Washington Redskins: Ryan Grant
Jay Gruden only had two quarterbacks in each of his three seasons with Cincinnati, but Griffin still needs to prove his durability. If something happened to him, they woulld still be in good shape with Cousins and McCoy. If they go with two then McCoy gets left off.
Running backs (4)
The Redskins could also stash Chris Thompson on the practice squad as further insurance. Thompson can easily bump himself onto the roster with a good summer; he’s a good fit in Gruden’s offense and the new coach liked Thompson coming out of college. But durability is an issue. By keeping four here, the Redskins can go with an extra player at another spot. This means Evan Royster is on the outs, but he doesn’t give the Redskins anything they don’t have in better players. He is insurance only.
I am not cutting Leonard Hankerson, rather I’m just not sold that he will be on the active roster at the start of the season. If he shows this summer that he can play, then, yes, I would have him on the 53-man roster. But the Redskins were not sure what to expect from him and when he might be healthy. Therefore, I can see him taking a little longer to return. Gruden likes Moss and they drafted Grant. Robinson needs to take a step.
Tight ends (3)
Rookie tight end Ted Bolser would head to the practice squad, where he can develop. He didn’t look close to a roster spot just based on how he looked this spring. Reed is firmly entrenched as the starter with Paulsen their top blocker and Paul a special teams ace.
Offensive line (10)
- Trent Williams
- Shawn Lauvao
- Kory Lichtensteiger
- Chris Chester
- Tyler Polumbus
- Morgan Moses
- Spencer Long
- Josh LeRibeus
- Tom Compton
- Mike McGlynn
In reality, I could see them keeping only nine offensive linemen. It all depends on how Long and/or LeRibeus looks at guard. They love Long -- Gruden has said he could compete immediately -- so if he shows he can play, then they could cut Chester (which I don't think will happen; I think he'll start). Compton is a little surprise, but they like him as well. This position will be fluid and I’m not sold on the 10 I have listed.
Defensive line (6)
This one is fluid as well because it depends in part on Bowen’s health. I like Chris Neild and so do they, but can they keep him? Golston is more versatile and a key player on special teams, but he’s also 30 and they must get younger at some point. But he still helps in too many ways.
- Ryan Kerrigan
- Brian Orakpo
- Perry Riley
- Keenan Robinson
- Trent Murphy
- Darryl Sharpton
- Adam Hayward
- Brandon Jenkins
- Akeem Jordan
As of now I’d have Rob Jackson out, especially if Jenkins develops as a pass-rusher. But this will be a close race. And I have them keeping an extra guy inside in Hayward because of his special teams ability.
Chase Minnifield remains eligible for the practice squad. Richard Crawford is coming off a knee injury and it’s hard to place him on here without seeing him play. The one benefit for Crawford is that he can play in the slot; they need depth at that spot.
I really don’t feel good about this position and am not confident that I have this one right, at least for that final spot. Robinson’s special teams ability gives him the edge over Bacarri Rambo, who must have a strong camp. Akeem Davis can help on special teams, but with no NFL experience he will be stashed on the practice squad.
The Forbath selection is based on never having seen rookie Zach Hocker kick in an NFL game. If Hocker is consistent this summer and shows a strong leg, then he can win the job.
LB Trent Murphy: He entered as the No. 3 linebacker and was used in multiple ways throughout the spring. That will obviously continue. Murphy is not an explosive player so you won’t be wowed by speed off the edge. But he knows how to use his hands on the rush and he’s adept at the details of the position. He’ll be the third linebacker in their nickel package. In the spring, they rushed him from over the guards, through the middle and on both edges.
OT Morgan Moses: Just don’t see any way he unseats Tyler Polumbus based off college tape and his performance in the spring. He’s still inconsistent and bends at the waist too often. He cut down on this in the spring – he knows it’s an issue – but it’s still a problem. It forces him to rely on his long arms; that’s OK in college but in the NFL it’s about the arms and the feet.
G Spencer Long: They loved him coming in and nothing has changed. That does not mean they think he’ll beat out Chris Chester, certainly not right away. But they like what they have in Long. Unlike the past couple years, the Redskins have worked their rookie linemen on both sides. Typically they stuck them on one side and let them get comfortable. But there’s too much competition to bring them along slowly.
CB Bashaud Breeland: He’ll help on special teams and if the others stay healthy, he’ll be a No. 4 corner at best. Breeland looked good for the most part in the spring, though I’ll be curious to see in training camp how much he still grabs and holds. But he’s a physical player and has a good mindset.
WR Ryan Grant: Another guy the coaches really like, but I have a hard time seeing him do a whole lot given his size and lack of strength. It’ll be tough for him to get off jams or to even block. But it’s not like he must contribute immediately. My guess is he’d be a fifth or sixth receiver right now – it’ll depend on Leonard Hankerson’s availability and Aldrick Robinson’s improvement. Grant is a good route runner and worth developing.
RB Lache Seastrunk: He’s a good fit for Jay Gruden’s offense, especially when they want to run the ball out of a shotgun spread formation. It’s what he did at Baylor. Seastrunk will be a spot player on offense. It’s hard to see him emerging as a third-down back, at least early in the season. It’s not just about catching the ball, it’s about recognizing blitzes and running routes. It’s not easy. The Redskins also have Chris Thompson in this role and, while Gruden likes him, his durability is an issue. Plus, Thompson has practice-squad eligibility.
