All of these players made my final 53-man roster predictions for the 2016 Washington Redskins. As much as I'd love to bowl a 300 here, the likelihood is there will be a gutter ball or two among those picks when players are released before Saturday's deadline. Those mistakes would likely be players on the back end of the roster that I debated until the last second, like Austin Reiter and Deshazor Everett.
The thing is, I'm suggesting the misses might be some quieter names because that's easier to imagine. It's the ones you never seeing coming that provide the WHOA factor. Therefore, here are five players who I have making the team, but could be cutdown stunners and provide a collective WHOA..
Will Blackmon - Hold on here. Blackmon arrived on the fly during the 2015 season, quickly helped stabilize a depleted secondary and has made a rather smooth transition from cornerback to free safety. Oh, he can also help as a returner. So, what's the issue? Basically, it's a Father Time thing. Blackmon turns 32 a few days before Halloween and is backing up soon-to-be 33-year-old free safety DeAngelo Hall, who also made a position switch. What could tip the scales against Blackmon is that 24-year-old Deshazor Everett turned in one impressive performance after another this summer and looks like a rock star on special teams.
Arie Kouandjio - Some thought the 2015 fourth round pick might receive some sincere playing time last season after left guard Shawn Lauvao suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 3. Nope. Some imagined the DeMatha and Alabama product might challenge for the left guard this season seeing as Lauvao was recovering from five surgeries and Spencer Long might shift to center. Nope. Some figured Kouandjio would at least ball out this summer and give the appearance of a read-in-waiting starter if needed. Eh, not really, though there were some positives in the finale against Tampa Bay's backups. Meanwhile Lauvao is healthy, Takoby Cofield and Austin Reiter improved and Washington just signed Vinston Painter.
Kory Lichtensteiger - Let's not be naive about the Bryan Stork trade that didn't happen in the end or the reported flirtation with Alabama's Ryan Kelly in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The Redskins recognize they need help at center. At some point, even if you can't fix the problem ideally, you find the next best solution and move. Long at center with Lauvao at guard gave Washington more of a mauling look in the middle. If Long's sprained ankle doesn't keep hm sidelined for the opener, maybe he starts and Reiter stays with Lichtensteiger moving on.
Rashad Ross - After sporadic work at receiver last season, the speedster led the Redskins this preseason on receptions (11), yards (128) and touchdowns (3). When camp started, Ross said he worked on his route-running so he wouldn't be viewed as simply a deep threat. Mission accomplished. And yet...The Redskins had a deep group of wideouts on the roster beyond those returning and first round pick Josh Doctson. Maurice Harris has great red-zone size. T.J. Thorpe showed physicality. Kendal Thompson made tremendous strides for a player who was a college quarterback last season. Ross stood out, but if one of these other options stood out more and the Redskins think they can replace Ross on kick returns...
Greg Toler - All the players who didn't travel to Tampa were considered roster locks. That's probably true, but...What if the coaching staff wanted to take a longer look at the younger corners -- Kendall Fuller, Lloyd Carrington, Mariel Cooper -- and therefore left Toler behind. They now what the 31-year-old, who rocked training camp, offers. They also know his overall resume. Good corner, but there's a reason they landed him for a basic one-year, $840,000 contract. If Fuller, Dashaun Phillips and Quinton Dunbar can handle nickel and dime duties, do the Redskins really need an older veteran as their sixth corner? Instead, what about Carrington or Cooper? Perhaps no Toler means yes to running back Mack Brown or defensive lineman Anthony Lanier.
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