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Looking ahead: Predicting the Redskins’ 2016 depth chart

Oct 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

Redskins-huddle-vs.-Eagles

During the Redskins’ bye week we’re taking a look ahead at the 2016 version of the Redskins. We’ve looked at the pending free agents and at the salary cap and what adjustments can be made. Now it’s time to take out the crystal ball and see what the depth chart will look like when they line up next September.

(Starter changes from 2015 are in bold)

Quarterback: Kirk Cousins
Backups: Colt McCoy, draft pick

Sure, things can go south in the next nine games but right now the best bet is that Cousins remains the starting quarterback. I think they have to draft a quarterback; the only question is if they take one on Friday (rounds 2-3) or Saturday (rounds 4-7).

Running backs: Matt Jones
Backups: Chris Thompson, free agent, draft pick

When all is said and done, I think that Alfred Morris ends up leaving town and signing with a team that is more committed to the zone-blocking scheme. It also looks like Darrel Young could be headed out and the team will operate without a fullback. Assuming Jones can refine his rushing technique over the last nine games, he inherits the “lead dog” mantle. Thompson is a solid third-down back. Look for them to add a bargain veteran free agent and/or a Saturday draft pick to the mix.

Wide receivers: Pierre Garçon, first-round draft pick
Backups: Jamison Crowder (slot receiver), Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross

Yeah, I’ve spent the top draft pick already. With DeSean Jackson gone since he doesn’t fit into what Scot McCloughan is looking for in a veteran player, they need a big threat at wide receiver. To take a preliminary stab at it six months out, I’ll go with 6-2 Laquon Treadwell out of Ole Miss. Unlike Jackson, Garçon has the work ethic that McCloughan wants to keep around as an example to younger players. Crowder is the slot receiver for the foreseeable future.

Tight end: Jordan Reed
Backups: Niles Paul, Derek Carrier

The only good thing about the ankle injury that Paul suffered is that it was in the preseason opener, so he will have plenty of time to rehab. Reed will be going into his contract year and staying healthy will be of paramount importance for both him and for the team.

Offensive line: LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Spencer Long, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses
Backups: G Arie Kouandjio, T Ty Nsekhe, 1-2 draft picks

I’m not 100 percent sure that Long can be an NFL starting center but he is probably the most immediate replacement for Kory Lichtensteiger, who would be better off in a zone scheme. The rest of the group can stay intact and continue to gel.

Defensive line: Trent Murphy, Terrance Knighton, Chris Baker
Backups: Ricky Jean Francois, Stephen Paea, Frank Kearse

The unit gets a needed injection of youth with Murphy packing on a few more pounds and converting to end. Knighton re-signs for two or three years.

Linebackers: OLBs Junior Galette, Ryan Kerrigan; ILBs Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson
Backups: Preston Smith, Will Compton, Jackson Jeffcoat, Houston Bates

I’m not sure what to think of Riley’s future. He has a year left on his contract and his stock still seems to be pretty high within the organization. But Will Compton does a good job when he fills in and there could be a replacement in the draft or in free agency. Joe Barry will work to design ways to get Smith, Kerrigan, and Galette (who I think returns on an incentive-loaded deal) into the game at the same time.

Defensive backs: CBs Bashaud Breeland, Chris Culliver; SS Kyshoen Jarrett, FS Dashon Goldson
Backups: Trenton Robinson, Jeron Johnson, Quinton Dunbar, 2-3 draft picks/free agents

The starting corners are an easy call while the rest of the picture is murky. Goldson likely would have to agree to a renegotiated contract that would considerably lower his $8 million 2016 salary. If he doesn’t, I don’t see him staying but that leaves a hole at free safety that could perhaps be filled in the free agent market. Do things click for Jeron Johnson, allowing him to play a regular role? Does Jarrett return to safety, the position he was drafted to play? Or do they keep a good thing going and leave him in the slot? Do rookie free agents Dunbar and Deshazor Everett show enough promise that the team will bypass a late-round project in the draft?

