10 Thoughts On The Redskins’ Initial 53-Man Roster

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Releasing Nate Sudfeld was the right decision

The practice squad was made for passers like Sudfeld, a second-year player who still looks like a major project 17 months after being drafted in the sixth round. Despite plus arm-strength, Sudfeld still struggles with footwork and has inconsistent mechanics. Still a long-shot to become an NFL starter, Washington can risk losing him to another team’s 53-man roster. It’s unlikely that Sudfeld will be claimed off waivers, but if he is the Redskins can find a similar prospect with raw upside for their practice squad. Kirk Cousins has proven to be a durable starter and Colt McCoy is a competent backup. Washington is in good shape with just two quarterbacks on its roster.

Maurice Harris’ days in DC are not done

I would be stunned if Harris is not added to Washington’s 10-man taxi squad when he clears waivers. He’s the caliber of wide receiver who could potentially be plucked off the scrap-pile by another organization, but assuming he sneaks through he will be with the Redskins when the 63-man roster is formed. Harris’ combination of size (6-foot-3, 200-pounds) and speed (4.5 40-time) make him an intriguing prospect, and his performance last year also helps his cause. He got eight passes for 66 yards, making the most of his chances on the field when they came.

Josh Harvey-Clemons gave the Redskins no choice

I did not have Harvey-Clemons making the team. He did nothing wrong, I just didn’t think the Redskins were going to keep 10 linebackers. Clearly Washington thought the 2017 7th-rounder showed too well this August to risk sneaking through waivers. Harvey-Clemons’ story is as fascinating as his versatile frame and skillset. He was booted from Georgia after failing multiple marijuana tests but finished his collegiate career as a standout at Lousiville. He would have been drafted much sooner than he was if not for his off-field issues. The former safety is a 6-foot-4, 217-pound tweener who will be asked to play mostly linebacker in the NFL. I like his game. He earned his spot. I just can’t ever remember the Redskins keeping 10 linebackers.

Thin wide receiver position 

The decision to only keep five wide receivers was both a surprise and a vote of confidence for Josh Doctson’s ability to stay healthy. Most teams keep six wide receivers, especially throw-first clubs like the Redskins. When you consider Doctson’s checkered injury history and the fact that Brian Quick hobbled off the field in Thursday night’s preseason finale, the decision to only keep five wideouts is particularly intriguing. Clearly the Redskins will have at least one (Harris or Robert Davis) receiver on the practice squad. The Redskins also likely felt more confident in keeping five wides because of the capabilities of Jordan Reed, Chris Thompson, Vernon Davis and Niles Paul to run routes outside.

Stefan McClure was the most surprising player kept

McClure took advantage of injuries to Deangelo Hall (PUP list) and Sua Cravens (rehabbing his knee) to earn a spot as the Redskins’ 5th safety. Veteran Will Blackmon could have been kept over McClure, but the team chose to go with the more youthful (24 years old), higher-upside prospect. McClure made 11 tackles, tallied a sack and broke up a pair of passes in a busy preseason. He routinely stood out in his time on the field, shining in the Redskins’ fourth preseason game in Tampa Bay. The question now becomes how long McClure can hang around, especially if Cravens proves healthy in the coming week.

No surprises at running back 

When the roster dust had settled, running back ended up being the most predictable part of the roster. Starter Rob Kelley and backup Samaje Perine will be joined in the backfield by third-down back Chris Thompson and reserve-option Mack Brown. Former third-round pick Matt Jones was waived and despite his fumble problems in the past, he will likely spend very little time on the unemploymnet line. Brown ran hard on his 18 attempts against the Bucs this week, insuring his spot on the roster. He can play on special teams coverage units, which could mean he’ll be active on game-days early this season as well.

Anthony Lanier won battle on defensive line

There were five roster locks on Washington’s defensive line: Jonathan Allen, Ziggy Hood, Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee and Matt Ioannidis were all safe when the day began. But who would be the team’s six defender up front? Might the Redskins keep a seventh? Lanier was the answer to the first of those questions. I love Lanier’s length and have been enamored with the long-armed defender’s ability to shed blocks at times. Nose tackles AJ Francis and Joey Mbu were both waived. I’m surprised one wasn’t kept in the wake of Phil Taylor’s injury. But Lanier is the guy that I liked most of those three to end up being a quality NFL defender.

Derek Carrier trade is evidence of stacked TE spot

Carrier is an NFL tight end. He will catch passes for the LA Rams this season. The fact that the Redskins were going to cut him if LA didn’t come calling is proof that the team is loaded at tight end. Jordan Reed may be an all-pro, Vernon Davis is as good a second tight end as their is in football and Niles Paul is a matchup nightmare when he is in the game. Rookie mid-round pick Jeremy Sprinkle is super-sized and should get run on the field as a rookie. There was just no spot for Carrier, who has hauled in 28 passes in his career. There is no better area on the Redskins’ roster than tight end.

Josh Holsey was a great pick in Round-7

Torn ACL’s in 2013 and 2015 and a short-stature (5-foot-10) kept teams from calling Holsey’s name six-plus rounds in April. The Redskins took a flyer on the former Auburn star with the 235th pick in the draft, viewing him as a potential nickle-corner who could use his quick-twitch speed while tracking receivers in the slot. He had a banner training camp and a consistent preseason, earning Holsey the team’s 6th cornerback distinction and a spot on the 53-man roster. Both of the team’s seventh round picks made Washington’s initial roster.

I would have kept Will Blackmon

I know he is 32 and I get that he’s been in the league for a decade, but some guys just have a knack for making plays when the lights come on. Blackmon intercepted three passes, forced four fumbles and ripped off a couple of long returns in his two season in Washington. I don’t think he would have been an impact player at safety. He is not a true safety and often resembled a guy playing out of position when roaming in center field. But he had experience at seemingly all of the team’s secondary positions and brings a cerebral and intuitive approach that can benefit a locker room. I’m normally a proponent of keeping kids over veterans but I think Blackmon still had something to provide.

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Grant Paulsen

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