Skip to content

Looking at the Redskins’ roster locks going into OTAs

May 23, 2016, 11:39 AM EDT


The Redskins have the league maximum 90 players on their roster and a lot of what goes on between now and the season opener against the Steelers will be about finding out who will be on the final 53-man roster. There is plenty of talk from Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan about competition. But how much competition is there really? How many of those coveted 53 jobs are already locked up and how many are up for grabs? As OTA’s start tomorrow let’s take a look with the caveat that injuries and a truly surprising performance could change the picture for a few players.

Right now, it looks like these players are locks to make the final roster:

Offense (18)

QB (2): Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy
RB (2): Matt Jones, Chris Thompson
WR (5): Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder
TE (3): Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Vernon Davis
OL (6): Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio

Nate Sudfeld will be the third quarterback but the team might try to carry him on the practice squad rather than on the 53. Keith Marshall has to overcome a history of injuries to make it. I could have included Rashad Ross among the receiver locks but he will need to show improvement in his ability as an NFL receiver and be more than just a fast guy. Shawn Lauvao is on the bubble due to his high salary cap number ($5 million) and the injuries to his lower extremities that likely will keep him out all of the offseason and perhaps training camp. You have to consider Ty Nsekhe a solid favorite to beat out Takoby Cofield for the backup tackle job but not quite a lock. Some might see Lichtensteiger as being on the bubble but I think he stays around as a guard/center reserve even if he loses his starting job.

The Redskins are likely to keep 25 offensive players so there are seven jobs up for grabs on that side of the ball.

Defense (21)

DL (6): Stephen Paea, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Matt Ioannidis, Trent Murphy, Kendall Reyes
LB (7): Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Perry Riley, Will Compton, Mason Foster, Su’a Cravens
DB (8): Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar, DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho, David Bruton, Will Blackmon

I’m tempted to add Kedric Golston as a lock on the defensive line since he is the ultimate survivor but I’m not convinced that they will keep more than six on the D-line. As discussed here, there will be a huge battle for the remaining one or two inside linebacker spots. They kept 10 defensive backs last year but they have some versatility this year so they may carry only nine in 2016.

There are likely to be 25 defensive players on the roster so that leaves four spots open.

The three specialists on the roster, kicker Dustin Hopkins, punter Tress Way, and long snapper Nick Sundberg, are all locks.

That makes a total of 42 locks so 11 jobs are up for grabs. Who is in contention for those 11 spots? We’ll take a look tomorrow.

  1. Orlando - May 23, 2016 at 11:58 AM

    You mean Dustin hopkins right?

    • Rich Tandler - May 23, 2016 at 12:08 PM

      Yes, I fixed it. Thanks.

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 23, 2016 at 11:59 AM

    Would they risk putting Sudfield on the practice squad and having some other team sign him?

  3. abanig - May 23, 2016 at 12:05 PM

    I think Ty Nesekhe is a lock, he can play both tackle spots and he can play guard. I don’t see the practice squad types we added the last two years beating him out.

    I have Ziggy Hood beating out Golston. I agree Golston has been the intimate survivor I personally predicted him to be cut every year since 2013 but he always manages to get one of the last two spots. Hood – like Golston – has experience at every spot in this defense and a traditional two-gap defense like Haz ran from 2010-2014. Hood is not going to blow anyone’s socks off, but he’s a great run sefender and he’s usually good for a few sacks a year if he gets the playing time.

    The reason Hood got cut last year was because he hurt his foot and couldn’t play and also SenDarik Marks had solidified himself as the starting LDE for Jax moving forward.

    That being said, he’s never had Ziggy Hood type competiton for the final DL spot before. Hood was a first round pick in 2009 of the steelers, he started for their team when they went to their last super bowl and lost to Aaron Rodgers and the packers.

    • ezg1 - May 24, 2016 at 12:15 AM


      • abanig - May 24, 2016 at 4:49 AM

        Living? I don’t know about that. I used to be a blogger on Son of Washington but I quit doing it because I just didn’t have time with work and family stuff also.

    • captblood3000 - May 24, 2016 at 3:52 PM

      Nsekhe is 6’8″, so how can he “play guard”?