TE Ted Bolser: Didn’t see anything this spring that suggested he warranted a roster spot. He dropped too many passes – and he’s supposed to be a pass-catching tight end. Bolser blocked better in space than he did on the line in college – much better – but that won’t be enough. Entering camp he looks like a practice-squad player unless the Redskins keep four tight ends.
K Zach Hocker: Looked good during practices with his field goals. Will be curious to see his leg strength on kickoffs and his accuracy during games. Practices matter, but the games count. Consider that practices are like quizzes and the games are tests. Kai Forbath has been an accurate kicker so Hocker is no gimme. But they drafted him for a reason (leg strength/kickoffs). It’ll be an interesting competition.
John Keim: Great question. Man, it'll be tough to have a greater impact than Moss did in 2005 when he caught 84 passes for 1,483 yards and nine touchdowns. He averaged 17.7 yards per catch. I can't see Jackson matching that total simply because he'll have much more receiving talent around him. Moss had tight end Chris Cooley, but those two combined for 155 of the team's 278 receptions. No other player came within 40 of Cooley's total (71). Moss made the offense; Jackson will complete this one. He will have a big impact, but without Moss the Redskins had no passing game. Without Jackson the Redskins could still be fine. They're just better with him and he gives them the same level of playmaker Moss was in '05.
Keim: They hosted Owen Daniels early in free agency, but that was about it (and he eventually signed with Baltimore). But the drop-off from Reed to Paulsen is only when it comes to pass-catching. They like, and need, Paulsen as a blocker as Reed still needs to show he could handle that role consistently. Ted Bolser hasn't impressed me a whole lot this spring, but I always viewed him as a guy to groom for a year or two down the road. Not much of a blocker and his hands were too inconsistent this spring.
Keim: I assume you mean if whichever one doesn't start because there's no way all three will considering each plays on the inside. But the answer is yes ... probably. Hayward is a career backup, with 13 starts in his seven seasons. He's a special-teamer and was not brought in to start. Sharpton and Jordan both can help on special teams as well and have more starting experience. The decision will likely come down to this: Do you keep a fifth outside linebacker (Brandon Jenkins and/or Rob Jackson) or a fifth inside linebacker? The guys inside are stronger on special teams.
Keim: I have my doubts too, especially if you want significant improvement. There is reason to believe they'll be better because of the new pass-rushers, giving them a more diverse attack. With new outside linebackers coach Brian Baker, there is an added emphasis on an aggressive rush. Too often in the past the outside linebackers rushed contain, as they had been taught. Inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti will have a key role in the game planning (like Bob Slowik did last year; I trust Olivadotti a lot more). Just remember: Everything sounds good in the spring. We have to see it on the field. But the defense is aging and will remain in transition for another year. There's a lot of age up front, too -- and guys coming off injuries. It's a tough mix. They'll be helped, however, by improved special-teams play and fewer turnovers by the offense.
Keim: You are right, he dropped too many passes last season. I don't think he's a lock, but the head coach certainly likes what he adds. Two weeks ago he talked about how Moss was going to help the team. In my experience, coaches don't talk about the season that way for players they don't think will make the roster. Moss also has looked good this spring. But the other reason is this: Who will beat him out? After the three starters, there's not a whole lot of proven talent. Leonard Hankerson might not be ready to open the season; Aldrick Robinson is still Aldrick Robinson and while they like Nick Williams, is he really better than Moss? No. Besides, Williams has practice-squad eligibility. Ryan Grant will be there too but he's only a rookie. Moss provides insurance and proven depth and Jay Gruden likes him around for his leadership.
Keim: He had a good enough rookie minicamp to earn a contract. He's long, which always helps, but he has a ways to go before he can think about making the roster. Bridget has a number of players ahead of him.When training camp starts, and they start doing more one-on-ones with receivers, etc., then I'll get a better feel for him. During the spring I need to focus on the returning players, impact guys and newcomers of note. So... ask again in August.
Keim: Have not heard that, no. It's too expensive to change based on what team you have; could change on a yearly basis. They will be fast offensively on any surface. Keep in mind, too, that the defense is not considered fast.
1. David Amerson looks bigger and, indeed, he said he's added about six or seven pounds of muscle. Amerson does appear to have more toned arms. That will help when he plays press coverage and in run support. I'll have more on Amerson later this summer, but know this: He's had a good spring. Saw him stick with Pierre Garcon in a couple one-on-one occasions. Also, more importantly, saw him use his eyes better and more consistently. It was an issue last year.
3. Saw this for the first time: a receiver doing a spin move at the line to get away from press coverage. Garcon tried that against Amerson, but it didn't work. Amerson stayed patient and, partly because he didn't try to jam Garcon, was not fooled by the move.
4. Garcon dunked a ball after a catch in the end zone. The Redskins had college officials at practice and one immediately threw a flag. Players can no longer dunk over the goal posts.
5. The offensive players were convinced Amerson should have been called for holding on a back-shoulder attempt to tight end Jordan Reed in the end zone. I was just finishing up an interview with Amerson after practice when Reed walked past with a smile and asked, "Did he tell you he held me?"