Specialists: K Dustin Hopkins, LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way

Hopkins came out of nowhere to become the best kicker in recent memory, although we’re looking at a small sample size. Way is getting better at refining his craft and could have some Pro Bowls in his future.

  1. princewilks - Oct 30, 2015 at 12:25 PM

    Rich,

    I noticed you didnt list Martrell Spaight on the ILB depth chart for next year. Do you not think the team will keep him? I mean, considering he’s a special teams grinder and looks very promising as a ILB as well, I would think they’d keep him and especially since we don’t want to throw away a 5th rounder just a year later.

    • troylok - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:01 PM

      I agree. I think there were a few guys on IR that were ignored.

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Oct 30, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    Does Jarrett return to safety, the position he was drafted to play? Or do they keep a good thing going and leave him in the slot?
    ============

    Don’t mess with success!
    ~

    • berniebernard666 - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:27 PM

      I agree that you don’t mess with success but the Redskins have a history of changing players positions and switching people around and with zero success I might add. So hopefully Scott M will come to the rescue in the offseason. keep Jarret at slot, and go after Eric Berry or Eric Weddle because both of FREE AGENTS and one of them or both will likely not be franchised. There is also the OUTSIDE chance that Scott M trades for Kam Chancellor because he is going to be even more unhappy with his 2016 salary, so keep an eye on that. Eric Weddle and Kam Chancellor with Culliver and Breeland would comprise a SERIOUS secondary.

  3. bangkokben - Oct 30, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    I’m seeing draft picks used on the front seven as well as the defensive backfield. Of course there is money to spend too. It goes without saying that this is premature but it is ‘nice’ to see possible solutions already on the roster. I can also see perhaps bringing back Duke Ihenacho for some depth or even try the D Hall move to FS and let Goldson play SS.

  4. troylok - Oct 30, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    Wow, no love for Silas Redd returning from injury? I don’t get the Goldson love, either. Assuming Kirk Cousins continues to gel, I could see the Redskins taking a safety with the first pick and hopefully shut the door on the merry-go-round that has been the safety position.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Oct 30, 2015 at 12:55 PM

      There is Jalen Ramsey, and then everyone else.

      Of course that could change by 2016…but right now, it seems like Ramsey is a top 10 pick, and no one else seems to belong in there before the last of the 1st round, at best.
      ~

      • bangkokben - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:08 PM

        Skins are in a group with now seven teams with 3-4 record. Before Dolphins loss, the Skins were picking 12th or 13th (tied with Bills in strength of schedule (.556) but the Eagles are picking 17th with the same record but a strength of schedule of (.609). The Dolphins now join that mix. Their SOS was .325 before losing to the 7-0 Patriots. So it is likely that the team will be picking outside the top ten this year – especially when you consider that the teams with worse records are: Detroit, Baltimore, Tennessee, Houston, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego, Dallas, Chicago, and Tampa Bay.

        • skinsgame - Oct 31, 2015 at 5:38 AM

          What the heck happened to KC??

    • goback2rfk - Oct 30, 2015 at 8:50 PM

      Amen brother. Amen.

      • troylok - Oct 30, 2015 at 9:00 PM

        I’d be happy with that pick.

  5. redskins40 - Oct 30, 2015 at 2:29 PM

    Rich, I like mike Williams out of Clemson at wide receiver I thank the best in this class of 2016 what you thank??

    • Rich Tandler - Oct 30, 2015 at 3:00 PM

      Have seen some good things about him, but isn’t he injured? Lots of question.

  6. renhoekk2 - Oct 30, 2015 at 4:46 PM

    They are not going to win many games solely on the arm of Cousins. They need to go defense first round, not WR. I would rather stomach another season of Jackson without eating any money and then let him walk for free in 2017. Yes he’s not the ideal veteran WR, but you could do a lot worse. Ask Chip Kelly. McCloughin setup SF and SEA by getting top 5 defenses in place. Both SF and SEA went to SB without great WR corps. That is the blueprint. They need a stud DB and stud ILB more than they need to shed the roster of DJax.

