Redskins Position Battles Preview

Chris Savold

Started writing for goingfor2.com in the June of 2016. I am the editor of the Potomac Pulse, my school's online publication, and also created Savoldfantasytalk.wordpress.com. The Redskins are far and away my favorite sports team, and the NFL Draft is my favorite part of the season. Fun Fact: My favorite movies are The Fugitive, Lone Survivor, and Tommy Boy

As the Redskins’ offseason concludes and new acquisitions settle with the team, clear positional battles start to form. Rookies with fresh legs begin to potentially push veterans out, and free agents tend to come in with the impression that they will be starting. While every player on the roster wants to start, only 22 of the 53 will actually be able to.

In the past, the most impactful battles have led to Kirk Cousins obtaining the starting QB spot, 6th round pick Alfred Morris beating out Roy Helu as the workhorse RB, and four terrible safeties rotating in and out every year since 2008.
This year, the majority of positions on the Redskins are already set in stone such as QB, OT, and WR, but there are still some major questions that need to be answered.

Running Back: Robert Kelley vs Samaje Perine 

Getting us started, the most followed competition will be running back. Last year, Tulane alum Rob Kelley emerged halfway through the season as a UDFA and put up serviceable numbers in the backfield. While 4.2 YPC is far short of extraordinary, he was consistent and lacks fumbling problems, unlike Matt Jones. Fat Rob got off to a blazing start with a 4.82 YPC average over his first eight games, but he slowed down as the season progressed as he ran for just under 3.5 YPC over the second half of the year. According to PFF.com, Kelley received a 71.0 grade for last season, which ranks him 26th among RBs.

This year, Samaje Perine is Kelley’s competition. Out of Oklahoma, Perine shared a backfield with 2nd round Pick Joe Mixon, but still was able to put up great numbers. He is extremely powerful and physical as a runner and has above average vision to find holes. Perine also set the NCAA record with 472 rushing yards in a single game.

Most likely, the backfield will function as an RBBC for the first few weeks of the season until one of the two comes out on top. If I had to pick, I would go with Perine as he has the potential to be a well above average RB in the NFL, while Kelley does not.

Prediction: Perine

Inside Linebacker: Mason Foster vs Will Compton

The free agent acquisition of former Bills’ ILB Zach Brown will push either Will Compton or Mason Foster out of a job.

Last year, Compton and Foster both started 16 games and combined for 1,710 snaps. While Compton leads all returning defenders aside from Josh Norman in snaps, he’ll most likely be a backup next season. The former UDFA is the definition of grit and hustle, but he simply was too much of a liability in coverage and missed far too many tackles. Though Jay Gruden loves him, his time as a starter in Washington may be up. On the other hand, Foster had the best year of his career in 2016.  Pro Football Focus ranked Foster as a top ten ILB with a rating of 86.3. 

Prediction: Foster

3rd Corner Back: Kendall Fuller vs Fabian Moreau

For the second consecutive year, the Redskins’ selected a CB with their 3rd round pick. Moreau and Fuller are similar in their profiles as a prospect. Both could have had 1st round grades, but they suffered an injury which dropped their stock significantly.

In his rookie year, Kendall Fuller struggled from the slot constantly. His tight hips allowed slot WRs to get an easy break open to the inside, which exposed the Redskins secondary. His poor level of play might also have been caused by nagging injuries, which should be gone this season.

Moreau is a physical freak (6’2 206 lbs) who is also extremely fast (4.33 40). He is a consistent tackler on the edge and excels in press coverages. The negative for Moreau’s profile appears with the mental side of the game. The UCLA alum’s processing speed is below average.

I expect Fuller to start off the season as the starter, as Coach Jay Gruden will want to see him perform without any injuries slowing him down.

Prediction: Fuller

 

Will OLB: Trent Murphy vs Preston Smith vs Ryan Anderson

The starting OLB opposite Ryan Kerrigan could be any of three options. For three of the last four years, the Redskins front office has draft OLBs in the second round.

Trent Murphy had the best year of his career last year with nine sacks, but a four-game PED suspension will force either Smith or Anderson to be the starter week one. Another possibility for Murphy is a position change. Prior to Junior Galette‘s season-ending injury last year, Murphy was practicing at DE.

Preston Smith, who had five sacks in the last three games of his rookie year, struggled with consistency last season. Though he provided pressure to the quarterback, he rarely finished sacks. Smith no doubt has potential but in order to solidify his playing time he needs to bounce back in his third year.

At this point, it seems Ryan Anderson may be the favorite for the week 1 starter. Out of Alabama, Anderson poses almost no clear weaknesses and excels against the run. Alongside that, Gruden may roll with him to one important quality: He’s a football guy.

Prediction: Anderson

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Started writing for goingfor2.com in the June of 2016. I am the editor of the Potomac Pulse, my school's online publication, and also created Savoldfantasytalk.wordpress.com. The Redskins are far and away my favorite sports team, and the NFL Draft is my favorite part of the season. Fun Fact: My favorite movies are The Fugitive, Lone Survivor, and Tommy Boy

Chris Savold

Started writing for goingfor2.com in the June of 2016. I am the editor of the Potomac Pulse, my school's online publication, and also created Savoldfantasytalk.wordpress.com. The Redskins are far and away my favorite sports team, and the NFL Draft is my favorite part of the season. Fun Fact: My favorite movies are The Fugitive, Lone Survivor, and Tommy Boy

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