6. Rookie receiver Ryan Grant had a few nice grabs Tuesday, mostly on underneath routes against zone coverage. He's good at driving the defender off and then cutting. Did it a couple times Tuesday. I don't know when he'll be able to really help because he has to get stronger and, ultimately, prove he can beat press coverage.
7. One coach I will enjoy listening and paying attention to this summer: outside linebackers coach Brian Baker. Yes, I know, I've mentioned him a few times, but after watching him work with the players I'm even more convinced of his impact. Just a detailed coach. I'll have more on that later this week. But he is good and isn't afraid to chastise anyone. Heard him ping rookie Trent Murphy during a drill Tuesday morning.
8. Murphy was juked out by Reed on one route. He can ask other veteran linebackers how that feels because that's what happened last year. Once more, Reed was among the last off the field after working more on his game. Nothing has changed since last year in that regard.
9. Reed also had a nice block on Murphy, getting his hands into the rookie's chest and pushing him to the ground.
10. With linebacker Brian Orakpo out (sickness), this was a good chance for Murphy to work against veterans. He also went against left tackle Trent Williams a few times. Murphy's spin move worked well against Moses, but Williams was able to stop it on the one time I saw it tried. The coaches like what they've seen from Murphy overall, especially off the field in terms of work ethic.
11. Rookie running back Lache Seastrunk, who lost the ball on a handoff in practice, stayed afterward to work on handoffs with fullback Darrel Young playing the part of the quarterback.
12. Kedric Golston worked at nose tackle with the first defensive line. He's done that in previous workouts this spring with Barry Cofield sidelined. And if he shows it's a spot he can help at during the summer, then it'll be tough to cut him. Golston adds experience and toughness up front, two qualities that should be welcomed. Add a little versatility and it makes him even more valuable, and it also makes it tough for Chris Neild to make the roster.
13. The quarterbacks worked on slant passes during drills with receivers. The quarterbacks dropped back, looked down the middle and then turned toward the receiver running the slant. It's a little thing, but I point it out for this reason: Robert Griffin III's last interception in 2013 came on a slant route. He eyed the receiver the whole way, who then got a good break to make the pick. Sometimes you have to eye the receiver off the line because the pass is coming right away. But in this case it led to the pick.
14. Wasn't able to spend a lot of time watching rookie right tackle Morgan Moses, but did see him get beat by second-year Brandon Jenkins to the outside on one occasion. Moses was too upright and a bit slow with his feet.
15. Jenkins failed to use the proper technique on an inside run, staying too wide and creating a gap inside. The coaches, um, reminded him of the mistake.
16. Said it last week and will continue to point out how much more energy there is during these practices. Some of that could just be because change brings a new energy. But some of it is the style of coaches they now have on staff. Raheem Morris was always vocal under Mike Shanahan, so his ribbing of players and coaches is nothing new. But things were just more lively Tuesday, with trash talking and banter.
17. The field goal kickers attempted three kicks apiece (from 39, 44 and 50 yards) at the narrow goal posts (about half the width of regular ones). Rookie Zach Hocker made all three attempts -- the ball jumped off his foot on the 50-yarder. Kai Forbath missed two of three but on regular goal posts he would have made each attempt.
18. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had a nice bullet to receiver Aldrick Robinson; the pass arrived just before safety Bacarri Rambo for a touchdown.
It’s a lesson almost every receiver learns upon coming to the NFL.
“The most important thing I take away is slowing down,” Grant said. “At the college level it’s go, go, go, go. But here you have to be patient and slow down and pay attention to detail.”
In a best-case scenario for the Redskins – and Grant – he’ll be able to develop while waiting his turn. The Redskins don’t need him to make an immediate impact at receiver, perhaps not even for a couple years. If he does anything right away it’ll be to help special teams. Grant has been working as a gunner on punt coverage and a jammer on punts.
But in order to develop he’ll have to get stronger -- to get off jams and help as a blocker -- and learn to run routes against NFL defenders. Redskins coach Jay Gruden said last month that Grant, “plays like a 10-year veteran already.”
Because Grant won’t threaten a defender deep, allowing them to play tighter, he has to be precise in other aspects of his game. He did not create great separation in college, even at a lower Division I level, but helped himself with smooth routes (he'll still need to get sharper here) and good hands.
“There’s a lot you can do with different angles and techniques to throw a defender off,” Grant said.
He still wants to play fast, but needs to slow down his routes to be in sync with the quarterback. Santana Moss often talks about how he had to learn not to always run his fastest. It’s also a lesson receiver Aldrick Robinson was still learning last season, when he’d arrive at a spot before the quarterback was ready to throw. He might have been open when he got there, but it was too soon.
“It’s about studying the defender and your craft,” Grant said.
Last week, Moss said he didn’t worry about where he stood. This week, Redskins coach Jay Gruden gushed about Moss after Wednesday’s OTA workout, saying he’s had an excellent offseason.
Then he dropped a (strong?) hint as to Moss’ future: “He’s another one that’s going to help this team out.”
No reason to say that if you don’t think the guy will make the roster. Still, I would never call Moss a lock at this point; the Redskins would only be on the hook for $65,000 against the salary cap if he’s cut. His age works against him. He did drop too many passes last season (a drop rate of 8.9 percent according to ESPN Stats & Information). But he has looked spry out there (he's at the age where the word spry gets used more); he's a professional route runner and good to have around.
