Barry Cofield is a very good player. But he is a good player in a 4-3 defense. He’s a block-eater by trade, so he seems like he’s most likely destined to fill the hole at nose tackle. But at 306 pounds he’s quite light for the middle man in a 3-4. If he had been signed in March like a normal offseason, maybe the Redskins could have asked him to put on 20 pounds or so over the summer. Now, however, we have a guy who is smallish for the nose role but doesn’t seem to have the skill profile Jim Haslett likes at right end (the first and second down left end job is, or should be, securely the property of Adam Carriker).
So the defense fell apart last year largely because guys were forced into new jobs in the 3-4 that were not a good fit for their skills. In response, the Redskins spent two high draft picks on natural 4-3 players (Ryan Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins) and brought in a free agent 4-3 tackle (Cofield). Alright then.
There had been talk last offseason that the Redskins would run more of a hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense like the Patriots run or the Ravens did until rather recently. Four man fronts were a very rare sight, however, despite being effective when called. Perhaps the tweener skills of guys like Cofield and Jarvis Jenkins will be used to make these multiple fronts more of a reality.
Either way, the defensive line depth chart is pretty tricky right now. And it really gets confusing because we still don’t know how two other variables will pan out:
- Will the Redskins add a free agent end, specifically Cullen Jenkins?
- Will Albert Haynesworth actually show up to camp and more or less participate and contribute?
Maybe we could try to put the linemen into categories:
The as-yet-hypothetical Cullen Jenkins is a three down player, but is best known for collapsing pockets on pass plays.
Haynesworth (almost as hypothetical as Cullen, but for more complicated and annoying reasons) and Vonnie Holliday both have pass rush ability as their main strength.
Jarvis Jenkins and Barry Cofield both might be moved around the line in various spots, but probably mostly used as run stuffers.
Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Truck Neild will be attempting to win a spot as an old fashioned two-gap NT. Whether that job would be as a backup to Cofield seems likely but is not entirely clear at this time.
Adam Carriker is a strong two-gap guy at left end, who has no real role in nickel packages.
Three wild cards: Jeremy Jarmon, Kedric Golston, Philip Daniels
- Golston, at one time a pretty decent 4-3 tackle, was a pure disaster at right end. As a free agent, I would be shocked if he would brought back. But given how unclear everything is about the defensive line right now, nothing can be ruled out.
- We hear only positive things about the coaches’ view of Jeremy Jarmon, but given the sheer number of names we’re throwing around, where does he fit in? [UPDATE: Literally within seconds of me posting this, it was announced that Jarmon was traded to Denver. So that's taken care of.]
- Philip Daniels seems like a long shot – it’s hard to see how he contributes outside of a 4-3, and his very advanced age is an issue. But if he wasn’t in the Redskins plans at all, you’d think that he would have been informed by now simply out of respect. And yet, you don’t keep around a 38 year old who’s a poor scheme fit to compete for the fifth defensive end job. So I truly have no idea what’s going to happen here.
Anyway, glad I could clear things up for you. Good luck coming up with a depth chart prediction out of all that.