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Looking ahead: Redskins 2016 depth chart projection, defense

Jan 14, 2016, 12:00 PM EDT


It’s time to take a look ahead and see what the Redskins’ depth chart might look like on opening day of 2016. Here is a look at the defense; go here to read the post on the offensive depth chart.

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

Jason Hatcher talked about retiring and as he carries an $8.7 million cap number the team might not try to persuade him to stay. Instead they get Trent Murphy into the weight room and add about 15 pounds and covert him into a (still somewhat undersized) end. Golston’s return is iffy. Although his leadership and locker room presence is valued he could be replaced by a younger free agent or a draft pick.

Linebackers: OLBs Junior Galette, Ryan Kerrigan; ILBs Perry Riley, Will Compton
Backups: Preston Smith, Mason Foster, Martrell Spaight, Houston Bates

I’m putting Riley in there in pencil and, of course, Galette needs to be re-signed. Riley missed a total of eight games including the last six of the season after he broke his foot. Foster did a good job filling in for him after being signed off of the street after the season started and if he’s back they may move on from Riley. Smith will get plenty of playing time if he continues to improve.

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

This is assuming that Culliver, who suffered a torn ACL and a torn MCL in practice on Thanksgiving Day, will be ready for the opener. Goldson may need to trim down his $7.5 million salary for 2016; perhaps he will take some guaranteed money (there is none of that left; the Bucs paid all of it before the trade) in exchange for a lower salary. The big question here is if they will be confident going into 2016 with backups who spent some time on the roster this year, players like Dashaun Phillips and Deshazor Everett, or if they will shop the free agent market and the draft.

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

Hopkins came out of nowhere to become a solid kicker. Way is getting better at refining his craft and could have some Pro Bowls in his future.

  1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 14, 2016 at 12:07 PM

    Was our running game liability more due to MILB problems, those and D.L. problems, or the whole thing, Rich?

    • rtcwon - Jan 14, 2016 at 2:35 PM

      I’m not Rich but if he or anyone else has a simple answer – stop what you’re doing and please report to Ashburn!

      Early in the season the coaches were saying they were playing the run good but one guy would lose his gap control resulting in a big play. Take out the long runs and they played it well is what the coaches publicly said. But there are no mulligans so you got to fix the big plays first, I think with better safety play.

      That said, it is more complex and hopefully they work on all components.

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 14, 2016 at 4:47 PM

        Saw this from Mike Jones of the WaPo:
        The Redskins did a good job of pressuring Rodgers early in the game. Through the middle of the second quarter, he had completed only one of eight pass attempts. From that point on, he caught fire, but not because he had all day to throw. Green Bay went with a no-huddle attack that picked up the pace and got the ball out of Rodgers’s hands because his line couldn’t hold off the Redskins.

        The pace of the game kept the Redskins from being able to substitute defensively, and that wore those big guys down. And as fatigue set in, the Redskins struggled to stop the run. The Packers’ tactics helped remind everyone of Washington’s need to get younger and faster up front this offseason.
        Seems right on the money.

  2. bk70 - Jan 14, 2016 at 2:18 PM

    I sure hope they use a draft pick on a DL. Lot of youngsters on the 2015 practice squad or under reserve/future contracts for 2016.
    I’m not buying Trent Murphy as a full time DL no matter how much weight he may add.

    Has it occurred to all that the 2016 draft picks will be used as an upgrade to any current player or position rather than filling a critical need compared to previous years.

    • rtcwon - Jan 14, 2016 at 2:46 PM

      Expecting or needing a rookie to start is a sign of a bad team.

      Good teams never go into the draft with critical needs.

      Good teams trying to be contenders don’t count on rookies for anything but pleasant surprises if they are able to beat out their current starters. I think we are in this category.

      • bk70 - Jan 14, 2016 at 3:12 PM

        I’m sorry, but when any rookie is selected in the first 40 picks, he’s expected to become a starter almost immediately. Look at the salaries and guarantees for the top 10. Yes, the veterans are looking over their shoulder when a first rounder comes aboard.

        • rtcwon - Jan 14, 2016 at 3:54 PM

          I disagree. Top 10 guys start because they are being selected by bad teams. And the majority of them still never meet expectations.

          And I’ll argue the vast majority of all draft picks never meet expectations if the expectation is anything more than contributing in some way for the next five years.

          The draft is a crap shot and needs to be considered found money for fun times, not in the budget to pay bills.

      • renhoekk2 - Jan 14, 2016 at 4:24 PM

        At certain positions I agree with you. Some positions are more difficult to make the jump from NCAA to NFL. But at DL a first round pick should be able to become a starter at some point during the season. Maybe not a day 1 starter but at some point, and until he gets to that point he should be a regular rotational player. If you draft a guy in the first round and he’s not getting on the field too often his first year, then you blew the pick.

