Former Redskins return specialist and receiver Brandon Banks
The Redskins have done a great job improving position depth and height over the last few years under Shanahan.
With both Rob Jackson and the even bigger blow of Jarvis Jenkins out for the first four games and with Keenan Robinson likely out for the year, we are about to see just how improved the defense really is at depth.
If I could summarize the transition of players taken off the roster and those put in one phrase, it would be called 'the Midget Dance.'
In an NFL increasingly moving towards bigger players undersized players are being moved out.
The previous Redskins receivers such as Armstrong, Austin, etc. thought YAC was something women do on the telephone. Blocking from these little guys? Forget it. (BTW, before you knock Roy Helu Jr. for Chris Thompson, remember what Helu did with virtually no down field blocking.)
Garcon, Josh Morgan, Hankerson, Briscoe all added a lot of size to the wide receiver corp. But keep in mind also that even though the group transitioned to size, there is always room for a couple little guys in each group (Moss, Robinson). With Moss and Robinson, I think the Redskins hit their non-discrimination quota against short people and that suggests Skye Dawson, Chip Reeves and Nick Williams will be fighting for a practice squad spot (unless the Special Teams short people quota has not been met).
We love Fletch but it's just impossible for someone his height to cover a 6'6" Tight End on a high jump ball. So in came the much taller Keenan Robinson. Now Robinson is out and it's clear he does not have Fletcher's anti-injury genetics. (BTW, one might think the trainers would change the linebacker warm up routine after 4 LB pec tears in less than 14 months).
Look for Tight End coverage to be a potential Achilles heel again for the Redskins defense. I anticipate they'll try using Rob Jackson on tight ends, Biggers as a nickel corner on them, and perhaps bring in Thomas as a 3rd safety in some situations. I am really rooting for Marvin Burdette, but it's hard to justify having both Fletcher and Burdette on the same active roster (again, Special Teams could be his ticket).
Redskins 2013 Draft picks, cornerback Davis Amerson and safety Bacarri Rambo
All 3 secondary draft picks are around 6'1". I think little guy Josh Wilson needs to have a stellar year to be around next year. I think Minnifield's real battle is against the future of Josh Wilson if he can stay healthy. The Redskins may play one short secondary player, but not two on the field at the same time anymore. Amerson is clearly D. Hall 2.0, that is, 2.0 inches taller.
Rushers and tight ends
There's only one position where the trend is just the opposite – running backs. The reason for this is the difficulty for big men to tackle small running backs without over-committing and RG3's magician-like ability to disguise hand-offs works best with short running backs. Shorter running backs also seem to be a bit more durable as they don't take the punishment that taller backs can take and they can hide better behind the lineman as the hole in a zone blocking scheme can take time to open up.
Tight Ends are also a bit of an exception. The tight end group is a relatively new project for the Redskins and as such they are starting with relatively short tight ends (Jordan Reed, Niles Paul). Fred Davis is average to short for an NFL tight end, while Paulsen is your new standard in tall, Jolly Green Giant type of tight ends. I expect the 4 to stay intact with the only serious push coming from an athletic 6'5 plus guy down the road.
This is not to say the short guys will not do well. I think in proper balance, the short guys can do VERY well. There is no reason Aldrick Robinson can't be a TY Hilton-level player this year. Minnifield could make an impact as could a newly healthy Josh Wilson. I think Niles Paul is SO underrated right now, and I expect to see big plays out of him this year.
When predicting who is going to make the Redskins, keep an eye out for the player's size and whether the “midget” quota has been met for a particular position.
Also look for size in the next Redskins draft that will focus on Defensive Ends, Middle Linebackers, another true Free Safety and a new Center as the top needs (I'm optimistic about Compton, Pashos and Nixon either this year or next so perhaps things stay clean for needing a new Right Tackle).
Editor's Note: No Redskins Smurfs were harmed in the creation of this story.
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