Grading Washington Redskins' Final 53-Man Roster

Matthew BrownCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2014

Grading Washington Redskins' Final 53-Man Roster

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    Evan Vucci/Associated Press

    Rosters have been cut to 53 players, which means that the NFL's regular season is officially here. For the Washington Redskins and new head coach Jay Gruden, it means that the transition from the previous regime to now will finally be put to the test.

    As a first-year head coach, Gruden's roster moves and cuts will be heavily scrutinized throughout the season.

    There weren't many surprise cuts made, and most of the roster was more or less established coming out of the third preseason gameif not before then.

    Even though the franchise just underwent a major coaching change, the roster doesn't look vastly different from last season's or that of the year before, when the Redskins won the NFC East with a 10-6 record.

    Here's a look at how the Redskins' final 53-man roster grades out thus far.

Quarterback

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    Evan Vucci/Associated Press

    Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

    The Redskins will take three quarterbacks into the regular season, which is smart given RGIII’s tendency to take big hits.

    Cousins is more than capable of stepping in as the starter, but there are trade rumblings. Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com suggested the St. Louis Rams might be interested in Cousins following the season-ending injury to starter Sam Bradford.

    Meanwhile, McCoy put together a solid showing in preseason and wouldn’t be the worst emergency option at quarterback.

    Griffin and Cousins are good, young quarterbacks with their best years ahead of them, whereas McCoy is a veteran who never really had a chance to show his capabilities.

    Potential alone isn’t enough, and Griffin hasn't yet demonstrated that he's up to speed as the starter.

    Grade: B-

Running Back

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Silas Redd, Darrel Young (Fullback)

    Arguably the biggest surprise was seeing both Chris Thompson and Lache Seastrunk cut

    Thompson, when healthy, was productive this preseason and has special teams potential. Seastrunk did good things with limited touches, but apparently not enough to make the active roster.

    Both could end up on the practice squad, assuming they clear waivers.

    Morris is the top dog while Helu is the change-of-pace back. Redd can do a bit of everything in the backfield, though he’s not the electric playmaker Seastrunk showed himself to be.

    Young saw virtually no competition in preseason or training camp, and remains one of the best fullbacks in the NFL.

    The group has a lot of versatility, which will be on full display in Jay Gruden’s offense, and should be emphasized on offense.

    Grade: A

Wide Receiver

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    Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson, Ryan Grant

    The Redskins didn’t have any difficult decisions to make with this unit. Garcon and Jacskon are unquestioned top receivers, Roberts and Moss are speedy slot targets, Robinson is a deep threat and Grant has some of the best hands of his rookie class.

    If there is one question that remains, it is how Leonard Hankersonwho is still on the PUP listfactors into the unit when he is eligible to return after Week 6.

    Health would be the only concern for these receivers. Garcon and Jackson have missed time with foot and hamstring issues in the past.

    Grade: A

Tight End

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Jordan Reed, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul

    More of the same from last season, though Reed has the look of a breakout candidate in his second season. As long as he can stay healthy, he can be a big factor for the Redskins offense.

    Paulsen returns as the reliable blocking tight end with decent hands. Paul is a special teams ace and can make plays if necessary on offense.

    Ted Bolser had the potential to be a special teams ace himself but didn’t offer much in terms of offense.

    Grade: B

Offensive Line

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    Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Tom Compton, Josh LeRibeus

    With the exception of Williams and Lichtensteiger, there are a lot of unknowns along the offensive line. Lauvao was signed away from the Cleveland Browns and has not established himself as either a good or bad player.

    While Chester and Polumbus are good run-blocking linemen, they're liabilities in pass protection.

    The decision to only keep one center is interesting, though Chester or LeRibeus are capable of stepping in if necessary. The Redskins need Moses and Longor even Comptonto step up and supplant Chester and Polumbus as starters.

    Preseason was not a good showing for this group.

    Grade: C-

Defensive Line

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Barry Cofield, Chris Baker, Jason Hatcher, Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse, Clifton Geathers

    With Stephen Bowen still on the PUP list, the Redskins had to keep Geathers and Kearse, though the latter is likely to be waived to make room when Bowen is capable of returning.

    Cofield is the only nose tackle listed, but defensive coordinator Jim Haslett showed his willingnessas well as his personnel’s abilityto rotate and plug and play anyone at any position along the defensive line.

    Baker, Hatcher and Jenkins can move inside just as easily as Cofield can move outside. Versatility will be a key to the defensive line being productive.