    • firesnyder - Jan 14, 2016 at 3:40 PM

      Agree with bk70. I think our first pick of the draft is a defensive end. We need a Hatcher replacement even if he plays. There will be some good ones in the draft at the 21st pick. I really hope our second pick is a versatile center/guard type. I don’t think the combo of Lichtenstieger/LeRibeus is anywhere near good enough. Two things hurt our running game this year:
      1) Lack of a solid blocking tight end
      2) Lichtensteiger being hurt/unproductive
      3) Alf losing a step
      We need to, at least, partially address this in the 2nd/3rd/4th rounds of the draft.

      I’m kinda all over the place with this post, but here is what I think we need in this order:
      1) Defensive end to replace Hatcher and just be better than Hatcher
      2) Another really good cornerback or safety
      3) A big nasty center or versatile center/guard
      4) A big wideout
      5) A solid blocking tight end
      6) Another Running back
      …. hopefully, a few of these needs can be resolved in free agency.

      Also, was Knighton good enough to resign? He probably was and I think we are kinda forced into resigning him. Hopefully, its not too big of a deal or for too long.

      • ET - Jan 14, 2016 at 5:42 PM

        Knighton did a decent job. Not as well as some projections, granted, but a real NT seems to help that base defense. Nose tackles don’t get big numbers, especially a guy who’s main function is to fill gaps and create mismatches that favor the rest of the front seven. Knighton’s main problem appears to be conditioning (shocker, right?). I think he should be resigned.

      • T - Jan 14, 2016 at 7:51 PM

        Can’t get that many impactful players in a single draft. Can’t get a starting DE, starting CB, starting C as rookies. I vote for a RB in the first round or FS.

      • ch - Jan 15, 2016 at 12:23 AM

        100% agree w this post

  3. rtcwon - Jan 14, 2016 at 2:20 PM

    The offense is fairly certain; only debatable decisions being DJax, Garcon, RB, LG, QB2 & back up OL.

    But the defense is all over the map. Other than Swaggy, Comp, Kerrigan, Cully & Breeland, everything is pretty much up in the air. For example my starting safeties are not even on Rich’s team. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out and in the mean time, it is fun to guess! So here goes mine:

    (Jersey numbers are much easier to type than names; if you don’t know numbers, how do you watch the games, much less have an opinion on them?)

    DL – 92, 90, 99 are under contract and back for sure. My best guess at the other four is re-sign 98 & 64, 95 from PS & a new kid. I know most have been trying to cut 64 for five years now but until someone else is able to replace his roles on teams, mainly lead blocker on kick return (formally know as the wedge) he’s back. To me, 98 is more uncertain. Powe is intriguing but needs to be much more consistent to push his way into the mix. This unit as a whole needs an infusion of young talent but that is easier said than done.

    ILB – 51, 56, 54, 50, 55. I think they’ll role with this group, invest elsewhere this year and circle back if needed next year. 56 is under contract and played much better next to Comp so unless an upgrade falls into their laps, I don’t see him being cut.

    OLB – 58, 91, 94 & new kid. This group was the biggest weakness this year and as impactful I hope 58 to be, they still need more than that and Smith’s progression that I’m counting on. As much as I like 96 and think 48 may be next year’s pre-season wonder, they need more. Someone who won’t allowed to be blocked one on one.

    CB – 29, 26, 47, 22 & new kid. 22 was almost stellar on teams and combined with his flexibility to fill in at safety, he’s back until I see something better. 35 was good enough on teams to get a shot at playing his way on but will need to really improve. 41 showed he’s a serviceable injury replacement if not scoped up elsewhere but nothing more. Rodgers is also out there and may get an invite. Hopefully there’s enough competition that CB3, 4 & 5 are not predictable until a few weeks into pre-season but this is how I see it now.

    S – 24 & 23 or 38 or FA are my starters. 24 was night and day better than anyone else back there and since I don’t believe previous injures make anyone more likely than anyone else to be injured, I ink him in. 30 & 20 are on the team for sure but 20 showed he is pretty much a teams only guy. He can fill in at safety to finish a game but no way do you want to go into a game with him starting. 30 isn’t ready to start and I’m not sure he’ll ever be a starting safety on a good defense. That said he is very good on teams, excels as a hook guy in zone and despite being replaced this year as a slot corner, hopefully can improve enough there to win back at least the back up role. I think either 23 or 38 comes back more for leadership than play on the field so hopefully as a back up. 38 has no dead money so his $8M is as fake as RGIII’s $16M. (Yup, $24M cap savings and no dead money with those two certain cuts. Granted most will go to Kirk but that’s still a lot left over.) Once he is cut and his actual market value is established, then they’ll decide between him and 23 but I still give DHall the edge. While some would like to trade for Kam, I would love to see Weddle back there until 30 or another kid is ready.

