Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will be taking a close look at the Redskins’ depth chart, dissecting each position.
Some spots are straightforward. Others are more complicated. This much, however, is not up for debate: A player is not on the 53-man roster until the final cuts are made.
So who’s the odds-on favorite to start? And who’s in trouble? Up today …
Position: Wide receiver
On the roster: Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Nick Williams, Ryan Grant, Lee Doss, Cody Hoffman, Rashad Lawrence, Jerry Rice Jr., Rashad Ross
Likely to make the 53: Garçon, Jackson, Roberts, Grant
Comment: This position features a Big Three with defined roles and then everyone else scrambling. Garçon and Jackson will line up wide as the possession and deep threats, respectively, and Roberts will join them in three-receiver formations.
Grant seems to be a lock for the roster after the team made him a fifth-round draft pick. During rookie minicamp Jay Gruden said, “He plays like a 10-year veteran already.” He doesn’t have great speed but he makes up for it with solid route running and good hands.
Battling for a job: Hankerson, Moss, Robinson, Williams, Doss, Hoffman, Lawrence, Rice, Ross
Comment: This is not one roster bubble here. There are three distinct tiers going into training camp.
The first level has Hankerson, Moss, and Robinson competing for the last two roster spots. A lot will hinge in Hankerson’s health. He did not participate in the offseason program as he has been rehabbing from knee surgery that repaired both his LCL and a torn ACL. If he starts the season on the PUP list that would seem to pave the way for Moss and Robinson to make it with a decision to be delayed until six weeks into the season when Hankerson would be eligible to be activated. If Hankerson is good to go there is likely to be some drama here when final cuts are made on August 30.
It is possible that all three will make the 53 but going with seven receivers will create a numbers crunch elsewhere on the roster.
Next there are Williams, who spent some time on the active roster last year, and Hoffman, a 6-4 undrafted free agent out of BYU. They are long shots to make the initial 53 but they can set themselves up to make a run at the practice squad or get a chance if a veteran gets injured or falters.
The rest are there to catch passes in training camp and work the latter stages of preseason games. There they can hope to play well enough to catch on to a practice squad, either with the Redskins or elsewhere in the league. Rice Jr. is the best-known of the group but only for his famous name. This is his third stop this year after he wasn’t signed following tryouts with the 49ers and Ravens.