This edition of the Washington Redskins position preview will focus on the defensive line. The front line gave a solid performance last season, but struggled against the running game, allowing an average of 122 yards a game. The Redskins have added talent to other defensive positions, but were quiet concerning linemen. It will most likely be up to returning veterans to improve upon last year’s performance.
Players on the roster
The three potential starters for 2016 are returning Redskins players who saw significant playing time last season. Kedric Golston is a 10 year Washington veteran with a wealth of experience. His numbers aren’t stand out material, but he is a reliable work-horse player who can get the job done in short yardage situations. Stephen Paea joined the Redskins in 2015 after four years with the Chicago Bears. He has proved he can be a pass rusher, a beneficial skill for any team. Chris Baker has been a Washington staple for a while now, and has shown talent each season. He can put up impressive tackle numbers, as well as provide pass rush. The other candidate for a starting position is Ricky Jean Francois, a veteran with solid numbers in his seven seasons, including 2015 with the Redskins.
Recent additions to the team:
Washington also has several other players to provide back up to the three starters. Kendall Reyes, a San Diego Charger the last four years, played in every single game in each of those seasons. He is a strong tackler with a tendency of getting to the quarterback. He seems to be more adept in covering the pass, with an interception and four deflected passes in 2015, which is impressive for a defensive lineman. Ziggy Hood is similar to Reyes in his numbers and impact, with the majority of his seven year experience taking place with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both have proven to have endurance, avoiding injury, a good characteristic to have. Jerrell Powe has seen only limited playing time in the pros, but would provide a decent reserve in case of injury. Two other players, Corey Crawford (Clemson) and Anthony Lanier (Alabama A&M), also hold spots on the roster. Both were undrafted, but the team is giving them a chance to work out.
Potential breakout player
Washington was quiet in the draft when it came to defensive linemen, but did add one in the fifth round. Matt Ioannidis (Temple) has an impressive four years under his belt at the college level. He finished the 2015 season with 42 tackles and three sacks, which speaks well for his talent in the trenches. It is projected the returning players will start, but if no improvement is shown, Ioannidis could see significant playing time if given the chance. He may be from Temple, but guys from small schools are usually itching to make an impact.
An improvement in running defense would certainly benefit the Redskins. Last year’s defensive performance hurt the team in both the regular season and the playoffs. The offense, especially Kirk Cousins, proved it could get the job done, but it needs help. A balanced team is a successful team. Hopefully the returning veterans can step up.
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