Washington Redskins: Predicting the Team's 2011 Offensive Depth Chart
Not that predicting an NFL team's depth chart is easy, but it's much more difficult when a lockout is in place and OTA's are solely dependable on the veteran players. In fact, it's impossible.
But, what would the Washington Redskins' offseason be like without over-priced free agent signings, drama and speculation?
Fortunately for us fans, head coach Mike Shanahan appears to be doing his best to eliminate the expensive signings and soap opera story lines, but I'll attempt to do my part in creating some speculation.
For starters, the 2011 Washington Redskins Offensive Depth Chart (defense to follow).
1.) John Beck
At one point, the fact that Beck was our team's starter sounded down-right frightening. But, after some talk and buzz, Shanahan's apparent love for John Beck is starting to change things a bit.
Although the 2007 quarterback class was an ugly one, Shanahan has been quoted as saying that former BYU signal-caller John Beck was tops on his board. And let's not forget, Beck was picked in the second round of that draft, 40th overall by the Miami Dolphins.
After not having thrown a real-game pass since 2007, the thought of Beck is, admittedly, a little scary. At the same time, I think we all owe it to Shanahan to just trust him with this.
Beck is reportedly a very smart individual with the ability to read defenses. He fits well in the Redskins' offense and he has all the tools to get the job done. Will he win a Super Bowl? Probably not, but he's reliable, in my opinion.
With Rex Grossman as a free agent and Donovan McNabb likely on his way out the door, the depth behind John Beck is a huge question mark.
Does the team re-sign Sexy Rexy? Initially, I would guess that they would. However, there have been recent rumors regarding a trade to land Denver quarterback Kyle Orton, and that would pretty much put Grossman on the curb.
This one is far from over.
1.) Ryan Torain
To start the season, I think Torain is the favorite. After averaging 4.5 yards-per-carry last season in just ten games of action, Torain displayed that he fits Shanahan's offense like a glove.
He's a bigger back with enough speed and good enough hands to be a productive starter for this offense.
The obvious concern regarding Torain is his durability. While he may be considered a tough guy, Torain seems to always be hampering some kind of pain. And because of this, Torain will likely lose his starting gig due to injury at some point.
2.) Roy Helu
Too soon? I don't think so. Helu has been on Shanahan's radar for quite some time now and he has the home-run factor that every offense can use.
In combination with his explosiveness, Helu is a perfect fit in the one-cut system and he could actually give Torain a run for his money in training camp.
3.) Keiland Williams
I think I speak for all Redskins fans when I say that we were fortunate to have Williams in our backfield last year.
He may not do anything great, but he does everything well—and that's saying a lot. Williams is a reliable third-down back and I see him improving next season.
4.) James Davis
Shanahan went after him last year on purpose. Davis has some potential and he has a nice dose of both speed and elusiveness. It'll be a tough camp, but I think Davis prevails.
5.) Evan Royster
It's hard to keep five running backs on the roster, but I think Royster sticks around following training camp. It also helps for Royster (Davis and Williams too) that he can contribute on special teams.
Royster is a downfield runner that keeps it powerful between the tackles. Shanahan could implement him around the goal line.
1.) Mike Sellers
I'm a fan of Darrel Young, but the team will likely stick with the veteran Sellers.
He may be getting old, and sometimes he may drop the easiest passes, but Sellers is still effective when motivated.
That being said, I wouldn't count out a former fullback under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and free agent, Vonta Leach.
1.) Chris Cooley
There's no questions here. Regardless of the brief trade talks from a while back, Captain Chaos is a keeper for the Redskins and he's one of the elite talents at his position.
2.) Fred Davis
He may not be much of a blocker (at all), but Davis brings a very intriguing offensive game to the Redskins.
Davis was also mentioned in speculated trades a few months ago, but I believe Shanny will like to have a solid pass-catching tight end in his pocket.
1.) Leonard Hankerson
This is extremely tough and I don't want to see it, but I think the reign of Santana Moss in Washington may be over.
Although he's a very reliable receiver and coming off a 93-catch (career-high) season, I believe Shanahan will look to another receiver to pick up the slack and Hankerson will land himself in the starting spot.
Hankerson was drafted, in my opinion, to be the Redskins eventual No. 1 target, so this isn't a huge reach. Do I believe Hankerson is truly ready for the starting role?
Not yet, but Shanny will have no problem throwing the 6'2"acrobat into the fire.
2.) Anthony Armstrong
With the predicted release of Santana Moss, Shanahan will look elsewhere for the same kind of production. Enter AA.
Armstrong has the speed to stretch the field and he showed up big for crucial catches throughout last season. I'm not saying Armstrong will catch 93 balls, but I think he's capable if called upon.
3.) Malcolm Kelly
Not that I'm holding my breath on Kelly, but Shanahan didn't keep him on IR last year just for fun.
Whether it be his 6'4" frame or the speed to go with it, Kelly possesses some kind of potential that Shanahan likes. And being optimistic, I think Kelly could become a nice redzone target if he can stay healthy.
4.) Niles Paul
Brandon Banks was a nice breath of fresh air last season, but his latest incident at D.C. nightclub may keep him on the outs of 2011's depth chart.
And with the drafting of a guy like Niles Paul, I wouldn't be surprised to see him take Banks' old job.
Not only does Paul have returning experience, but he's also a very interesting prospect for the slot receiver position. Paul is 6'1" and he has the unique ability to work the middle of the field.
Some may find this surprising, but I think it's very feasible.
5.) Aldrick Robinson
Could three rookies break into the starting wide receiving corps? Yes.
Robinson is small in stature and huge in everything else. He has speed, he has big-play ability and he's fearless.
Robinson is another guy that has a good chance to land a slot receiver job and I think his upside is tremendous.
With the understanding that the Redskins could benefit drastically from signing a free agent offensive lineman, this prediction is going to be a little boring.
Even with people labeling this year's free agent class as one of the best, I don't see any of the top available offensive linemen leaving their current teams.
Left Tackle - Trent Williams
Some were critical of his play as a rookie, but Trent Williams is the team's bookend of the future without question.
Like Shanahan, I love Williams' athleticism and speed used to get to the next level. There's no doubt that he'll be an improved player from last season.
Left Guard - Kory Lichtensteiger
There were rumors that Kyle Shanahan got jealous of Lichtensteiger—that's how much Mike Shanahan seemed to love this guy last season (poor attempt at humor).
After Kory took Derrick Dockery's job last season, Shanahan obviously sees some potential in Lichtensteiger and I'm excited to see him next season.
Center - Casey Rabach
As I've written before, Casey Rabach is no longer an NFL-starting center.
However, because the Redskins have yet to address the position, I have no choice but to assume that Shanahan is good with Rabach for at least one more season.
Right Guard - Artis Hicks
Will Montgomery cannot be starting along the Redskins' offensive line if Shanahan wants to keep his quarterback in one piece. Assuming he can stay healthy, it'll be nice to have Hicks back next season.
Right Tackle - Jammal Brown
After battling some injuries of his own, Brown finished out the season on a good note. With a year under his belt as a right tackle and the motivation from coach Shanahan, Brown can be a very productive bookend.
Depth - Selvish Capers, Eric Cook and Will Montgomery