Pre-Training Camp Roster Prediction

Who is in. Who is out. Here is who I think will make the 90 man roster when training camp is over and the 90 is whittled down to 53.

Bold Denotes Starter

OFFENSE (25)

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins & Colt McCoy

Robert Griffin will the starter through camp and barring a total collapse, through the beginning of the season (the minutiae of every single dropback RGIII takes in August will be poured over, so there will be no shortage of analysis of his progress). Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy will compete for the backup role, but with the lack of stability & confidence in the starter, this battle could be as important as any. 

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Alfred Morris, Darrell Young, Matt Jones & Chris Thompson 

No matter where you stand on the whole elite or not elite debate, Alfred Morris has been one of the most dependable back in the NFL since 2012. However, his production has declined each season since a monster rookie year. An emphasis on reinvigorating the running game this year could help Morris return to his previous form, but don't be surprised to see rookie Matt Jones eat into Morris' carries. Morris has been steady and durable, but fumbles a bit much for my liking and isn't a factor in the passing game. The staff loves what Jones can bring in the new power running scheme & in pass protection. The Redskins should give the talented Chris Thompson one more crack to be the third down scat-back they've been looking for.  I think he comes along in year three and edge out Trey Williams and Silas Redd. Darrel Young is one of the most versatile FBs in the NFL and I don't expect that to change in 2015. With so many weapons at the Redskins disposal, it would behoove the offensive staff not to forget about DY.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant & Evan Spencer

Pierre Garcon is a year removed from leading the NFL in catches (113 in 2014), while DeSean Jackson finally gave the Redskins a true vertical threat leading the NFL in yards per catch (20.9 YPC). If the quarterback play improves, these two could become one of the better tandems in the league. Andre Roberts dropped way too many passes last year and contributed little in the return game, but is too talented to write off after one bad season (bad QB play didn't do him any favors).  I wouldn't be surprised to see Roberts get more snaps at his natural spot on the outside, making room for rookie Jamison Crowder and second year Ryan Grant to play in the slot. Crowder has ideal herky- jerk quicks and fearlessness for that spot (which will also help him as the primary punt returner), while Grant is a superior route runner making both players well suited for the slot. Evan Spencers' contributions will likely be on special teams for 2015, where he was a standout at Ohio State.

TIGHT END (3)

Jordan Reed, Niles Paul & Devin Mahina

If he stays healthy and Redskins QBs can deliver him the ball on time, Jordan Reed will finally will go from potential star to a legitimate one. After years of struggling with the transition from WR, Niles Paul had a breakout season in 2014, proving that he can be a bonafide starting tight end in the NFL. The combination of Reed and Paul on the field at the same time will create matchup problems for days. Devin Mahina gets the nod over Logan Paulsen because of his ability in the passing game. He is 6'6 and has a ridiculous catch radius, which could be effective down near the goal line. He needs to develop as a blocker, but its not Paulsen is a great blocker on the edge anyways.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Arie Kouandjio, Morgan Moses, Tom Compton & Josh LeRibeus

The Redskins hope that perennial Pro Bowler Trent Williams and rookie Brandon Scherff are the bookend tackles for the foreseeable future. LG Spencer Long will take over for the departed veteran Chris Chester. He and RG Shawn Lauvao have the size and strength Gruden wants and both should benefit from a philosophy switch from a zone blocking scheme to Bill Callahan's power blocking scheme. Kory Lichtensteiger had a good season in 2014 and will start again in 2015, but doesn't have the typical size the coaches are searching for. Josh LeRibeus has been a disappointment for the majority of the past three years, but could be the biggest beneficiary of Callahan's arrival. He has showed well in OTAs as the backup center. He also has an inch, 20 pounds and is four years younger than Lichtensteiger. Wouldn't shock me to see him unseat the incumbent starter before long.  Arie Kouandijo, Morgan Moses and Tom Compton will be the primary reserves.

DEFENSE (25)

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Jason Hatcher, Stephen Paea, Terrence Knighton, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean-Francois & Frank Kearse

Defensive line is undeniably the most improved unit on the Redskins. They have guys that can make plays up front and they're deep there. Terence 'Potroast' Knighton gives the line the A-gap run-stuffing NT they haven't had since since switching to the 3-4 alignment. His presence also will allow Jason Hatcher and fellow newbie Stephen Paea to do what DEs should do best; get upfield and be disruptive in the offense's backfield. Chris Baker and Jean-Francois were starters in 2014 for the Redskins and Colts respectively, but now will see time situationally in rotation, keeping the line fresher as games, and the season, wears along. 

