The 53: Roster predictions, defense

The 53: Roster predictions, defense
May 14, 2013, 9:15 am
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The Redskins now have 83 players under contract and seven draft picks. Out of those 90 players, Mike Shanahan and company will choose the 53 who will make up the roster for the Monday night season opener on Sept. 9.

Who will those 53 be? Armed with the knowledge that OTA’s have not yet started, training camp is over two months away and plenty could change in the interim, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler project their survivors on defense and special teams. (We projected the offense here yesterday.)

Defensive line

Nose tackle

Tandler (3): Barry Cofield, Chris Neild, Chris Baker

El-Bashir (2): Cofield, Baker

End

Tandler (4): Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Adam Carriker, Phillip Merling

El-Bashir (4): Bowen, Jenkins, Carriker, Kedric Golston

Tandler: No draft picks were spent on the defensive line and no premium free agents were brought it but there still should be fierce competition here. I’m taking a shot on Merling making it over Golston. Merling is two years younger and he was the 32nd pick in the draft in 2008 and if he can get his game together he could be a nice find. They like Neild and Baker can play both end and nose.

El-Bashir: The hope is Carriker bounces back from a torn quad tendon, but there seems to be some concern after a setback earlier this year. Either way, the pressure is going to be on this group. Those four ends combined for one sack in ‘12. 

Linebackers

Inside

Tandler (5): London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Bryan Kehl, Marvin Burdette

El-Bashir (4): Fletcher, Riley, Robinson, Kehl

Outside

Tandler (4): Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Darryl Tapp Brandon Jenkins

El-Bashir (4): Orakpo, Kerrigan, Darry Tapp, Brandon Jenkins

Tandler: Burdette is an undrafted, undersized tackling machine who the Redskins might want to groom to replace their current inside linebacker who fits that same description. Darryl Tapp makes the original 53 but only as the replacement for Jackson while he serves his drug suspension for the first four games.

El-Bashir: Kehl replaces Lorenzo Alexander as a versatile linebacker who also gets it done on special teams. It’s also a big year for Robinson, the heir apparent to Fletcher. He’s got to make up for time missed in ’12 due to a torn pectoral. Tapp, meantime, will be the primary reserve on the outside until Jackson returns in Week 5.

Secondary

Cornerback

Tandler (5): DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, E. J. Biggers, David Amerson, Richard Crawford

El-Bashir: (5): Hall, Wilson, Biggers, Amerson, Crawford

Safety

Tandler (4): Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty, Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo

El-Bashir (5): Meriweather, Doughty, Thomas, Rambo, DeJon Gomes

Tandler: At cornerback the picture is pretty clear. The only competition seems to be Crawford and Chase Minnifield for the fifth spot. I think Crawford wins out on experience and Minnifield is ticketed for the practice squad. They might try to find a way to keep Gomes on the 53 but it looks like he’ll be a victim of the numbers game. After all, if they were high on his prospects, would they have taken two safeties in the draft? Jordan Bernstine starts the season on the PUP list.

El-Bashir: Crawford’s punt return ability helps him beat out Chase Minnifield for the final corner spot. At safety, Thomas slides into the starting free safety role, while Rambo gets some seasoning. Doughty’s veteran presence, versatility and special teams contributions help him clinch a spot -- again. Gomes edges Jordan Bernstine, who's still recovering from a devastating knee injury.

Specialists

Tandler: PK Kai Forbath, LS Nick Sundberg, P Sav Rocca

El-Bashir: Forbath, Sundberg, Rocca.

Tandler: I was somewhat surprised that Rocca, who is 39 and coming off of a mediocre season, was brought back. But he has enough guaranteed money in his new deal to assure that the job is his this year.

El-Bashir: Often, the most important aspect of specials teams is the field goal unit. And the Redskins’ FG operation of Forbath, Sundberg and Rocca finished last season 17 of 18, including 8 of 8 in the second half and overtime. If it ain’t broke …