      • abanig - May 24, 2016 at 3:54 PM

        He’s big & strong, why not? There’s no height requirement.

        Cooley proposed starting Nsekhe over Long at LG last year, he thought it would help our running game.

        • captblood3000 - May 24, 2016 at 4:45 PM

          Actually, there is a height requirement. Your quarterback will have to throw around him or over him. That’s one reason shorter linemen play in the interior. It’s Takoby Cofield at 6’4″ that could potentially play guard.

        • abanig - May 24, 2016 at 4:53 PM

          All Qbs need a passing lane. Kirk is 6’3, he’s not taller than any of the OL so what’s the difference.

  4. greed - May 23, 2016 at 12:13 PM

    I dont see ryan grant as a lock at wr over R.ross , i havnt seen any gradual improvement from grant from his rookie yr he is not a major contributor on special teams in djax place he struggled to be even a marginal replacement whereas Ross seems to improve every yr , shined in preseason the past 2yrs is a major contributor on teams and did a good job in the few opportunities he got at wr garning some big PI calls and a couple big catches to say he just a speed guy IMO is a little misleading, unless gruden just playing favorites and dont want to admit grant was a mistake there should be a battle for the last spot and Ross should enter camp as the favorite to win the job

    • ET - May 23, 2016 at 3:02 PM

      Gruden seems to like Grant’s work ethic and route running ability, but I don’t think he’s a lock, either. Too many in-game issues for Grant last season. I’m not sure if Ross will capture the spot—he’s pretty one-dimensional. Ross’s chances increase considerably if he handles returns well.

    • 1222tmiller - May 23, 2016 at 3:43 PM

      Ryan Grant is a much better receiver then Ross. Ross has more room to improve.

      • lezziemcdykerson - May 24, 2016 at 2:16 AM

        I’m assuming when you mean Grant isn’t slipping at the top of his routes… Ross has ST value, like him to make the roster over Grant.

    • chimps000 - May 23, 2016 at 6:45 PM

      Ryan grant is not an nfl caliber player, bottom line. I bet he has a charming, coach friendly personality, because he simply does not have the talent to play. He has no speed, and he falls down far too often. Ross may not be coach friendly, and he may not run many routes well, but he has speed and can at least threaten a defense.

  5. Dominique - May 23, 2016 at 12:49 PM

    I don’t think Ryan grant is a lock. I too a look at some of the udfa and they could give him a run for his money on talent alone. Let’s not forget hes been in the league for 3 years now and we haven’t even seen anything that should make him a lock… if it’s a competition he shouldn’t make the cut

  6. redskins12thman - May 23, 2016 at 1:29 PM

    I didn’t think Quinton Dunbar was a lock but I am very glad you feel he is.

    I think he Redskins might keep 24 offensive players and 26 defensive players as I feel there is more uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball.

    While I know Su’a Cravens will play dime linebacker, the Redskins are listing him as a safety and not as a linebacker.

    While not a lock, Terence Garvin seemed to be strong candidate because he is 1. a newly acquired free agent, and 2. had been a special teams standout the past couple of years. Steven Daniels is also not a lock but I believe he will make the team if he shows well; the team did poorly against the run last year and Daniels could help here.

    • redskins12thman - May 23, 2016 at 2:08 PM

      Hi Rich, I should have added a question above. Can you share why you think Quinton Dunbar is a lock?

      • vtsquirm - May 23, 2016 at 5:18 PM

        he’s the 4th CB on the depth chart… that should put him as a lock. he had a solid year last year, plus he’s cheap.

      • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 9:51 AM

        Down the stretch run, he played a high percentage of defensive snaps — not just the Giants game but the back half of the season. Sometimes more than Kyshoen Jarrett and DeAngelo Hall.

        • abanig - May 24, 2016 at 4:42 PM

          He made a few big plays, he also blew a few coverages. Dunbar will make the team I believe “a lock though” I’m not so sure about that.

        • redskins12thman - May 24, 2016 at 6:28 PM

          Thanks! Can you share sources that provide snap counts by player?

        • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 7:40 PM

          I use the Football Outsiders snap counts page.

          Use the drop down menus to select what you want and then click the headings to get the order you want.