    Grade: B

Linebacker

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    Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Trent Murphy, Gabe Miller, Will Compton, Akeem Jordan, Adam Hayward

    The outside linebackers will be a key to defensive success for the Redskins, and the trio of Kerrigan, Murphy and Orakpo could be scary for opposing offenses when all three are on the field at once.

    Millera converted tight end in his second seasonCompton, Jordan and Hayward offer special teams play.

    A healthy Robinson has already outplayed Riley on the inside and looks capable of being the physical replacement for London Fletcher, even if he has yet to reach that point of leadership and experience.

    Darryl Sharpton didn’t make the cut despite having the most experience of any of the Redskins' offseason additions at linebacker. He could have played special teams but lacked the experience of his competition.

    Grade: A

Safety

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    Ryan Clark, Duke Ihenacho, Trenton Robinson, Bacarri Rambo

    Brandon Meriweather is slated to miss the first two games while he serves his suspension stemming from his hit on Baltimore Ravens receiver Torrey Smith. He’ll be a part of the active roster thereafter.

    In the meantime, the Redskins will rely on former Denver Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho. Andrew Walker of Redskins.com indicates the team claimed him off waivers.

    Ihenacho is a young player who was inconsistent last season but has the makings of a good strong safety. It remains to be seen how quickly he'll be thrown into the mix for the Redskins, but he could create a safety controversy if he proves to be better than Meriweather.

    Clark is the best free safety the Redskins have had in recent years, though that isn’t exactly a compliment. A few years ago, Clark would have been an unquestioned asset, but he has lost a step in the past few seasons.

    Rambo and Robinson will be the primary backups for Clark and Ihenacho.

    Phillip Thomas wasn't exactly a surprising cut and could still land on the practice squad. He needs to show he can stay healthy long enough to deliver on the promise the coaches have seen in him.

    Grade: C

Cornerback

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, Tracy Porter, E.J. Biggers, Bashaud Breeland

    It is a little surprising to see the Redskins only carry five cornerbacks on the roster, but you can’t argue with the group they decided to keep.

    Hall and Amerson will be the top corners while a rotation of Biggers, Porter and the rookie Breeland will handle nickel and dime duties.

    If the pass rush excels as it should, the Redskins' corners will have a much easier time and could thrive with ball hawks like Amerson and Hall.

    Biggers has the versatility to play some safety in a pinch, making him more valuable than Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford, who were fighting for roster spots.

    Both Crawford and Minnifield have had injury troubles, though Minnifield had all but overcome his in the last year. Crawford has special teams potential, proving to be an excellent punt returner as a rookie, but hasn’t had the chance to show his skills as a cover man.

    Grade: B-

Special Teams

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Kai Forbath, Tress Way, Nick Sundberg

    Despite a solid if unimpressive preseason performance, Kai Forbath won the kicking competition over Zach Hocker. Hocker wasn’t consistently better than Forbath on kickoffs, which was the primary reason the Redskins wanted to look at another kicker.

    Seeing Robert Malone cut in favor of Tress Way, who was signed to the roster less than two weeks ago, is a bit of a shock.

    It is possible that the Redskins will pursue a more permanent option before the start of the season. Way managed to outdo Malone on just four punts in two preseason appearances.

    Longtime Buffalo Bills punter Brian Moorman was cut and could be a short-term solution.

    Punting could be a game-changer for the Redskins, and not having the situation figured out at this point is a concern.

    Grade: C

Practice Squad

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Ted Bolser (TE), Richard Crawford (CB), Chase Minnifield (CB), Tevita Stevens (C), Phillip Thomas (SS), Robert Thomas (NT), Chris Thompson (RB), Nick Williams (WR)

    The Redskins released their practice squad roster, and while it doesn't feature many surprises in terms of inclusions, there is one glaring omission that should be highlighted.

    The big surprise is the absence of rookie Lache Seastrunk. He registered 25 carries for 121 yards during preseason and had two catches for 88 yards as well as a touchdown in the preseason finale.

    Thompson, for all of his potential as a special teams contributor, sat out of two preseason games and wasn't nearly as productive as Seastrunk.

    Seeing Crawford and Minnifield on the practice squad is encouraging, since both are loaded with potential and really just need a chance to show it.

    Bolser gives the Redskins a special teams ace for the future, should they ever choose to move on from Niles Paul.

    Thomas being on the practice squad is probably the best situation for him and the Redskins. They get to keep an eye on a young player with a bright future while he gets to work back to full health and catch up after missing his rookie season.