Here is a quick look at the receivers:
Pierre Garcon: A lock. Next.
DeSean Jackson: Ditto. But perhaps you keep a guy like Moss around to serve as a mentor of sorts for Jackson.
Andre Roberts: Lock.
Leonard Hankerson: Health is an issue. The Redskins still don’t know if he will be ready for the season opener. If that’s the case, then it would be good to have veteran insurance with a guy like Moss.
Aldrick Robinson: He can play all three spots, though has primarily focused on the X receiver spot in the past (where Garcon starts). He improved last season, but we’re still talking about a guy who has 29 career receptions in two full seasons. He doesn’t help much on special teams either.
Nick Williams: Unless he’s a returner, you can’t keep him over a veteran such as Moss unless Williams shows a heck of a lot this summer.
Ryan Grant: The rookie fifth-round pick runs good routes and is a likely a slot receiver in the NFL. But he has a lot to learn and must get stronger. It’s tough to see him being much of a help on special teams or from scrimmage as a rookie. But the coaches like him, and you always favor guys you drafted over those from a previous regime (unless there is a dramatic difference). Moss is far better now, of course. But if Hankerson returns and Robinson shows improvement, you are keeping Grant on the roster for what you think he can do beyond this season. Still, the Redskins could go with seven and keep them all, including Moss.
There are also a number of undrafted free agents on the roster, but it’s tougher to analyze them. They are all considered longshots, or more so players to develop on the practice squad, and that won’t change until the games begin.
You can keep a guy like Moss around as valuable insurance; Roberts’ ability to play more than just the slot means if something happens to one of the starters, you can move him around and plug in Moss. He still has value, even if it’s not as high as it used to be.
And there’s even more talent now.
“It’s fun to be around all these guys,” Moss said, “now that I’m much older. But there’s no age. When you’re out there you’re out there so it’s fun to have different targets.”
The question is, however: Will Moss benefit from those targets in games this fall? Or will he struggle to make the roster? Moss turns 35 on Sunday and is coming off a season that featured 42 catches, but he also dropped seven passes. His drop rate of 8.9 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information, was better than only six of 145 players listed.
If he makes the team he’d no longer be the Redskins’ starting slot receiver. Not after they signed Andre Roberts (and then added DeSean Jackson). More likely, Moss is an insurance policy in case Leonard Hankerson isn’t ready to open the season. Or in case rookie Ryan Grant will take a couple of years to develop. Moss signed a one-year contract with a signing bonus of only $65,000, making him easy to cut if necessary.
"I don't have any decision made right now," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, "as far as our starting two, three, four wide receivers or five wide receivers."
Regardless, Moss, who has caught 571 passes in his Redskins’ career, can’t be bothered by any of this.
“I let you guys do all the worrying,” Moss said. “I don’t worry myself. I put stuff on tape and at the end of the day I make it undeniable for a coach to have to question me. That’s all I do, man. I’ve never been a negative guy so therefore I think positive and as long as I think positive and do what I do, what I know how to do …”
He cut off his sentence and pointed out that he looked sharp in practice. Indeed: Moss looked the same, even catching one deep ball down the left seam. What does it mean? It’s only May, after all. To Moss, though, it means something.
“If you’re watching out there,” he said, “you can see ain’t too much changed.”
- In case you missed it, here are the rookies I took a look at in terms of how they fit with Washington now and in the future: Trent Murphy, Morgan Moses, Spencer Long, Bashaud Breeland, Ryan Grant, Lache Seastrunk and Ted Bolser.
- The one rookie I did not go over in-depth is kicker Zach Hocker. It’s simple: He might not be needed now because they already have a place-kicker in Kai Forbath. It’s not like you typically groom kickers to replace a guy when he becomes a free agent. Yes, coach Jay Gruden said he’d consider keeping two kickers, but that means cutting from another position. So it’s usually simple in these situations: If Hocker outperforms Forbath, he’ll win the job. Practice will matter -- if a guy looks as bad as Shayne Graham did in practice a few years ago, they'll matter quite a bit -- but the games count more. Every single coach I've covered has looked at it that way.
- I’d be more concerned about the punting situation considering the Redskins lack a proven punter. It’s an issue. Robert Malone has experience (157 punts), but was sporadic; too many line drive returnable punts that offset booming ones. For a team desperate to fix special teams, the lack of action here has been curious.
- With the media allowed to watch our first OTA session today, here’s a primer I wrote on what I’ll be looking for. It’s a long list, so it’s really something to watch over the course of the next few weeks and in minicamp. My main focus Thursday: Robert Griffin III. His progress is sort of important to the season, don’t you think?
- Another area to watch: inside linebacker. If Keenan Robinson is healthy and knows the defense, he’s definitely a strong candidate to start. Teammates and coaches have always praised his talent, but those torn pecs keep sidelining him. However, he can move and if he proves he can play the run well, then they have an every-down linebacker.
