The Washington Redskins certainly hope the additions of free agents Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee boost a defensive line which struggled last season. On the surface, a generous interpretation has the unit breaking even with the two new big guys replacing Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois. We'll see. All can agree more help is needed, particularly at nose tackle.
“Right now we’ve got [A.J.] Francis, we’ve got Joey [Mbu], and we’ve got Phil Taylor,” defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said recently during an interview on ESPN 980 about three players who could end up playing key roles in 2017 despite havig minimal name recognition among casual fans. “Now we’re getting those three guys in the mix and we’ll see how it pans out.” The new coordinator also said, "“Right now, we might be in a situation where we’re looking for a nose in the draft."
Now that last sentence is the likely and perhaps ideal scenario at this point. The frenzied aspect of free agency is no more nearly two weeks in. Some potentially helpful options remain, but probably few long-term solutions. That's the hope with the draft.
Problem: By the numbers, this isn't a year to plan on landing a nose tackle early in the Draft.
Now, this doesn't mean the Redskins can't find a run-stuffer or an interior pass rusher or a prospect with those and other attributes. It's just that there aren't many of them deemed worthy of first or second selection.
When looking at four NFL Draft sites that rank at least the top 100 players -- CBS, ESPN, DraftTek, Sporting News -- only five defensive tackle types are among the top 100 prospects on each: Jonathan Allen (Alabama), Malik McDowell (Michigan State), Caleb Brantley (Florida), Montravius Adams (Auburn), Dalvin Tomlinson (Alabama).
The Redskins own the 17th and 49th selection along with eight selections between rounds 3-7.
Allen is a projected top-5 overall selection. Three of the four sites slot McDowell 20-21. However, the Michigan State product is a 3-4 end or 4-3 tackle, but isn't built to line up directly over the opposing center.
Brantley is. Problem: Despite some earlier first round buzz, none of the four sites rank him higher than 41 overall among all prospects. The collective projections have Adams (High 39, low 88) and Tomlinson (54, 79) on the 2-3 line. Other nose tackle prospects with Day 2 potential include Jaleel Johnson (Iowa), Carlos Watkins (Clemson) and Elijah Qualls (Washington). Michigan's Chris Wormley could hear his name called in the second round, but, like McDowell, isn't a true nose tackle.
Of course, the Redskins could find gold in the later rounds. Baker went undrafted in 2009 and became Washington's top lineman over the past two seasons. Nobody should count on immediate success with this scenario and, based on the current options, Washington needs just that. Drafting for need isn't always wise if it means reaching. The Redskins arguably need a boot at inside linebacker, guard, running back and safety. Yes, maybe quarterback.
With the No. 17 pick, it would appear any nose tackle type would be a stretch. Maybe that's not the case in the second round, but there just aren't that many big men projected in that range and other teams have comparable holesThat's why looking for a tackle is one thing, but planning on landing one is another.