With the finalizing of the 53 man roster and practice squad (two moves on Monday: TE- Wes Sexton, DT- Louis Nix III), the burgundy and gold have shown their continued evolution as a team and franchise, heading into the Monday night season opener against Pittsburgh.
Opting to keep young players such as Deshazor Everett, Nate Sudfeld, Terence Garvin, and undrafted rookie free agent Anthony Lanier over more experienced players (Perry Riley Jr, Cullen Jenkins) and in some instances, positions of perceived need– shows both a clear plan and faith in the roster’s construction now and moving forward.
In Everett, they have a young talent who will make an immediate impact this season on special teams. And if the second year safety’s improvement this offseason was any indication, he’ll become the likely in-house replacement for 1 of 2 safety spots next season (Blackmon or Hall).
As was well documented, Kirk Cousins signed a one-year deal this summer. And good, bad or indifferent, 2017 isn’t promised. Enter Sudfeld. Now no one is saying he’s the next Kirk or even Colt Brennan. But the rookie QB showed more positives than negatives this preseason, to warrant a longer look. And with a growing number of teams experiencing newfound iffy quarterback situations, a practice squad designation was too risky for a player I feel impressed more than many have let on.
Terence Garvin, a young addition in FA for his special teams prowess, showed enough in his defensive snaps last month to make a veteran like Riley expendable at linebacker. His on field work (coupled with the maturation of Martrell Spaight), allowed the team to make a cap flexibility decision, while also getting younger.
Lanier, though not the only undrafted rookie to make this year’s final 53 (#FatRob come on down), is the second sign of how far this organization has come in a short time. A team that used to live in other squad’s pantries, actually released two veteran FA acquisitions on the line (Paea and Jenkins), opting to instead keep the young Bulldog out of Alabama A&M. The 6-foot-6 end, showed flashes throughout camp that caused the organization to take a flyer on the type of raw talent, good teams gamble on.
In the near future, all of these players could either evolve into quality pieces or plateau at their current levels. But the fact that they are all young, bring value this season and offer legit potential solutions for the future, is a telling sign. The last couple years have not been mere lucky crap shoots.
This really is, not your big brother’s Skins squad.