- If Perry Riley doesn’t rebound with a better season, the Redskins do have more options between Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan. But if the Redskins didn’t value Riley, they wouldn’t have signed him to a decent contract. (He’ll count $3 million against the cap this season; not prohibitive, but the most expensive inside linebacker they have.) They should not make decisions on starters based on contracts, but it is an indication of their thoughts on a player (not to mention the market). But there’s no doubt they want more from him than he delivered last season.
- One name I left off the list the other day: safety Tanard Jackson. It’s really hard to measure a safety until the games begin, but it’ll be interesting to see how he’s moving around after two seasons away from the game. ESPN980’s Chris Russell tweeted last night that a source told him that Jackson has been “awesome.”
- Veterans, if they’re trying hard, should stand out at this time of the year. (I always go back to receiver James Thrash; used to look great in the spring and then in training camp and we’d hear about a possible big role. Then he’d go back to his usual role.)
- The point is, we need to see the safeties come up against the run and tackle; see their recognition at game speed. But if Jackson moves around well, that’s a good start. Jackson was starting to play well when suspended in 2012. It would still be hard to rely on him, but if he gets close to what he was then if nothing else he’s a better backup than what they currently have.
- Another point to make: For all that will be written and said during the spring, nothing really matters until August and they’re in full pads. But this is also the time of year when players are optimistic, having worked on some aspect of their game in the offseason that provides them – and the team – some level of hope.
- Off topic, but it’s noteworthy because it involves an NFC East rival. Sean Lee has missed a lot of time for the Cowboys – a combined 15 games the past two seasons. So they’re used to playing without him. However, I wonder if they needed to rely on him more this season because of what else they lost. Here’s a look at their situation.
Coach Jay Gruden said the Redskins' free-agency signings should allow the rookies to develop without needing to start immediately. I'll take a look at how the rookies fit in and when they might be needed to play bigger roles.
Player: WR Ryan Grant
Why they don’t need him as a starter: They have three rather good receivers in DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Pierre Garcon. Plus Leonard Hankerson adds more depth -- if healthy. There’s also Aldrick Robinson and Santana Moss among the veterans. Washington needs more bodies at this position, but it does not need anyone who must contribute immediately.
Future role: Backup/slot receiver. The Redskins like Grant because he offers some versatility, able to run routes from outside or inside. But his ability to break quickly and catch in traffic will give him a chance inside. He’s not a big-play threat on the outside. But he is a savvy route runner against zone coverages, understanding where to settle. He’s also competitive, which always helps.
When he might need to be ready: 2016-17. The Redskins’ top three receivers all are signed through 2016 so, barring injuries, Grant has time to develop. Injuries always happen at this position, so they could use him to be at least effective before this point. Still, if Hankerson is healthy and Robinson shows any improvement, then Grant can be brought along slowly this season. He has time and will need it.
What he must work on: Strength. Grant is an excellent route runner -- smooth, fluid -- but he’s not a strong player. Being able to defeat press man coverage will be a challenge, though if he’s in the slot he can at least buy himself a little more space to try and win the route. His lack of speed hurts him here, too, as corners won’t be afraid to play him tight. The lack of strength also will hurt his blocking. Despite his route-running ability, he did not always create great separation because of his speed (this was definitely an issue for teams). He dropped too many passes during our one day watching him in the rookie minicamp, but has shown the ability to make excellent catches.
Here's a look at the draft picks from this past weekend:
LB Trent Murphy: Definitely has a variety of moves; did a good job getting to the inside on occasion. Knows how to use his hands – knocked tight end Ted Bolser back on one rush with a good thrust to his chest. Can definitely see why the Redskins feel he can add weight and still be effective. Though strong, he does not appear to be fully filled out.
Murphy needs to work on cutting angles even more and knowing how to finish moves at an NFL level, as coaches discussed with him, like not rounding off too much at the top of his rush. He was not blowing past blockers in camp, but you could see aspects of his game to develop, with his hands and multiple moves -- that, combined with his versatility, is vital and why the Redskins liked him.
RT Morgan Moses: Felt after the draft it would take him a little while and still feel that way after watching him this past weekend. But that’s why he lasted to the third round; it’s tough for a player at his position to start immediately as a rookie. His long arms bailed him out of situations in college and did so again Saturday. But his feet need to catch up quicker.
You could tell he was working on trying to stay low, but at times did not look comfortable because he was bent a little too much at the waist and not the knees. Like Murphy, comes across as smart. (Moses graduated this past weekend.)
OG Spencer Long: Looks comfortable pulling and takes proper angles. Appeared to change directions just fine while pulling, based on a linebacker's movement. In the one-on-one pass drills Saturday, saw him get beat with speed to his outside, but also later saw him anchor well. Saw similar moments -- good and bad -- in his game tape. It’s really tough to get a good feel for a guard in 11-on-11 on some plays because of all the congestion. But he’ll be one to watch in camp.
CB Bashaud Breeland: Physical but will have to learn how to make sure he’s not always getting called for holding or pass interference. He could have been called for holding a few times and pass interference at least once. (He'd work best with a good pass rush; then again, who wouldn't?) It’s definitely something to watch because he wasn’t going against starting NFL receivers. Knows how to play press coverage. Breeland is patient and mirrored receivers well. After talking to him, he has a good understanding of his own game and what he must do.
