Yes, the Washington Redskins drafted Jonathan Allen in the first round in April. But let’s not forget some of the other newcomers on the defensive line.
The front office of the Washington Redskins have spent the last three months filling a few holes on offense. But the majority of work from team president Bruce Allen and staff has been on defense. And that’s with good reason. This is a team that’s allowed the fifth-most total yards per game in the NFL each of the past two seasons.
The excitement surrounding the selection of University of Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen is justified. It was a surprise he slipped to the 17th spot in the first round two months ago. He has the potential to make a big impact in his rookie campaign.
But in some ways, it was the cherry on the sundae for the defensive front. It started way back in January. The team inked one-time Cleveland Browns’ first-round pick Phil Taylor to a futures contract. Injuries have derailed his career and he hasn’t seen the field since 2014. But it will be intriguing to see if he can push or at least provide depth behind current starting nose tackle Ziggy Hood.
Shortly after the free-agent market opened in March, the Redskins watched free-agent defensive linemen Chris Baker depart for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Allen offset that move with the additions of Stacy McGee (Oakland Raiders) and Terrell McClain (Dallas Cowboys). You won’t find either player, as well as Hood, near the top of Pro Football Focus’ grades on interior defensive linemen. But McGee (limited to only 9 games in ’16) can play inside or outside. McClain didn’t grade out well with the Cowboys this past season but like McGee, has some versatility.
Of course, this is where new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula comes in – as well as coordinator Greg Manusky. They need to find the right combination(s) to help a team that has had its share of issues when it comes to stopping the opposition – most notably against the run. And while former national champion Jonathan Allen is clearly the headliner here, the real progress this season may depend on three veterans looking to come together now as first-time members of the Washington Redskins.