Redskins Position Group Breakdown: Defensive Line
There’s a youth movement on the defensive line for the Redskins. The average age for the group is just a mere 25 years old, which is the beginning of any defensive lineman’s prime playing careers. Jim Tomsula’s tutelage will be embedded throughout the remainder of most these player’s careers. Jonathan Allen was the Redskins’ first round pick this year, and was undoubtedly the best defensive lineman in the draft this year, no disrespect to Solomon Thomas who’s up there with Allen in talent. The exact position Allen will play – and for that matter the positions of the entire group – is not yet defined.
In a brief interview with ESPN 980 this week, Allen stated his position coach, Tomsula, told each defensive lineman “they were going to be cross-training every position, including nose tackle”. For the football nerds, each defensive lineman that’s on the final 53 will have experience with 5-technique, 0-technique, and playing in a 2-gap scheme. So although many expect Allen to line up at end, don’t be surprised if there are occasional snaps where he is right the between center and guard in their base defense.
Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are the team’s newest additions via free agency this off-season. McGee and McClain inked contracts for $25 and $21 million respectively. This is the latest attempt from the team to finally put an end to the run defense woes, as the strengths of both McGee and McClain lie in defending the run. At 341 lbs, McGee is among the bigger defensive lineman on the roster. I expect McGee, McClain, along with Ioannidis, to get the most looks at nose tackle for this team.
Ioannidis’ rookie season was not good. The 5th round pick started the season on the practice squad before being promoted after an injury knocked Kedric Golston out for the season. Ioannidis struggled at the nose position. Anthony Lanier is also 2nd year player trying to improve upon a rookie season. He showed flashes as a versatile lineman who can make some noise in the opponent’s backfield a couple times per game. That’s one person I’ll be keeping my eyes on in training camp and pre-season.
Back to nose tackle
Finding a nose tackle has been by far the hardest position on the line for the Redskins to acquire since transitioning to the 3-4, this year though I think they’re plenty of players capable of playing that position effectively.
UDFA Ondre Pipkins and 5-year pro Phil Taylor are the catalyst not mentioned earlier who are capable of playing nose tackle as well. Pipkins has had a very good off-season. There were positive reports on the rookie from rookie minicamps to mandatory minicamps. Phil Taylor was last playing in Cleveland in 2014. Injuries caused the lineman to miss the 2015 and 2016 seasons. So, Taylor is in a position where he first has to prove he can still play well, and secondly stay healthy. When healthy, Taylor was a productive player for the Browns. The Browns defense was 8th in yards per rush in 2013 when Taylor played 15 games.
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