WR Ryan Grant: He’s smooth in and out of breaks and a mature route-runner; patient. But Grant dropped a few passes (one when he turned his head too soon). He did have one nice grab over the middle with outstretched arms. He made a nice adjustment on another catch. Curious to see if he can get separation against starting corners, especially in man coverage. That’s his challenge moving forward.
RB Lache Seastrunk: First, you absolutely must read this piece on Seastrunk. It’s hard to measure running backs until the games begin. He has terrific moves, but will he always be content to get what’s there and then some or will he look to bounce a lot? We’ll see. His hands were OK when we saw him, but heard there were a few issues in a practice we did not see. One thing that jumped out when talking to Seastrunk: his confidence. He has a lot.
TE Ted Bolser: Did not look like a guy who’d threaten any of the three tight ends ahead of him for a roster spot. When he blocked in college, he too often kept his head down and that got him in trouble at least once Saturday. He’ll need to add strength. Bolser also dropped too many passes Saturday – I think ESPN980’s Chris Russell had him with four at one point. Bolser is a developmental guy, as seventh-round picks should be. But, again, it’s about planning. Niles Paul is in the last year of his contract. They’ll want Bolser eventually to be a move tight end a la Paul -- lining up in different areas; a better blocker on the go than on the line. If Paul leaves and Bolser develops, they have a replacement. That’s how it should work. Plus, special teams will be key.
Place-kicker Zach Hocker: He was accurate, but I can’t say I paid close attention to him. Kickers win their job in games, not practices (unless you’re Shayne Graham and lose it in practice; he was horrendous). It will be an interesting competition with Kai Forbath this summer.
- Tackle Morgan Moses is a big man and stands out in the crowd -- even among his peers. But Moses will always need to work on staying low in his stance. The first time I saw him try to block, he was moving to his left and lunged -- too bent at the waist on other times, too. He’ll have to work on staying balanced. That's what this weekend is for; to start correcting some of these issues.
- But he used his long arms a couple of times to stop Trent Murphy -- also long -- on the pass rush. I’ll be curious to see how he progresses coming off the ball and being able to attack defenders.
- Could tell when he was, or wasn’t, driving off the ball by how he set. A light set did not always mean pass protection, though. But it did mean he wasn’t going to drive off the ball.
- One thing Murphy will have to learn: how to lessen the gap between he and the tackle. Otherwise, it’ll be hard to use his hands. In a one-on-one rush, Murphy dipped and should have had the advantage, but failed to get it.
- After the rush, outside linebackers coach Brian Baker – do not underestimate this guy’s presence – worked with him on dipping his shoulder to complete the move. That’s what this weekend is all about: learning a lesson, then applying it as they move forward. They spoke for another 5-10 minutes after the practice while the other players exited.
- Murphy lined up at left outside linebacker all of practice. Eventually I can see him being moved around; it’s what he did in college and it worked.
- Guard Spencer Long was beaten in a one-on-one the first time I saw him by tryout linebacker Aaron Davis; speed to Long's outside. But the next time he went, Long anchored well. Saw him do that in college, too; strong base. For what it’s worth, Long said he feels normal coming off his MCL tear this past season.
- Did not see all of tight end Ted Bolser’s drops, but others saw them. Did see him get bumped off his route by Murphy -- one thing that was evident on tape is that the ex-Stanford linebacker is comfortable moving in space.
- Corner Bashaud Breeland likes to get his hands on receivers, even after the five yards that are allowed. He’s physical and with long arms. He’ll try to get a subtle grab at the top of a route. Just something to watch this summer.
- But Breeland, playing right corner, is experienced in press. Used good technique on one jam, getting his left hand on the inside of the receiver and bumping him off stride. Did not see a lot of separation from receivers against him.
- Didn’t watch a lot of receiver Ryan Grant, but the one time I did he dropped a pass. Turned his head too soon. I'll pay more attention Saturday afternoon.
- Need to see more of running back Lache Seastrunk catching the ball. In one drill where players weave through cones and then catch a pass, saw a drop. But to measure his hands, need to see a lot more and in game situations. He’s convinced his hands aren’t an issue.
- In a one-on-one drill designed to help special teams, Seastrunk did one of his classic plant and cut moves. He made a hard jab to the left, let the defender bite and then cut back the other way.
- For what it’s worth, Seastrunk told the Redskins he would like a shot at returning kicks. Not sure if that will happen or not.
- The first-year guys in camp: linebacker Will Compton, punter Blake Clingan, defensive back Peyton Thompson, safety Akeem Davis and lineman Tevita Stevens.
The only remaining unsigned rookies are: second-round pick Trent Murphy and the first of two third-round choices, Morgan Moses.
But everyone else has signed their contracts: guard Spencer Long (third round), cornerback Bashaud Breeland (fourth round), receiver Ryan Grant (fifth round), running back Lache Seastrunk (sixth round), tight end Ted Bolser (seventh round) and place kicker Zach Hocker (seventh round).
All of the draft picks are expected to attend the three-day rookie minicamp that begins Friday and runs through Sunday. Ten undrafted free agents and a number of tryout players also will attend.
Here’s a quick rundown on how the signed rookies fit in:
- Long will begin at right guard, where he played at Nebraska, though the Redskins feel he can play all three interior positions. One scout felt he was better at center; the Redskins like him at guard. The Redskins also have former draft picks Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis and Maurice Hurt at guard -- and also signed veteran Shawn Lauvao to start and Mike McGlynn to backup. It’s a crowded field.