  7. sidepull - May 23, 2016 at 3:10 PM

    All look good to me though I dont like Grants contributions, and maybe he does better elsewhere.

  8. mightyjester - May 23, 2016 at 4:28 PM

    Lol Golston is the ultimate survivor. I’d like to see Keith Marshall take Thompson’s place. I don’t know what people see in him Roy Helu was a much better option. He’s a bust in my opinion. Grant is also a bust. He’s done little to nothing since he’s been here. It would be a shame if he beat out Rashed Ross. If Deason and Pierre leave town next season Ross is the guy you still want around, not Grant. I predict that Marshal may also be the starting RB at some time this season. HTTR

    • redskins12thman - May 23, 2016 at 4:36 PM

      There’s room for both Grant and Ross to make the team; Rich was just sharing that from his perspective, Grant was a lock whereas Ross could make the team but it was not guaranteed if one of the CFAs performs really well in special team roles.

      • chimps000 - May 23, 2016 at 6:55 PM

        i thought it was indefensible that Ross played so little when DJax was out, and Grant got opportunities, only to fall down and create interceptions. Grant screams “not NFL level”. I have no personal axe to grind, other than I can’t stand when the best players don’t play because of coaching prejudices. And obviously i am not in the locker room, and maybe Grant has the most “intangibles” on the team, but I know what I saw on film.

        That said, I think Gruden is a good coach.

        • mightyjester - May 23, 2016 at 7:41 PM

          I totally agree. The excuse the whole time was “Ross does not know Jackson’s spot”, the “Y” spot I believe(?). He only knew the “X” spot which is Garcon’s. The thing is they had several weeks to get him acclimated to the Y spot but didn’t do it. Gruden just doesn’t seem to like Ross. He tries to make Grant work because that was one of his draft pics. Ross can be a playmaker on offense and in the return game. He started showing up on teams too at the end of the season.

        • chimps000 - May 24, 2016 at 7:25 PM

          mightyjester i didn’t know that Grant was one of Gruden’s picks, but that would certainly make sense based on what I saw last year.

          Totally agree with you that Ross flashed talent last year- I just couldn’t understand why he didn’t get more playing time. My only guess was that the coaches were worried he would run the wrong routes and lead to picks, but Grant’s falling down led directly to at least one pick, maybe two if memory serves, and Grant flashes zero talent.

    • celeoinc - May 24, 2016 at 9:42 AM

      Helu could not block at all therefore not a fit for this offense. Thompson when healthy is really good plus he can block. I have no idea what games you have been watching.

      • John - May 24, 2016 at 4:37 PM

        Thompson is very good when healthy. Much faster than Helu and more elusive. Way better receiver. Never was that impressed with Helu. Were Helu all that, they would have made more effort to sign him.

    • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 10:04 AM

      There’s room for Marshall and Thompson and room for both Grant and Ross both this year and next year. I don’t think either Grant and Ross should be locks for this year but should have the inside track at making the 5th and 6th receiver spots. Marshall being a 7th round draft pick isn’t guaranteed a spot but having virtually no one ahead of him for the 3rd and 4th RB position gives him a good chance at making the team. Say what you will about Ross not getting on the field — it was frustrating, but Ross had his hand in it. Know your playbook and know every positions responsibility and then if opportunity comes, shine at practice. We all saw Grant slip and fall last year. This isn’t high school where the assistant coach’s son gets the benefit of the doubt. If Grant played, Ross didn’t TAKE his place. He couldn’t beat out Andre Roberts either.

      • John - May 24, 2016 at 4:32 PM

        Gruden seemed to talk up Mack Brown and the kid from Bowling Green in post minicamp interviews. No mention of Marshall.

        Regarding Lionidis, he’ll make it. He can play nose when needed and move around .

        Grant may be a great practice player and OK in preseason but flops in games. Ross needs to round out his game. At present all he is is speed but not the tracking ability of a Desean. Both could be gone if another rookie steps up.

      • chimps000 - May 24, 2016 at 7:52 PM

        “This isn’t high school where the assistant coach’s son gets the benefit of the doubt. If Grant played, Ross didn’t TAKE his place.”

