RICHMOND—The Redskins are now more than two weeks into training camp, the first depth chart has been released and the preseason opener is in the rearview. So you know what that means? It’s time for Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler to take another stab at predicting the 53-man roster. Things remain fluid, of course, but there is significantly more clarity at many positions.
Today, we’re predicting the defense.
Tandler (6): Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, Barry Cofield, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Clifton Geathers
The more I see Stephen Bowen working out off to the side and not making much apparent progress, the more I think he’ll end up on the in-season PUP list. Going with six here may be a bit thin but they will line up outside linebackers on the line in nickel situations so it should work.
El-Bashir (7): Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, Chris Baker, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Chris Neild and Stephen Bowen.
I’ve changed my mind about Neild; I’m starting to believe he’ll force his way onto the roster. The big question is still Stephen Bowen, who remains on the physically unable to perform list two weeks into camp. If the 30-year-old isn’t able to contribute, that could open the door for Frank Kearse or Clifton Geathers.
Tandler (4): Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Adrian Robinson
I’m not ruling out Rob Jackson making the team but right now I think Robinson gives them more of what they’re looking for i. e. pass rush. Everette Brown and possibly Gabe Miller are also possibly in the mix here.
El-Bashir (4): Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy and Rob Jackson.
The first three are locks. The fourth, well, it’s always possible that could change. For now, though, Brandon Jenkins’ departure coupled with Jackson’s familiarity with the scheme and his experience gives him the edge over hopefuls such as Gabe Miller and Everette Brown.
Tandler (5): Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Akeem Jordan, Adam Hayward, Darryl Sharpton
I’m keeping an eye on Will Compton, who is listed ahead of Jordan at Mike linebacker on the depth chart. Right now I’ll give Jordan the edge based on experience but if Compton plays special teams well that could change.
El-Bashir (5): Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Akeem Jordan, Adam Hayward and Darryl Sharpton.
I’ve got them taking five inside linebackers, but I could easily see them taking only four. Hayward is safe because of his value on special teams. Will Compton, meantime, has performed solidly and could displace one of the veteran free agent additions.
Tandler (5): DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter, E. J. Biggers, Bashaud Breeland
If Porter had not received a $2 million signing bonus he would be off and Richard Crawford would be on. Porter could come around after missing the offseason program with a shoulder injury but right now he’s not one of the best five or even six cornerbacks in camp.
El-Bashir (5): DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter, E.J. Biggers and Bashaud Breeland.
Chase Minnifield had a nice pass breakup Thursday and is competing hard for a spot. So is Richard Crawford, who’s attempting to come back from a serious knee injury. Both are in the conversation but will need to force their way past Biggers.
Tandler (4): Ryan Clark, Brandon Meriweather, Phillip Thomas, Akeem Davis
Both Davis and Bacarri Rambo will have to play some more special teams snaps for a winner to emerge in what is likely to be the final safety spot. Rambo was improved over the 2013 version but he still has work to do. Trenton Robinson also could come in and steal a spot.
El-Bashir (4): Brandon Meriweather, Ryan Clark, Phillip Thomas and Trenton Robinson.
Bacarri Rambo will need three more performances like the four-tackle effort he produced Thursday to secure a spot. Robinson will need to do that same. He made a team-high six tackles and defended a pass, while also leading the team in special teams snaps (11). If all else remains equal, Robinson’s special teams ability helps him stick around.
Tandler (3): LS Nick Sundberg, P Robert Malone, K Zach Hocker
I’ve covered all of the possibilities now. My first roster projection had both Hocker and Kai Forbath making the team. The last time we did this the kicker was Forbath. Now, it looks like Hocker is the man. It’s a fluid situation, stay tuned.
El-Bashir (3): LS Nick Sundberg, P Robert Malone and K Zach Hocker
I had Kai Forbath beating out Hocker in my last prediction. And I still think he’s in the conversation. But Thursday’s performance was eye opening. Hocker’s leg strength advantage was apparent on kickoffs and he was 2 for 2 on field goals. The rookie also made a nice open field tackle. Forbath appeared nervous, missing a field goal and shaking another out of out bounds. The next three preseason games will be critical.
Tandler: 24 on defense, 3 specialists, 12 new to the Redskins in 2014
El-Bashir: 25 on defense, 3 specialists, 10 new to the Redskins in 2014
Sunday: Offensive roster projection