LINEBACKER (9)

Ryan Kerrigan, Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Trevardo Williams & Martrell Spaight

Defensive line may be the most improved, but the Redskins linebackers are the best unit on the team (they are also the youngest with the 27-year old Perry Riley as it's oldest member). The LBs are oozing with talent and potential, and that starts with Ryan Kerrigan. His 13.5 sacks last year was good enough for 7th in the NFL. He ranked 4th in pass rush productivity and should benefit from improved DL play. Second year Trent Murphy and rookie second rounder Preston Smith will likely split time at the other OLB spot. The defensive staff love what both players can bring as a pass rusher; size, length and brute strength. Neither player is particularly fast off the edge, but should be stout against the run and versatile enough to move around the front seven creating matchup headaches. 

In my opinion, Keenan Robinson is the best overall player on the Redskins and could be a future All-Pro. In his first year as a starter, he showed the potential that had been untapped due to injury. He ranked 10th in the NFL in tackling efficiency last season and is only getting his feet wet. He is unreasonably fast and physical and the point of attack. While he could improve in coverage, he is speedy and smart enough to keep up with most backs and tight ends. And while I believe the Redskins could do better than Riley, he is a downhill thumper, rushes the quarterback well and is a good compliment to Robinson. They will be the heart and soul of the defense this year. Will Compton is a favorite of the coaching staff and it wouldn't be a huge upset if he wrestled the starting gig from Riley at some point. Rookie Martrell Spaight and veteran Adam Hayward will make the roster on special teams play. Hayward in particular was a bright spot on that dreary unit last year until he broke his leg and Spaight was drafted because of his teams play at Arkansas. Both will contribute in places other than defense. Trevardo Williams is a long term project but gets selected over Jackson Jeffcoat. The coaches like his speed off the edge. He got most of the reps when Kerrigan was sidelined during OTAs.

CORNERBACKS (5)

Chris Culliver, Bashaud Breeland, DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson & Tevin Mitchell

After several seasons of moving parts at the position, the cornerback spot seems to have been solidified. Thanks in part to Chris Culliver's addition, which sneakily could be one of the most impactful free agent signings leaguewide. He graded 10th among corners in yards per snap in 2014 and is now hitting the prime of his career. Barring a sophomore slump from standout Bashaud Breeland, the Redskins could have the makings of a very good cornerback duo. Behind those two are question makes. Hall is the veteran leader of the secondary and the defense. If he can rebound from two blown Achilles injuries, does he still have enough left in the tank to be productive? David Amerson, a second rounder in 2013, rated as one of the worst CBs in football last year after a promising rookie campaign. Will the real David Amerson please stand up? Rookie Tevin Mitchell is experienced in the slot, but must show he is ready for NFL competition.  

SAFETY (5)

Jeron Johnson, Dashon Goldson, Duke Ihenacho, Kyshoen Jarrett & Trenton Robinson

One of the most highly anticipated battles of camp will be at strong safety between Jeron Johnson and Duke Ihenacho. Johnson was brought in from Seattle to presumably be the starter (and I believe he will eventually win it), but Ihenacho got most of the first team reps in OTAs, plus has the experience edge. Either way, I expect both to play plenty on defense depending on situational packages. Dashon Goldson was traded for and will start at free safety. Some believe that Tampa Bay used him incorrectly and he can return to All-Pro form. Some believe he was never that good, merely a product of San Francisco's dominate defense. I believe Goldson, as just a stopgap, is somewhere right in the middle  and will be serviceable, if nothing else. Kyshoen Jarrett and Trenton Robinson will beat out Phillip Thomas because of their special teams play.

SPECIALIST (3)

Nick Sundburg, Tress Way & Kai Forbath

The Redskins found a real gem in Tress Way last August. He emerged as one of the best punters in the NFL. Kai Forbath may not have the strongest leg, but he is automatic from inside 40 yards, which is good news with these new fangled 32-yard extra points.