Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Redskins position preview: Defensive line

Alright, time to get work. I'm going to start with the defense because a) I like defense and b) there were three defensive signings yesterday that happened after I posted my initial 53 man roster prediction, so we may as well start on this side of the ball and see how those change things.

As you'll recall from yesterday, this is how I originally had the defensive line depth chart shaking out:

Defensive Line
Starting ends: Adam Carriker, Stephen Bowen
Starting nose tackle: Barry Cofield

Backup ends: Jarvis Jenkins, Darrion Scott
Backup tackles: Anthony Bryant, Chris Nield
Regular readers will know that I have a lot of confidence in Adam Carriker on the left end, Stephen Bowen is a very talented addition on the right. And Jarvis Jenkins should be assumed to have potential as a second round pick, and the gushing tweets and write-ups from reporters at training camp suggest he could be a real find (with the usual caveat that he hasn't even had a full pad practice, etc).

I was puzzled by the Vonnie Holliday trade, because while I am all in favor of getting younger a four man rotation of Carriker, Bowen, Holliday, and Neild struck me as potentially very effective - not to mention a nice mix of established talent, veteran experience, and youthful potential. Holliday's absence is why you see Darrion Scott - a fourth end had to come from somewhere.

The re-signing of Kedric Golston could change that. Despite his dreadful performance on the line last year, Golston is a mainstay on the special teams units and that is an obvious advantage to making the roster.

The other variable is Barry Cofield. He played 4-3 tackle for the Giants, so his skill set can either be called "versatile" or "a poor scheme fit" depending on how you are inclined to judge incompletely filled water glasses. The upshot is, there is a realistic possibility that he could wind up seeing some time at end. And having him as the de facto 4th end means you can afford to spend a roster spot on a special teamer or a young guy who you don't yet trust with serious playing time.
If Cofield is a full time tackle and nothing else, then keeping three guys may or may not make sense. It would probably be a straight up competition between Bryant and Nield for the backup job, with Nield at a natural disadvantage because he is practice squad eligible.  But given that Bryant, according to Vonnie Holliday, had trouble getting motivated to put the work in necessary to take over a starting job even as Ma'ake Kemoeatu was trying his damndest to give it away... well if Bryant hasn't seen the light after his taste of a starting spot then Nield could certainly be in the mix.
So how good is this bunch? Talent-wise, pretty good. But remember these points:
- Jarvis Jenkins and Barry Cofield are coming from 4-3 defenses and learning new jobs.

- Stephen Bowen played in a 3-4 in Dallas, but it was the Wade Phillips 3-4 which is unusual due to its nearly exclusive use of one-gap play. In fact, conceptually it doesn't work like other 3-4s at all. So he is learning a new scheme as well.

- Jarvis Jenkins is a rookie, and as caveated above a few impressive training camp practices (in shells) don't mean much. When I see him tossing around linemen from an opposing team, I will let myself get excited.

In other words, this defensive line has the potential to be much better than last year's, but until we see them in some games the jury is out.


  1. Just wanted to note that I read an interview in which Cofield said that he used to play the 34 in college and he was actually surprised when the Giants picked him with a 43. Not as big of a jump as you are making it out to be here.

  2. Anthony Bryant can be a beast!! He needs stay focused and realize what kind of opportunity is i front him!! He can be a huge asset (no pun)!!

  3. bring Dsniels and get rid of Scott. How did you grade Daniels' performance last year. He's a true Redskin and has the frame for a 3-4 end

  4. Frankly, when Daniels played last year he showed that he had little to offer in this defense.