    Upon review, there will be much more turn over than my current guesses but since we don’t get to see practice tape, I like to see pre-season games before I just start penciling in unknown kids.

    • bangkokben - Jan 14, 2016 at 5:09 PM

      What a mess! Having said that you do have some good points for instance the value of Kedric Golston.

  4. troylok - Jan 14, 2016 at 2:23 PM

    I disagree with beefing up Murphy and having him play end. If Barry wanted to put in a true 4-3 defense, that would make sense, but Murphy is not strong enough or big enough. Maybe they should just trade him if Gallette comes back strong because that would put three more athletic OLB’s in front of him (jury is still out on Bates) and he’d not get so much playing time. I see some mock drafts have Washington taking a defensive tackle with the first pick but I would prefer they re-sign Knighton and focus on safety with that number one pick.

    • babyteal1 - Jan 14, 2016 at 2:33 PM

      ILB with the first pick.

    • rtcwon - Jan 14, 2016 at 2:37 PM

      Yup, I don’t think Murphy could ever “bulk up” enough to be 4-3 end, much less a 3-4 end.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 14, 2016 at 3:06 PM

      I’m almost certain that McGlue will go Best Available Player with the 1st pick.

      He’s still changing the team culture (and what a fine start). Plus it’s the smart way to go.

      And if there’s not much of a drop-off between 2nd half of the 1st round players and those projected as 2nd rounders, he will probably try to trade back.

      • kenlinkins - Jan 14, 2016 at 6:14 PM

        It would not shock me one bit to see him trade down our first round pick in order to gain extra picks. If some one like Treadwell falls to the 21st pick there might be a lot of interest from teams in the 26 to 32 range and that would give us an extra 3rd and 6th round pick for dropping back just 6 or 7 spots. You could find CB’s like Redmond (Miss St) with the 3rd and maybe White (Ga Tech) with the 6th to go along with our 8 picks. That would be very smart if he can pull it off.

        • Tramell - Jan 14, 2016 at 7:40 PM


    • cm - Jan 15, 2016 at 12:29 AM

      murphy is vastly underrated and exemplifies the kind of identity SM is trying to forge / AND at the very least he is something we arent used to: affordable high quality depth

  5. scottmccloughanfan - Jan 14, 2016 at 5:43 PM

    With MURPHY potentially moving to DE, I believe the REDSKINS should take a 1st round DL in this draft to replace GOLSTON.

    Of course, the FA KNIGHTON should be resigned,

    At LB sign OLB GALLETT, and ILB’s COMPTON, and FOSTER as well.

    With SPAIGHT recovered, RILEY stays.

    One FA should be had at OLB if MURPHY is moved.

    HEYWARD and ROBINSON should walk.

    Both a DB FA and pick wouldn’t hurt. We should go all in on BERRY.

    IHENACHO should be signed if a top S is not obtained.

    BLACKMON should walk.

    On teams, sign YOUNG and WAY now.

    • bangkokben - Jan 15, 2016 at 9:31 AM

      I don’t get all the taste for Pot Roast. Sure he was solid but the guy had the highest cap hit of any 34NT last year on the Redskin’s one-year deal and he wasn’t even close to being the best NT in the league. If the choice is between paying the same for Pot Roast or getting rid of one our top two WRs, the choice isn’t even close to me. Find younger/cheaper at NT.

  6. scottmccloughanfan - Jan 14, 2016 at 5:45 PM

    CLIFTON GEATHERS is a FA this off-season.

    • John - Jan 16, 2016 at 4:47 PM

      He was here before and…he’s no Jumpy Geathers!

  7. Tramell - Jan 14, 2016 at 7:38 PM

    You forgot Ihenacho at SS. Jarrett would back him up. I hope at FS that they keep either Goldson or Hall and draft a FS to take over in 2017.
    Like the idea of making Murphy a DE. Agree that we need to draft one or two CB. Blackmon and Dunbar are not that good.

    • goback2rfk - Jan 14, 2016 at 7:41 PM

      They are not great but I like Dunbar and Blackmon or at least one of them as a backup to the backup cornerback. Dunbar showed some balls covering some of the premier receivers in one on one man coverage and held his own pretty much. I hope they keep Dunbar around way deep on the depth chart.

    • T - Jan 14, 2016 at 7:42 PM

      I mean draft a FS in 2016 who can become a starter for 2017.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 14, 2016 at 9:12 PM

      Dunbar could be awesome. He’s playing CB for the first time since H.S. You’ve got to give him more time before you say he can’t be really good.

      That said, we obviously need some DBs in this draft, especially safeties with pass coverage skills.
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