One week removed from the start of the 2012 NFL draft and on the eve of the this weekend's rookie mini-camp, the Washington Redskins' 2012 roster is finally starting to take shape. There's no drama left surrounding the RGIII pick, and all of the top-flight free-agents have been signed.
Better yet, London Fletcher has re-joined the squad as its captain.
Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen are starting to make moves towards fleshing out the training camp roster, in addition to gobbling up any undrafted free agents that are worth taking a look at this weekend.
The recent release of Jabar Gaffney was one of the first signs that the front office is starting to work their way towards the strongest 53-man roster they can put together for September.
While a lot can and will happen over the next four or so months, let's take a look at the earliest of early projections for the week one roster.
QB: Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins
RB: Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Tim Hightower
FB: Darrel Young
WR: Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, Josh Morgan, Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin
TE: Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, Niles Paul
LT: Trent Williams, Tyler Polumbus
LG: Kory Lichtensteiger, Maurice Hurt
C: Will Montgomery, Erik Cook
RG: Chris Chester, Josh LeRibeus
RT: Jammal Brown, Tom Compton
I believe at the end of the day, Tim Hightower will re-sign with the Redskins. It may be for less money than he had hoped for, but he'll be a great insurance policy incase of injury to either Helu or Royster. Also, Shanahan loves running backs, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Alfred Morris and possibly an UDFA on the practice squad.
The receiving corps may look light, but with Paul switching over to tight end, I have a feeling that he may be called upon to slide back into his old role in a tight situation. This will also be the last season that the depth chart shows both Fred Davis and Chris Cooley; one of them will not be a Redskin next season.
Along the offensive line, I'm looking for the team to emphasize interoperability. Cook, LeRibeus and Compton all provide the ability to play multiple sides and spots along the line. I'd look for Adam Gettis to go practice squad to start the season, but will quickly get added on to the roster with the first injury.
DT: Barry Coefield, Chris Neild, Vaughn Meatoga
DE: Adam Carriker, Jarvis Jenkins, Stephen Bowen, Doug Worthington
OLB: Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Markus White, Lorenzo Alexander
ILB: London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Goff
CB: DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin, Chase Minnifield
FS: DeJon Gomes, Tanard Jackson, Madieu Williams
SS: Brandon Meriweather, Reed Doughty
The Redskins are going to have a lot of talent with their front seven on defense this season. With a healthy Jarvis Jenkins finally able to contribute, look for him to split time with Stephen Bowen. Chris Neild was a pleasant surprise last year, but I think Hawaii's Vaughn Meatoga will be brought on to add a taller presence along the d-line.
After the news came out that Lorenzo Alexander would be switching to the inside spot, the 'Skins signed three additional ILBs. Now that a switch isn't dire, I'm anticipating the special teams standout to slide back to a second-string OLB spot.
If Jonathan Goff isn't healthy enough to start the season, Bryan Kehl will start the year on the active roster as a backup. If Goff can prove he's healthy and picks up on the 3-4 system, look for Kehl to be cut. Goff is a tremendous talent when healthy. Depending on how Goff's knee holds up, Washington could have a great ILB squad with Fletcher, Riley, Robinson and Goff.
At this point in the offseason, the defensive backfield is a free-for-all. A majority of the DBs on the roster right now can play multiple spots and have done so in the regular season. The current roster has 14 defensive backfield players on it. Come the start of the regular season, I think nine is a much more manageable number.
I'm anticipating Chase Minnifield beating out the two seventh-round picks, Leigh Torrence and the depth corners on the roster from last year for the final CB spot. Richard Crawford is a name to watch here because of his return abilities. Washington may go into the season with Terrence Austin and Josh Morgan sharing return responsibilities, but Crawford could be added during the season to energize the return game.
K: Neil Rackers
P: Sav Rocca
L/S: Nick Sundberg
The only thing of note here with the special teams is no more Graham Gano! Neil Rackers is an experienced former Pro-Bowl kicker who has proven he has a powerful leg. I don't think Rackers is just going to push Gano in training camp; I'm predicting that he'll take Gano's spot on the roster.
At this point in the offseason, my gut is telling me that the 'Skins aren't going to keep a singular kick/punt returner on the roster who isn't contributing on offense or defense. I don't think there is enough room on the roster to carry a specialty player with no plans of contributing in an offensive or defensive role.
When push comes to shove, if the roster going into Week 1 has five or six WRs and one of them isn't already Brandon Banks, I think he'll be on the waivers a relatively short time and scooped up by a team in desperate need for a special teams weapon.
While it wasn't easy, scientific or terribly practical, there is the first edition of the Washington Redskins' opening day roster. Obviously, there are a tremendous amount of variables at play, and things could change overnight, but I will be looking back at this version 1.0 when the start of the regular season rolls around to assess who accurate the predictions were.
Please feel free to include your own 53-man roster predictions below.
For more by Scott and his cohorts, check out The Recap.