    • berniebernard666 - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:44 PM

      I agree completely and can’t understand why Rich would think that Scott M is going to make the same mistakes that Vinnie and Dan have made by drafting the sexy pick in the 1st round.

      Scott M drafted or encouraged drafting DEFENSE with both Seattle and San Francisco. So after drafting an offensive player, a SAFE offensive lineman in 2015, it is going to be quite shocking if the Redskins 1st pick next spring is anything less than a Defensive Lineman or even Safety if Jalen Ramsey is available.

      • Rich Tandler - Oct 30, 2015 at 6:06 PM

        First, I can’t believe people are getting hot and bothered about a draft pick that won’t be made for six months.

        Second, in seven drafts with the Niners, McCloughan drafted a QB, a tight end, and a wide receiver in the first round. So I’m not sure where you get that he would have an aversion to drafting a wide receiver.

        Edit: I should have added that McCloughan would have snapped up Amari Cooper if he had lasted until the fifth pick last April.

        • voice4thefans - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:45 PM

          McCloughan would have took exactly who he took wasting a 5th round pick on a guard

        • mjthomas85 - Nov 2, 2015 at 10:35 AM

          I agree with Rich that a WR is possible for the first pick. However, it all depends on what is available.

          If they let A. Roberts and D. Jackson walk, then they need to sign a starting caliber WR. This could be done through the draft or free agency. Starting caliber free agent WRs aren’t cheap, so the draft is where I would go. Also, the free agent pool might have better depth/options at DB, DT, or OL than anything else. It just depends on how free agency, the draft, and the rest of the season turnout.

    • voice4thefans - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:38 PM

      Why not Cousins have a pretty good arm

    • voice4thefans - Oct 30, 2015 at 8:00 PM

      DJax.is the hardest working WR on the team , just ask Ross who Jackson was molding and working with the whole summer, and it is not all Scott’s call who is on this team Gruden Have just as much if not more input than Scott because he do say who play and who do not play, So you Have 1 Snyder 2 Allen and than McCloughin and Gruden so please stop all this Scott this and Scott that because it really sound totally ridiculous, Really Scott is more like a consultant .

      • goback2rfk - Oct 30, 2015 at 8:44 PM

        Desean Jackson is a goner dude. He is a one trick pony, injury prone, salary cap killer. The man runs into a sled on his FIRST play of 1 on 1 drills last summer and is out almost all of August. The man blows a hammy on his FIRST deep ball of the regular season and is out over half the year. Sure he is a good player but Jackson is a liability at the WR position. They can save 8 mil on the cap if they cut him. Bye Jackson the “King of the 8 week Hammy.”

      • Rich Tandler - Oct 31, 2015 at 5:54 AM

        Jackson is not the hardest working WR on the team. He was the least hard working this past offseason and it’s not even close.

        And McCloughan is not a consultant, he has final say on the 53-man roster. When it comes to player personnel, he decides. He consults with the coach but the final call is his.

        Other than that, good comment.

  7. hk2000 - Oct 30, 2015 at 4:50 PM

    No one can really argue with any of it- but it’s way too early, which makes me think you too are giving up on the season. Lots of articles implying a futile season this year an looking too far ahead, so why are they playing then? and while we’re making next year predictions, why should we expect them to stick with the same coaching staff?

    • Rich Tandler - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:01 PM

      As noted, it’s because it’s the bye week. Just a little fun speculation, sorry. You may revert to your sour mood.

      • hk2000 - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:46 PM

        Sorry Rich, but all day today I’ve been reading nonsense from fans who want the team to give up on the next game and just lay down, rest the starters and such, it’s like there has been a prevailing mindset of accepting defeat and mediocrity, and this article struck the same chord- That’s all.