- Breeland will compete to be a backup corner, the No. 4 at best. But they expect him to provide immediate help on special teams. Among the other corners jockeying for this spot: E.J. Biggers, Chase Minnifield, Richard Crawford.
- Grant can play in the slot, but needs to get stronger. The Redskins need depth at receiver. They’re set with their top three receivers (DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts). They also have Aldrick Robinson, Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss.
- Seastrunk has a chance to earn playing time this season because of his ability to be a home run hitter out of the backfield, as coach Jay Gruden said Saturday. Seastrunk clearly has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. But he’ll also need to show that he can handle a pass-catching role -- something the Redskins don’t need him to do this year, but will be one they’d like him for in the future. It’s not just about his hands as it is being able to handle pass-protection duties that will matter as well. "I really feel like I can catch the ball very, very well," Seastrunk said. “I feel like I proved that at the combine and at my pro day.”
- Bolser must show he can help on special teams, something he did at Indiana. He likely would be more of a move tight end, rather than someone lining up on the line a la Logan Paulsen. Niles Paul is the No. 3 tight end right now.
- Hocker will challenge Kai Forbath for the place kicker’s job. It’s hard to imagine the Redskins keeping two kickers, though Jay Gruden called it a possibility. Hocker has a stronger leg for kickoffs, but must show he can make field goals in an NFL game. Forbath is 35-for-40 the past two years combined.
Guard Spencer Long (third round)
Note: He's the toughest to assess since the only video available was from 2012, so there's no way to see how much he improved. One game just doesn't cut it, so take this with an asterisk.
What I liked: Showed the ability to pull; in the game I saw he did it probably a dozen times -- and to both sides. Would pull in protection, too, to handle a pass-rusher coming off the left tackle's side. Showed a strong anchor at times, thanks to a wide base. Drove a Penn State tackle off the ball near the goal-line. Did a pretty good job blocking along the line on outside zone runs, the sort he'd handle in Washington. Always looked to hit someone, even after throwing one block. Fights to keep his hands inside.
What I didn't: Got off-balance on occasion, mostly by being too upright. Didn't react well. Was inconsistent recognizing and handling stunts. Lost some of his pop, and therefore the block, on occasion because he was too bent at the waist. Really wish I'd seen him from 2013 to get a better feel.
Summary: Will take a little time, but has the size and ability to move that could help. As a third-round pick, I would expect him to make the roster. As I've written before, one scout told me that he really likes Long as a center (the Redskins like him at guard). The Redskins can't have another third-round guard spend all his time on the inactive list.
Receiver Ryan Grant (fifth round)
What I liked: Willing blocker. Did not back down from anyone, so a good competitor. Seemed to have a good feel against zone coverage, working to give his quarterback the best lane. Saw him make a terrific catch downfield, outleaping two defenders who had boxed him in. Looked to be a pretty smooth route-runner. Seemed to have good hands.
What I didn't: Very little strength, which was evident when it came to sustaining blocks. That can be improved, though, by hitting the weight room harder. But the strength will be an issue in trying to beat press coverage. Not a fast player; had one NFL coach tell me he liked him until he saw him run in person.
Summary: Work, develop, stash and get to 2015 when he'll be in better position to perhaps do something. If Leonard Hankerson is healthy and Aldrick Robinson continues where he left off, it's hard to imagine Grant doing much of anything (barring injuries to others).
Tight end Ted Bolser (seventh round)
What I liked: Did not see this on tape, but he was considered a good special teams player. Seemed to have pretty good hands and settled well against zone coverage. At 6-foot-5, 257 pounds has good size. Able to run routes from all over. I saw him line up in the backfield, slot and along the line and even outside. Willing blocker.
What I didn't: Not a very good blocker, especially against defensive linemen. The good blocks he had were against smaller players from a poor football school (Indiana State). Take it for what it's worth. Too often he put his head down when going to engage a defender -- saw this happen probably a half-dozen times in the game I watched -- which would cause major issues in the NFL. Tough to see him being effective at all in this role. Not a great athlete by NFL standards. Did not have much burst after the catch.
Summary: Will need to improve to beat out Niles Paul for the No. 3 tight end job, unless the Redskins want to keep four at this position. Ability to help on special teams is crucial.
Meanwhile, second-round pick Trent Murphy finished third.
Moses received 48 percent of the 6,436 votes cast compared to 19 percent for Murphy. Fourth-round corner Bashaud Breeland was one spot ahead of Murphy with 20 percent of the votes.
It’s understandable: Murphy was not someone who made a lot of "wow" plays in college, though he clearly was an effective player. He’s not dynamic, relying more on strong hands than explosive feet. But he’s also someone the Redskins say can help provide a pass rush and will help on special teams.
Moses was considered a first-round pick by some analysts, though his play in college did not match that assessment. He was inconsistent in protection and struggled to get to linebackers on run plays. Still, he’s considered good value in the third round because of his athleticism.
Guard Spencer Long did receive at least one mention (by the way, he tore his MCL last season, not his ACL). He’s a guy who could surprise.