        Disagree. Favoritism has very obviously always been a part of the NFL, as it is a part of human nature. Inferior players routinely get playing time over better players, whether because of where they were drafted, who drafted them, because of age, or because of personality characteristics.

        See how many chances Trent Richardson got. The guy simply did not and does not have quality NFL talent, but has received many more chances than a guy off the street who has the same or even marginally more ability. That’s life.

        • bangkokben - May 24, 2016 at 9:32 PM

          The NFL is a meritocracy but it’s not perfect. Richardson was considered the best TALENT at running back in 2012 and therefore drafted number three overall and continues to get more chances due to that perception. Are there guys on the street that could do the same job or better than he has done over his career if given the same amount of opportunity? Heck yeah! Do draft picks get the benefit of the doubt over the undrafted? Yes!

          Grant a 5th rounder getting the benefit of the doubt over Ross an undrafted free agent is possible but not likely. There’s no clear evidence of that — only suspicion. On the other hand, there is anecdotal evidence from beat reporters (Chris Russell and John Keim) that Ross did not know his playbook and couldn’t be trusted in the games. Even with these reports Ross continued to get a handful of snaps on offense throughout the season but Grant always got more especially early in the season. Both played the lion’s share of the finale against Dallas registering more than 40 snaps each.

          What I can’t accept is the guy who sits on his couch watching games and coming to the conclusion that what he’s seen on camera is a better opinion than that of professionals who need to win in order to remain professionals. That’s crazy.

          Grant got the first shot after Jackson went out with injury because he had knowledge and experience in the offense and the coaches thought he could be trusted. After a few slips and he was getting about ten snaps a game on offense.

    • abanig - May 24, 2016 at 4:52 PM

      Meh Marshall hasn’t proven he can even be Chris Thompson (35 catch and mismatch) level. It’s fun to predict I guess, but Thompson does give us a scat back and good receiver. Thompson’s size is a total opposite of Jones for a RB.

      I just don’t understand the love for Ross over Grant. To be honest, neither of them have proven they’re starter worthy or anything but Grant has proven he can be a somewhat reliable #4 WR. He did have 23 recs and 2 tds last year. Yes, he fell down but that int vs ATL was as much on Kirk as it was on Grant and Cousins said so. The ball placement was horrible because Cousins was rushed and instead of throwing it away he threw it “around” and “behind” Grant. Cousins pretty much threw a blind pass there, it was a bad decision by Kirk.

      The reason Ross didn’t play over Grant was because Ross wasn’t ready. Grant is a better all around WR. Meaning, better route runner and he and Kirk have developed a good relationship and timing over the last two preseasons.

  9. vtsquirm - May 23, 2016 at 5:22 PM

    Grant is the only one I see that sticks out as someone who might not be a LOCK. Ioannidis also? I know they hope to get him some work this year and don’t want anyone grabbing him off the PS. But is he better out of the gate than Golston?

  10. quanzanon - May 24, 2016 at 6:12 PM


    Regarding the salary cap and Lauvao

    “Shawn Lauvao is on the bubble due to his high salary cap number ($5 million)”

    I’m trying to understand the cap stuff. Once you get past June 1st is it a cap issue then or just a salary issue? That is, he makes a fairly large salary and you don’t want to pay him that money if he’s not contributing. I understand that rationale but at that point do you actually gain any cap relief for 2017 different than releasing him at the end of the season?

    Thanks for helping with the cap stuff.

    Also, what does the coaching staff consider their base offense now that we don’t really have a FB anymore? 1 rb, 2 te’s and 2 WR’s or 1 rb,1 te, 2 WR’s and 1 slot?

    And last question, who backs up Crowder? or would they modify the offense to rely less on a slot receiver?

  11. ajbus1 - May 24, 2016 at 11:49 PM

    I assume most of us believe Scott McC is building a Seahawkesque team. But doesn’t it seem like he’s building more of a Packer type team?

  12. gfunkmartin - May 29, 2016 at 12:35 PM

    I’m not sure you can call Riley a lock, especially with the boot he had on the other day. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not a Redskins by the time the regular season hits. Archives

Follow Us On Twitter