How Jay Gruden shaped his roster

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
8:30
AM ET
Wanted to check out how Jay Gruden shaped his roster while offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. I doubt these were all his decisions, but it could provide a clue as to how things might evolve eventually with the Redskins' roster. Here goes:
  1. The Bengals kept only two quarterbacks in each of his three seasons. That was a departure from the past for Cincinnati, so don’t be surprised if that’s the route Gruden takes with Washington. And that means free-agent quarterback Rex Grossman might not return, assuming the Redskins don’t trade Kirk Cousins. At this point it wouldn’t make sense to trade him; let him back up Robert Griffin III another year and then see what you can get.
  2. They did keep Greg McElroy on the practice squad this season and had Zac Robinson on the physically unable to perform list before placing him on injured reserve. But on the active roster, there were only two.
  3. Bruce Gradkowski was Andy Dalton’s only backup each of the first two years, but he’s now with Pittsburgh after signing a three-year deal last offseason. Robinson was on the Bengals’ practice squad in 2011 and ‘12 so he knows Gruden’s system. But he has a year left on his contract. The Bengals just signed McElroy to a reserve-futures contract, so, at this point there’s not a quarterback Gruden could bring with him to help the others learn his system.
  4. They will use a fullback, something not every team does a lot of anymore. That should be good news for Darrel Young.
  5. The era of the small guards could be over. Gruden’s primary starting guards the past two years were Clint Boling (6-foot-5, 308 pounds) and Kevin Zeitler (6-4, 314). Redskins left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, who was listed at 284 pounds this season, will need to add more weight (which he knows). But it could be that he eventually gets shifted to center. Kyle Cook, listed at 6-3, 295, started there under Gruden.
  6. Starting right guard Chris Chester’s measurements (6-3, 309) would make him OK. Whether or not Gruden likes his 2013 film is another matter. Backup right guard Adam Gettis (6-2, 292) should bulk up; Josh LeRibeus’ size is not an issue, but another lazy approach to the offseason would doom him. Or, rather, it should doom him. I can’t imagine someone doing that with a new coach on board; then again, I can’t imagine them doing it after their rookie season, either.
  7. The Bengals opened each of his three seasons with at least six receivers, though one was primarily a return specialist. They started 2011 and ’13 with six wideouts and kept seven in 2012. They did not always hang onto all of them throughout the season, but that’s just how they began the season.
  8. They kept nine linemen in 2011 and ’13 and eight in 2012. So, in other words, he wasn’t wedded to a particular number.
  9. For the most part, Cincinnati’s receivers were taller. Last year, for example, of the seven who were on the roster at some point, five were 6-1 or taller -- and only one (Andrew Hawkins) was under 5-11. That held true for Gruden’s three seasons. Of the eight receivers on Washington’s roster this past season, three were under 6-foot (and listed at 5-10). Aldrick Robinson, Nick Williams and Santana Moss all were in that latter group. It’s a bit generous to list all of them at that height. But the overall point is: Gruden has typically not kept a lot of smaller targets.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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