Running back Lache Seastrunk received 9 percent of the votes. The remaining 4 percent went to other (we could only include four players on the poll, so the final 4 percent went to the other four players drafted).
Here are some responses, including one succinct – and quite optimistic – take on Moses:
Nicholas Mcconneyhead: “Moses will be the starting right tackle and maybe Pro Bowl selection.”
Art Solano: “The hidden gem here is Lache. This RB was a steal. Once he learns not to bounce too much outside, he is capable of challenging Morris for the spot. This guy can explode for touchdowns. It was a great insurance pickup in case Morris gets hurt or needs a breather.”
Brandon Willis: “It feels weird to call our first pick a sleeper here, but that's what it seems like given some of the comments I've seen about Murphy. I think Moses will start sooner rather than later at RT and I think both Breeland and Seastrunk will produce fairly well considering where they were drafted. But Murphy gets my vote. He's got decent athleticism and a good motor. I see him bringing good energy to the D and special teams and getting a handful of sacks coming off the bench.”
Steve Davis: I know that the receiver Grant seems a puzzling pick to some, but it seems that the kid has good hands and runs crisp routes. I think Wes Welker when I see him (maybe my "reach"). As much as we want to see the present receivers developed, they have been disappointing. Height and speed mean little if you can't get separation. I think Grant will be the future slot receiver and may excel.”
Dan Chang: “I'm thinking Moses like most others, but I'm really hoping it's Breeland. The secondary has been a sieve and while Meangelo had a good year, he's (or Porter) clearly not a long-term solution. Plenty of decent-to-good CBs have come out of the middle rounds, so hopefully we managed to ID and snag one.”
RB Chris Thompson: A year ago he was the flashy new running back who could provide a different dynamic for the offense. Now it’s sixth-round pick Lache Seastrunk. Though Thompson’s college film also was electric, he’s smaller than Seastrunk and more fragile. Thompson will have to show improvement as a returner and that he can stay healthy if he wants to stick around.
RB Evan Royster: He was veteran insurance last season, but it’s hard to imagine him sticking around. Roy Helu is a more dynamic player than Royster and now they added Seastrunk. Of course, it could end up that Royster is, once again, in the same role if they want to keep four running backs (plus fullback Darrel Young).
OG Chris Chester: He did not play as well last year and the Redskins could save $2.7 million in cap space by releasing him. The problem is, his replacement is not clear. McGlynn is probably best suited for center while everyone else remains unproven. Chester will have to be beaten out.
PK Kai Forbath: Anytime a team drafts a kicker (Zach Hocker), that’s never a good sign for the incumbent. Sure, Jay Gruden said he could see the team keeping a kickoff specialist. But teams are always reluctant to give two spots when one almost always should suffice. Hocker must prove he not only has a strong leg, but an accurate one. After all, Forbath has made 35 of 40 field goals the past two seasons, but he doesn’t have a big leg on kickoffs (32nd in the NFL last season with 14 touchbacks). And: They drafted a kicker.
OLBs Rob Jackson and Brandon Jenkins: There’s a chance both can make the roster – it’s not far-fetched to see them keeping five at this position, especially if they want a proven veteran backup and if Jenkins shows improvement. They won’t just toss them aside. But there’s no way they’ll keep five inside linebackers and five outside linebackers. And, inside, they have Perry Riley, Darryl Sharpton, Akeem Jordan, Keenan Robinson and Adam Hayward among others. So the linebacker position in general will be interesting to watch. Someone who can help a team will be released.
OT Tom Compton: He’s made steady progress, but will it be enough. The Redskins drafted Morgan Moses and if he doesn’t supplant Tyler Polumbus, he will definitely be on the roster. They won’t keep three players who only play tackle, so Compton has a lot to prove. Offensive line in general will be a crowded competition.
CBs Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford: The Redskins can keep six corners so even though they’ve added Bashaud Breeland, it’s not a death sentence for both of these players. But the Redskins now have five corners probably ahead of them: DeAngelo Hall, Tracy Porter, David Amerson, E.J. Biggers and now Breeland. But to keep six corners means one fewer safety. So both Minnifield and Crawford could be in more direct competition with one of the backup safeties. Special-teams play will dictate this spot – and Crawford must show his knee isn’t an issue.
TE Niles Paul: He’ll have to be beaten out by seventh-round pick Ted Bolser. But the latter was drafted by the new coach and Paul was drafted by the previous one. Advantage: Bolser. But Paul’s special-teams play has been stellar. But a late-round selection always has to show a lot, otherwise it’s easy to stash them on the practice squad. Had they drafted a tight end in the middle rounds, then Paul’s job would be more in jeopardy.
WR Santana Moss: He was going to have a tough time making the roster anyway, considering they have a slot receiver ahead of him already in Andre Roberts. Now the Redskins added another potential slot receiver in fifth-round pick Ryan Grant. He has experience all over, but his quickness makes him a good fit inside. If he shows he can help, there’s no room for Moss. The Redskins also have Leonard Hankerson, who can play inside (but health will be an issue) and Aldrick Robinson. Nick Williams plays inside, but it’ll be tough for him to win a job. As for Moss, he received only a $65,000 bonus to re-sign, so if he ends up being cut it wouldn’t be a surprise. But it would be a tough ending for a player who did an excellent job for a long time in Washington.