Strength: The Redskins best leader, London Fletcher, plays in the middle.
He's excellent at diagnosing plays which makes him seem that much quicker. Fletcher should do well behind the tackle tandem of Cornelius Griffin and Albert Haynesworth. Rocky McIntosh is great at taking on blockers. Brian Orakpo offers athleticism at the strongside spot.
Weakness: Fletcher is 34 and does not make many big plays.
He tends to wear down in the second half of seasons. McIntosh's knees remain a problem, which is why teams stayed away from him in the draft. Can anyone name a play he's made? The depth is adequate; wouldn't be surprised to see them re-sign Khary Campbell at some point. We know as of a month ago that they still had interest. H.B. Blades is adequate but it's tough to win in the NFL with two short starting linebackers.
Key question: Can Orakpo transition to SLB?
He has to, but it will be difficult after spending college as an end. Yes he played some SLB at Texas, but athleticism overcomes sins in college. In the NFL it can only cover up so much. After OTAs some of his teammates privately wondered if he could make the transition – or at least make it enough to provide immediate help. Some of it will be recognition; some of it is getting used to dropping into coverage. Typically, this transition takes a while. Fortunately for him he can make an impact at rush end=2 0while still learning this spot.
The verdict: The linebackers are the biggest questions on the defense.
The line with Haynesworth should be good. The secondary will be a strength. But the LBs? Cross your fingers. They're lucky to be surrounded by good players, but they still have issues, such as McIntosh's knees, Fletcher's age and Orakpo's inexperience. Fletcher is the least of the worries and likely will continue to prove people wrong. But he's not a Pro Bowler.
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for Warpathinsiders.com. He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at dcexaminer.com
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