last line of defense.

        W/o a good FS you get burned deep often like the Redskins have a lot the past 7 years.

  2. bowlregard - May 19, 2015 at 8:37 AM

    After everything that’s been written about Crowder I’d be surprised if he didn’t win that slot receiver role.

    • abanig - May 19, 2015 at 8:42 AM

      He’s the media darling. They pick someone every year based off of how they look in shorts.

      I believe Roberts will be the slot WR and Grant will challenge him for that spot more than Crowder.

      I think Crowder will be #5 and the punt returner.

      • MR Redskin - May 19, 2015 at 9:09 AM

        I don’t know why you think crowder does not have a legitimate shoot at starting.Roberts was not a factor last year,his hands looked ok at best and he was not explosive after the catch.Grant could make a push but also lacks the explosion and elusiveness needed to catch short passes and turn them in to big gains.I don’t know if u have watched film on crowder but he he is absolute monster.He looked like a man amongst boys at rookie camp.So yes has a strong case against two guys who do not have the skill set he has and the coaches and g.m agree.

        • abanig - May 19, 2015 at 10:38 AM

          When Cousins was the Qb, Roberts was a lot better. Roberts had 21 of his 36 receptions in the 6.5 games that Cousins was the starter.

          I want Griffin to start, but neither Griffin nor McCoy found Roberts in the middle of the field as much as Cousins did.

      • ET - May 19, 2015 at 9:31 AM

        Crowder is definitely a media darling, but Roberts was a huge disappointment last year. Andre’s drop rate was atrocious. He’ll need to step it up to retain his position (and he’s smart enough to know it).

        Grant is solid, and he seems to make very few mistakes. But coaches will be tempted by Crowder’s big play potential.

        • bowlregard - May 19, 2015 at 11:11 AM

          I wonder to what extent Roberts struggled because it was a new position. Or that he might be ill-suited for the slot role. Crowder might be more in the mold of a Welker or Edelman, and so could prove to be more effective there.

  3. ET - May 19, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    Compton is a good guy, but he’s not the full-time answer across from Keenan. The Skins simply need better talent at this position. The run coverage is good, and will be better this year thanks to the D-line additions and Smith/Murphy’s presence. It’s pass coverage and penetration that needs help at the Jack position.

    • abanig - May 19, 2015 at 10:11 AM

      I think the Skins should use both Riley & Compton.

      Riley on 1st downs & on short yardage and Compton in obvious passing situations. Riley is also a good blitzer. If he’s going to be on the field in passing situations, they should blitz him more often than not right in the A gaps. I really like everything Keenan does but because Riley is so poor in zone coverage, I’d never blitz Keenan unless they are blitzing both ILBs up the A gaps

      • bowlregard - May 19, 2015 at 11:15 AM

        Of course, teams play nickel and dime more than half the time anymore. Plus, it’s likely that the Skins will have more push from the line than in the past. I can see them, and other teams, playing two strong safeties and one ILB on a number of occasions during a game. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the Skins carry five safeties, three of them strong safeties. JJ might start, but the others will play a lot.

        • abanig - May 19, 2015 at 12:02 PM

          I agree. I’d like to see Thomas, Jerron Johnson and Goldson on the field together some of the Redskins are protecting a lead instead of seeing Riley on the field.

          I think Akeem Davis should make the team as he did last year because he’s a special teams ace.

        • ET - May 19, 2015 at 1:42 PM

          I wouldn’t mind the hybrid safety / linebacker role (or extra safety, if you prefer)—I love it conceptually—but I’m not convinced the team has the personnel to pull it off yet.

        • abanig - May 19, 2015 at 1:53 PM

          It doesn’t have to be any specific 225 – 230 pound safety. If it’s to get better coverage, it can be Phillip Thomas.

  4. dcwun - May 19, 2015 at 9:30 AM

    We heard the same thing about Amerson last year. Either you are a hard worker or you aren’t. He obviously isn’t since he has done so since he’s been here. If getting burned every week last season didn’t make him realize he needed to watch more film and study more then I don’t know what will. He’s shown who he is and deserves to be the 4th CB that he currently is.

    • bowlregard - May 19, 2015 at 11:18 AM

      With the new coaches and the new attitude on campus, perhaps Amerson will respond. Some are self-starters, others need to be inspired. Perhaps Amerson will get football religion this offseason. Too soon to write him off.

      • ceetown22 - May 19, 2015 at 5:20 PM

        I agree. taking the wait and see approach as he was a Second round pick

  5. bangkokben - May 19, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    Of any of the guys mentioned, Amerson seems the likeliest to me. I don’t think it will happen but with new coaches and new systems, the guys on that were on the bottom before start back on the bottom. Guys who were drafted in the top rounds start at the top.

  6. rtcwon - May 19, 2015 at 5:25 PM

    Compton at RT would be a surprise to most.

    • ET - May 19, 2015 at 6:29 PM

      If Compton starts at RT, we’ve got issues.

      • abanig - May 19, 2015 at 6:50 PM

        Wrong Compton guys. Will Compton the ILB is who Richbis talking about, not Tom Compton the RT who didn’t give up a sack agains the NFCE sack leader last year – Conor Barwin. Archives

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