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Projecting the Final 53 with a Few Shakeups | Washington Commanders

Updated: May 9, 2023

By Adam Aniba

Trimming the roster down to the final 53 is always a difficult process for teams. The projections below don't feature any surprise cuts, but a few position groups were affected by injuries/unforeseen circumstances. After the team gets down to the final 53 on September 30th, things could still change. Fans must keep in mind, players from opposing teams will be released and Ron Rivera could add a few players prior to or after Week 1.


*This is the most obvious position group to project with Wentz being the unquestioned starter, after Washington traded multiple draft picks to Indianapolis for him.

Taylor Heinicke is on the final year of his 2-year deal. Rookie QB Sam Howell has impressed this offseason, he could get an opportunity as the season progresses to challenge Heinicke for QB2 after having a productive preseason.

  • Carson Wentz

  • Taylor Heinicke

  • Sam Howell (R)

Running Backs

*After having an impressive offseason and preseason, it was believed rookie RB Brian Robinson Jr. would be the bell cow back heading into the '22 season. Unfortunately, he'll likely start the season on the non-football injury list and miss the first 4 games of the season, after being shot multiple times in an attempted robbery in NE Washington D.C.

On a positive note, reports have surfaced that Robinson should be fine after surgery and play at some point this season, after bullet fragments were removed from his leg/hip. Keeping 4 RB's was unlikely, but with Robinson temporarily out, Jared Patterson will make it as the 3rd RB. in this scenario The plan for Antonio Gibson to be the team's kick returner seem unlikely at this point with Robinson recovering. So AG will get a golden opportunity, after falling out of favor as a potential starter due to his fumbling issues.

  • Antonio Gibson

  • J.D. McKissic

  • Jared Patterson

(Brian Robinson Jr (R) non-football injury list and will not count on the final 53)

Wide Receivers

*No surprises at this position group, but a lot to be encouraged about considering the offseason and training camp Jahan Dotson had. In addition, Curtis Samuel has been an active participant during practice/preseason and is prime to start in vs JAX.

Going down the depth chart, Cam Sims seems locked in at WR4 and should see his share of snaps, especially in the red zone. On the flipside, Dyami Brown has had a disappointing offseason and preseason, he'll make the roster but likely be the odd man out on game days.

Former BYU receiver Dax Milne locked in his spot as the likely WR5 and the teams PR/KR. Although the team has experimented with Gibson and Dotson at returner, Milne will get the lion's share of the returns to start the season.

  • Terry McLaurin

  • Jahan Dotson (R)

  • Curtis Samuel

  • Cam Sims

  • Dax Milne

  • Dyami Brown

Tight Ends

*The TE group has dealt with injuries all offseason, but received good news with veteran Logan Thomas cleared from the PUP list and on track to start Week 1. Behind Thomas, John Bates and rookie Cole Turner have been dealing with nagging lower body injuries all of season as well. Although they are both on track to play Week 1, their durability early on could be a concern leading Rivera to keep an extra TE.

In this scenario, tight end Armani Rogers makes the final cut, after impressing coaches. Unfortunately for some fans, 2021 offseason fan favorite Sammis Reyes was released after agreeing to an injury settlement.

Thomas will likely be on a limited snap count early on, so it feasible that the other tight ends seeing significant action in dual tight end sets.

  • Logan Thomas

  • John Bates

  • Cole Turner (R)

  • Armani Rogers

Offensive Lineman

*The starters at LT, RT and C have been locks all offseason, but the departure of Brandon Scherff and release Ereck Flowers caused a shakeup at both guard slots. Veteran guard and former Panther/Jaguar Andrew Norwell steps into the left guard vacancy and Wes Schweitzer seized the opportunity to take the RG spot. Free agent Trai Turner missed extend time this offseason, hurting hisn opportunity to compete to start.

In year two, Sam Cosmi will be expected to show gains and durability. The depth could be upgraded with Ismael and or Paul being replaced at some point this season, if they don't impress.

  • LT Charles Leno Jr

  • LG Andrew Norwell

  • C Chase Roullier

  • RG/C Wes Schweitzer

  • RT Samuel Cosmi

  • Swing Cornelius Lucas

  • LG/RT Saahdiq Charles

  • G/C Keith Ismael

  • G Trai Turner

  • G Chris Paul (R)

Defensive Lineman

* After the loss of Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis, Washington drafted another Alabama defender in an attempt to replicate their production. The interior lineman are definitely the easiest position to project. On the other hand, the defensive end group will be without Chase Young until October at the earliest and will look for a collective effort opposite Sweat.

Obada could be the odd man out once Young returns, but could find his name on the game day inactive list with JSW, Toohill and Toney likely ahead of him on the depth chart.

  • DT Jonathan Allen

  • DT Daron Payne

  • DT Phidarian Mathis (R)

  • DT Daniel Wise

  • DE Montez Sweat

  • DE James Smith-Williams

  • DE Casey Toohill

  • DE Shaka Toney

  • DE Efe Obada

(Young reserve/pup list out until at leat Week 5 won't count against 53)


*This group is the most concerning position group on the roster. Lack of depth is an issue, but the potential ceiling of Cole Holcomb as the full-time signal calling MIKE linebacker on this defense is a work in progress.

All eyes will also be on Jamin Davis, who was the only starting linebacker to see time in the final preseason matchup vs BAL. He'll kick off the season as the starting WLB, but veteran Davis Mayo could see time rotating for the former 1st round pick.

Lastly, Milo Eifler is the only SLB that makes the final 53 in this projection. Considering that the strong side linebacker will see the filed less than 25% of the time, based on the frequent 3-safety/Buffalo Nickel look, he could be replaced if another higher ceiling linebacker becomes available.

  • MLB Cole Holcomb

  • WLB Jamin Davis

  • WLB/MLB David Mayo

  • WLB Khaleke Hudson

  • SLB Milo Eifler


*This ranks as the 2nd most concerning position group for Washington. WJ3 was a press corner during his time in Cincinnati, but Del Rio relies heavily on zone/cloud coverages with press concepts sprinkled in.

Although Kendall Fuller has the ability to line up at slot and at outside corner, St-Juste is being penciled in as the starting slot corner. After dealing with multiple concussions during his rookie season in '21, coaches are encouraged with St-Juste's growth this offseason.

Depth is a concern with veteran Corn Elder and the rookie Christian Homes rounding out the group, but this is a position that could get an upgrade if a higher ceiling CB becomes available prior to or after Week 1.

  • WIlliam Jackson III

  • Kendall Fuller

  • Benjamin St-Juste

  • Corn Elder

  • Christian Holmes


*The safety group is something to keep an eye on during the first few weeks. Although Kam Curl will be the starting strong safety, the all too familiar Buffalo Nickel will feature a 3-safety look with McCain, Butler, Forrest and Reaves likely rotating based on situation. McCain will likely get most of the snaps as the starting free safety to start the season, but hopes are high that Butler will challenge him at some point.

  • SS Kam Curl

  • FS/Slot Bobby McCain

  • FS Percy Butler (R)

  • FS Jeremy Reaves

  • SS Darrick Forrest


P Tress Way

K Joey Slye

LS Camron Cheeseman

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