Backup QB: Kirk Cousins v. Colt McCoy
Normally the backup QB race wouldn't be an important contest. But when RGIII is the starter, anything can happen. Every year since entering the league, RGIII has missed time due to por performance, injury or both. There is no telling how long he will stay healthy or how long his leash is if he play doesn't improve. If Griffin misses time for any reason, the winner of the camp battle will be taking snaps.
Projected winner: Cousin. He turns the ball over a bit much for my liking, but proved he can move the offense with more consistency that McCoy. If he cuts down on the mental mistakes, the backup job is his to lose.
Third RB: Chris Thompson v. Silas Redd v. Trey Williams
Alfred Morris and Matt Jones (and even Darrel Young) will see the lion's share of touches out of the backfield, but all have a similar powerful, single- cut downhill quality to their game. The Redskins have been looking for a scat-back that can be a home run threat for years, and have have found it this year. Thompson and Redd both had chances last year to impress last year, but neither left a lasting impressing. That has opened the door for UDFA Trey Williams, who is diminutive, but explosive.
Projected winner: Thompson gets one more crack at holding down this job. Redd isn't as explosive as the other two and doesn't really have a special trait. Trey Williams' speed and elusiveness are intriguing, but I think Thompson will show enough in year three that he is finally ready to be a steady contributor and edge out the rookie.
Slot Receiver: Andre Roberts v. Jamison Crowder
Andre Roberts didn't give what the Redskins what they wanted out of a slot receiver in 2014. Some of that was on him. He dropped too many passes. The bad QB play also didn't do him any favors. But in honesty, Andre Roberts isn't a slot receiver typically. He was brought in to start on the outside, but was forced to the slot when DeSean Jackson became available. Rookie Jamison Crowder is a better fit in the slot. He is quicker than fast and runs exacto-knife sharp routes. He can help him maneuver his way though interior defenses and come out unscathed.
Projected winner: Both. Let me explain. While I do think Roberts will start at slot receiver, I don't think the Redskins to try and force a square peg into a round hole, so to speak. I believe that improved WR depth will allow the Redskins to spell Garcon more often and slide Roberts to the outside, his natural position. In these instances (or when they want to go four wide), Crowder will assume the slot.
Left OLB: Trent Murphy v. Preston Smith
The Redskins have drafted OLBs in back to back years which will provide quality depth. Who will get the start? Trent Murphy had a decent rookie season showing his ability to pass rush when needed, but be very stout against the run. Murphy put on some mass this offseason to withstand the rigors of a full NFL season. Preston Smith is a talented prospect that the Redskins seem to be enamored with. He has great size and incredible length and motor. Both players are viewed a promising chess pieces in this up-and-coming defense.
Projected winner: Murphy. Both guys are going to get their fair share of snaps. I could see Murphy playing alot on obvious running situations because of his ability to be tough at the point of attack and slide inside as a three technique. Smith could be a situation player as he becomes accustomed to the NFL.
Strong Safety: Duke Ihenacho v. Jeron Johnson
Jeron Johnson was presumed the starter when McCloughin brought him in from Seattle. But then the forgotten entity that is Duke Ihenacho emerged as the starter during OTAs. Johnson seemingly has the untapped upside that the secondary is in need of, but Ihenacho has the starting experience. I expect both to get their fair share of defensive snaps, but who starts?
Projected winner: Johnson. Both pay the same position, but I could see scenarios when they're used in totally different ways. Johnson will likely be an every down player and I could see him moving to free safety on some passing downs (depending on what we see from Dashon Goldson). Ihenacho is capable, but I view him as more of a nickel linebacker, much like how the Cardinals use 2013 first round strong safety Deone Buchannon.
#2 & #3 Corners: Bashaud Breeland v. DeAngelo Hall v. David Amerson
Chris Culliver is locked in to the starter's role and will shadow the Dez Bryants and Odell Beckham Jrs and the Jordan Matthews of the division. The Redskins lined up in nickel packages over 70% of all defensive snaps last year. I don't expect that to change now or anytime soon, so were going to see alot of slot cornerback play. DeAngelo Hall is one of the most accomplished corners of his era, but a double torn Achilles tendon will take its toll on the aging veteran. The question is how much? Breeland was a standout in his absence but was one ofthe most flagged corners in the NFL last season. If he can manage to be less grabby, he will emerge as a really great player. David Amerson has become the forgotten man after rating as one of the least effective corners in 2014 after a very solid rookie year in 2013. Figuring out who the real David Amerson is will be huge this August.
Projected winners: Hall & Breeland (if Hall proves healthy). Hall still enough left in his tank to be hold down a spot on the corner (he is also the veteran leader of the defense, which cannot be understated). However, I expect Breeland to be the full-time 2. He will likely be outside opposite Culliver in the rare occasion when the Redskins aren't in nickel. When they are, he will slide into the slot and Hall will take over outside. Breeland has shown he has the tools to be a real shut down corner, but he is making a name for his physicality and ability against the run. Slot corner needs stout against the run since they're near the box so often (especially against teams like Philly who will try and spread the Redskins out and run). If anything were to happen to Hall, I think Amerson would move in his spot and Breeland would remain in the slot.