Washington Redskins: Surprise Players Who Could Make the Redskins 53-Man Roster

Zach CampbellCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2012

Washington Redskins: Surprise Players Who Could Make the Redskins 53-Man Roster

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    Job security, much like in corporate America, is hard to come by. In the NFL, most players labor arduously, day in and day out, to ensure that their roster spot remains secure. 

    For a group of players on the Washington Redskins, this is especially true as 2012 training camp gets ready to commence. 

    The Robert Griffin IIIs, Brian Orakpos and Pierre Garcons of Redskins nation need not worry—their seats are saved. 

    For the milieu of veteran and rookie free agents crowded behind them, however, nothing is guaranteed.  

    When something as weighty as a future in the NFL is concerned, there's no room for holding back. As such, expect a few surprises to turn up once the roster is finalized heading into the Week 1 matchup with the New Orleans Saints.

    Here are a few of the bigger surprises who just might make the cut for the Redskins' final roster heading into the 2012 NFL season. 

Brandyn Thompson, CB,

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    You've got to feel for new secondary coach Raheem Morris. 

    Reinvigorating a lackluster Redskins secondary after several forgettable seasons isn't an enviable task. In the plus column, there are some new faces that may be able to provide the requisite spark. 

    Brandyn Thompson is no household name. Nor should it be, considering he was a practice squad player for nearly the entire 2011 season. 

    Entering his second year out of Boise State, Thompson has essentially a clean slate entering training camp. While some people would look at the lack of tape or statistical breakdown on Thompson as a disadvantage, it may well be a good thing. 

    We know DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson will be holding down the starting corner spots entering the season, and newly acquired veteran free agent Cedric Griffin will certainly be in the mix as well. 

    Kevin Barnes is the likely roadblock in Thompson's path to a roster spot. 

    Barnes may have the edge in experience, this being his fifth year and all. However Barnes has rarely impressed up to this point in his career, and with his contract expiring, it's hard to imagine the Redskins favoring a fifth-year player with [some] potential value on the trade block over a youngster who is ready to stretch his wings. 

    I foresee Barnes getting edged out by the California native and Thompson providing some relief as a nickel-and-dime back and further proving his merit on special teams. 

Markus White, LB

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    Tentatively, one could point to the Redskins linebacker corps as the deepest unit on the entire team. 

    London Fletcher, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. It's hard to beat the amount of experience, athleticism and sheer talent those three bring onto the field week after week. 

    One could also make the case that Perry Riley, Lorenzo Alexander and fourth-round pick Keenan Robinson will all be making their presence known throughout the season. Alexander, especially, at multiple positions. 

    Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson are out there on the fringe. They're pass-rushers, to be sure, and both of them have had a few good plays to hang their hats on, but Wilson is already 30 and Jackson still has a good deal of impressing to do. 

    Markus White, however, in only his second year out of Florida State, could leap-frog both of them for the final linebacker spot. 

    He's a big, hard-hitting athlete that, while being identical to Ryan Kerrigan with regard to height and weight, may be more ideally suited to take up position at the other inside position alongside Fletcher. 

    He'll have to fight hard during camp, but his athletic ability and his youth could make the difference between a roster spot and another year languishing on the practice squad. 

    Don't be surprised if Markus White achieves the former instead of the latter.

Reed Doughty, S

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    Unlike the other three members of this list, Reed Doughty has a sizable sample group to pull from. 

    We know what he is (or perhaps isn't) capable of heading into 2012, and he surely falls into the category of experienced players who are fighting and clawing to keep younger, potentially more talented players from taking their roster spots. 

    Doughty is seven years in now, and for the Northern Colorado alum, it's crunch time. 

    Doughty has been serviceable during his time with the Redskins, but apart from that, there is not too much more you can say. He's had at least 88 tackles over the last three seasons, which certainly is a positive. 

    Yet Doughty lacks big in terms of coverage ability, and too often, he gets beat by opposing players who are either much stronger or much faster than the 5'10" Colorado native. 

    Injuries have been huge in the secondary, though, and Doughty has had to pick up a lion's share of the slack over recent years, meaning his experience is surely something to consider. 

    Brandon Meriweather, despite getting media coverage for the wrong reasons recently, is under contract. Tanard Jackson is by no means an All-Pro, but he did fare well during his time under Raheem Morris' watch in Tampa, and there's no reason to think he won't be able to replicate that success in DC. 

    Cedric Griffin will also likely be splitting time at safety this year, as he is arguably the most versatile player on the Redskins secondary. 

    You might be surprised on the outset to see Doughty on the sidelines come Week 1. 

    But when you think about depth concerns and the lingering reality that the Redskins are without a star safety for the first time since 2003, it doesn't sound so bad having Doughty hanging around after all.

    Not to mention he can continue to put in work on special teams. Note to the Redskins' new class: It might not be stylish, but it keeps you employed. 

Aldrick Robinson, WR

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    Robert Griffin III needs a good cache of weapons heading into 2012. It'd be nice if he didn't have to do everything with his legs anyways. 

    Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan and Santana Moss are in; no question. In fact, they're a sure bet for being RG3's top three options heading into the season. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Leonard Hankerson taking a big step forward this year and fulfilling the oft-mentioned potential that he has yet to realize.

    With Aldrick Robinson, you get a late-round draft pick out of SMU (another SMU guy?!) who has speed for days.  

    Robinson is fifth all-time at Southern Methodist in receiving yards and showed at least enough promise to warrant Mike Shanahan hanging onto him after he was with the practice squad all through 2011.  

    With Moss on the decline, it's imperative that the Redskins begin grooming a future slot receiver to help balance out the offense and strengthen the Redskins' vertical game.  

    It won't be easy. 

    Not when Anthony Armstrong, Terrence Austin and Darius Hanks are also fighting to either maintain a job or earn one.  

    You have to think that Armstrong will stay. He's shown flashes of real ability, and he's got the size and speed to make plays, and I think he will come on strong in 2012.  

    Robinson has elite speed and a great deal of potential. Yes, Austin has been there and has the potential. But as far as staying power goes, I'm not sure he's made a good enough argument for himself as a fifth or even sixth option on this team.  

    Aldrick Robinson could shock a lot of people and emerge with a roster spot at the end of camp, thus edging out Terrence Austin and completing the Redskins receiving corps for the 2012 season.