  8. Omar Shinaishin - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:08 PM

    Wow was this bad! So basically you’re saying we are going to only get one new starter.

    1. There’s no way we are drafting a mediocre WR in the first over a shutdown defender.

    2. There’s no way we are sticking with Perry Riley Jr.

    3. There’s no way Murphy is going to mold into a DE.

    Please try again. Thank you.

    • voice4thefans - Oct 30, 2015 at 7:41 PM

      You are 100% correct on all your points especially Perry Riley Jr he is a out right bum

    • goback2rfk - Oct 30, 2015 at 8:46 PM

      Safety! Safety! Draft a good Safety first please! please!

      • john - Nov 4, 2015 at 5:38 PM

        If there is a quality safety that is there and should be drafted at that pick. No need to take a guy in the first round that really should wait until the third round. We might end up missing out on a quality corner or lineman or running back. You don’t draft based on need unless your loaded to begin with.

        • goback2rfk - Nov 4, 2015 at 6:45 PM

          The way things are going we wont be picking anywhere near the top. Probably midway. There are a lot of shitty teams this year. If we go 7 – 9 like some think we will that wont be a high pick in the draft. We have ignored the safety position forever and its time to sure that position up.
          Good corner-backs can be found much later in the draft. Breeland was drafted in the 4th round right? Great lineman are found all day long later in the draft. RB’s are a dime a dozen. There are free agent RB’s right now that are comparable to who we have if not better. You always draft based on need. Is not what we did with Rg3. Is not that why we drafted a linemen 5th overall last year? What you don’t do is draft based on what you don’t need.

    • alamuddin2013 - Nov 3, 2015 at 10:25 AM

      1. I disagree I think WR might be the biggest need by season’s end
      2. Agree with you there. we need a MLB Badly!
      3. Also agree with Murphy and even if he did morph into a DE he would be terrible at it.

  9. berniebernard666 - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    kckd

    • berniebernard666 - Oct 30, 2015 at 5:17 PM

      Hit the wrong buttons above..please ignore.

      Regarding Trent Murphy, I don’t see him ever being an impact player at Defensive End so he will never be successful there. He is good a stuffing the run and already an experienced linebacker so why not put Murphy into the middle as an INSIDE linebacker. Then draft a D.E. with that 1st pick to replace Hatcher.

      The Redskins have no PRO BOWL players on defense right now. That should alert you that the #1 pick needs to be a Defensive player. Either safety, linebacker, or D.E. That makes the most sense to me. Pro Bowl D..E. along with Baker and Pot Roast with Robinson and Murphy in the middle would allow the Skins to bolster that run defense. We don’t need Murphy at Outlinebacker with Smith, Galette, and Kerrigan so it just makes sense to move Trent to the inside where he can utilize his run defense skills.

      • goback2rfk - Oct 30, 2015 at 8:48 PM

        The only pick that makes sense first is a Safety plain and simple. Safety! Safety!! Safety!!!

  10. skinsgame - Oct 31, 2015 at 5:46 AM

    The ILB spots… I hope to see new blood where Riley’s been. I have doubts that Trent Murphy gets moved. He isn’t strong enough to play on the line of scrimmage in a 3-4. Added Weight or not. He’ll get pushed around all day.

    • Rich Tandler - Oct 31, 2015 at 8:40 AM

      To be clear, I’m not a big Riley fan. But I get the impression that the organization doesn’t see any urgency to upgrade there. Certainly, that could change.

  11. colmac69 - Oct 31, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    First of if anyone thinks scott m is merely a consultant has completely lost the plot

    I agree with point about sea/San Francisco going to superbowl with stong defences and strong running game with decent at best receivers

    Who knows what we will do in six months….we could b picking top 10 or bottom 10

    Rich was merely speculating how he thinks team could possible look like nxt season…something different to discuss since its the bye wk

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