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Need to Know: Redskins need to start D-line rebuild in the draft

Feb 20, 2015, 5:04 AM EDT


INDIANAPOLIS—Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 20, 18 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

While I’m here at the NFL Combine this week, I’m going to change it up a bit. I’m going to pose the question each morning centered around the draft and the position group that will be talking to the media on that day. You can find the daily schedule here. Up today, the defensive line.

Will the Redskins start to rebuild the defensive line in the draft?

The Redskins’ defensive line is in need of a rebuild and they could start the process in this year’s draft.

The team is notorious for preferring to spend free agent dollars on the defensive line rather than premium draft picks. In the past 10 drafts they have spent just one pick in the first five rounds on a defensive lineman (other than Ryan Kerrigan, a college defensive end who was immediately converted to 3-4 outside linebacker). That was Jarvis Jenkins, was a second-round pick.

Rather than drafting and developing the Redskins have gone the free agent route. While they got some good seasons out of Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, both of whom signed free agent contracts in 2011, both are at a predictable point—aging (both will be 31 soon), injured (both missed substantial portions of last year with injuries) and expensive (cap charges of a combined $15.7 million and combined $9.6 million in dead cap space to cut them).

If they do go through the draft, there are a couple of considerations with their first selection, No. 5 overall. If USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams is there they probably won’t wait long to turn in a card with his name on it. Some consider him to be the top prospect in the draft but if circumstances come together he could fall to them.

The other possibility is Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton. At 6-2, 343 he checks off the “large” box that McCloughan looks for with room to spare. He also showed plenty of durability, playing over 900 snaps for the Huskies in 2014.

If they bypass those players, Malcolm Brown of Texas, Eddie Goldman of Florida State and Jordan Phillips of Oklahoma could be available later on.

At some point the Redskins have to restock the defensive line. Looking at some of the players who might be available this year would be a smart strategy.


—It’s been 54 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 205 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 18; Redskins offseason workouts start 59; 2015 NFL Draft 69

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. sidepull - Feb 20, 2015 at 6:20 AM

    They can start the rebuild by drafting Danny Shelton. I hope that is what happens unless of course Williams falls but that’s pretty unrealistic.

    • 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 7:50 AM

      I agree with selecting Sheldon in the first. Cowboys are the reigning NFC conference champs…( hurts to even type let alone say aloud ) They have #1 picks all over their O-line, it would only make sense to build a D-line to rival them. The ol’ saying goes “build your team to win the division first” , and I believe getting Sheldon or Williams would be a step in that direction.

      • deepball1 - Feb 20, 2015 at 8:45 AM

        here is the problem with Shelton: this is a passing league. You can stop the Patriots running game all day and still give up 45 points because of Brady throwing 5 yard TD passes. Same goes for Manning or Romo.

        The Redskins will continue to give up points to the Cowboys, Giants, and Eagles until they can get pressure on the QB. This is why they need a speed rusher to replace Orakpo’s pathetic .5 sack….that is POINT 5 of a sack. Shane Ray or Randy Gregory is a better pick than Danny Shelton.

        • 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 9:14 AM

          So the point your trying to make is that the Skins need to draft an undersized speed OLB? I’m almost certain a TRUE NT (something Washington does not have) would collapse the pocket on pass plays and also eat up a C and G on run plays. Sheldon would be much more effective then the your two suggestions. I doubt Ray or Gregory would even start over Murphy. Just because Murphy was not a 1st round pick and don’t run a fast enough forty for your liking, doesn’t mean he can’t be productive. He DID lead the NCAA in sacks his last year at Stanford. He’s a high effort guy in the mold of Kerrigan, give him a chance. Washington only needs depth at OLB in my opinion.

        • captblood3000 - Feb 20, 2015 at 9:45 AM

          That’s not what he’s saying. The Redskins need playmakers on defense, and they should be able to get one at #5.

        • 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 10:07 AM


          Shane Ray – 14 sacks, 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 PD, 0 INTs

          Randy Gregory – 7 sacks, 0 FF, 0 FR, 0 PD, 0 INTs

          Yup, sure looks like they’re playmakers…

          For fun here’s Murphy’s 2013 stats ( although he played a mix of DE/LB at Stanford )
          15 sacks, 2 FF, 0 FR, 6 PD, 1 INT, 1 TD

          Your idea of a “playmaker” seems to depend on how fast he can run in shorts.

        • captblood3000 - Feb 20, 2015 at 10:18 AM

          Has it occurred to you that Murphy is not as well suited to play RIGHT outside linebacker as some of these prospects? What are his statistics for half an NFL season?

        • 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 10:35 AM

          Better then Orakpo’s stat line.
          Murphy had 2.5 sacks, 1 FR , and , 1 PD ( dropped pick he tipped to himself ala Kerrigan)

          IMO, Murphy will play better this year as he got the nerves out and knows what to expect. That plus Orakpo won’t be the one taking all the first team reps.

        • 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 10:42 AM

          If your argument is simply that Murphy is not suited for ROLB, why not have Kerrigan move into Orakpo’s spot and have Murphy at LOLB? Ohh, that’s right… I forgot his forty isn’t fast enough to be productive, right?

        • captblood3000 - Feb 20, 2015 at 12:18 PM

          If you had such good arguments you would not be asking me questions and answering them for me. You would not invent what I or deepball believe. We have a new GM who will be putting little stock in how fast guys “run in shorts”. Our point is that the Redskins need playmakers on defense. They don’t get off the field on third down. The best players can do that for you.

        • 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 12:54 PM

          I’ll ask again. What playmakers are you talking about? There isn’t going to be an edge rusher taken in the draft before the Falcons pick… The prospects just aren’t very good. So who’s the defensive playmaker they draft not named Sheldon or Williams?( provided he slips)WR or DL will most likely be BPA at #5 depending on how you look at it.

        • captblood3000 - Feb 20, 2015 at 4:12 PM

          Ask again? This is first time you’ve asked. (Go back and look.) But Deepball already named Gregory and Ray, and I would add Dante Fowler to that list. BTW, Fowler is the biggest of the three.

          If you think none of these 3 guys will be a top 7 pick, you owe us a list of 7 players who will be selected before them. When you name Brandon Scherff or Landon Collins, you lose. You underestimate the value of pass rushers.

        • 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 4:53 PM

          As history has shown to repeats itself.

          Here are the edge rushers taken in the first round by 3-4 teams going back to 2010.

          ’14 -#1 J. Clowney, #23 Dee Ford, #26 Marcus Smith

          ’13-#17 Jarvis Jones, #24 Bjoern Werner

          ’12-#16 Quinton Coples

          ’11- #7 Aldon Smith, #16 Ryan Kerrigan

          ’10-#10 Brandon Graham (taken before they made the switch to 3-4)

          Of the guys taken INSIDE the top 10 ( only two Clowney and Aldon) they were freakish althetes with undeniable talent, the same cannot be said for the guys coming out of this draft. You are confusing want/need with the talent that is available. The Skins would only be hurting themselves by reaching at #5 for a PR.

        • captblood3000 - Feb 20, 2015 at 5:12 PM

          You include only 3-4 teams in your list. How convienent! So defensive ends or a 4-3 outside linebacker like Von Miller, whose main job is to rush the passer, won’t appear on your list.

          I asked you for 7 players who will be selected before Ray, Gregory or Fowler. I get this crock instead. It seems you can only answer your own questions, not anyone else’s. I’m done with you.

      • 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 5:17 PM

        Look at the bottom of the feed… And yes I left undersized 4-3 OLB off the list like Von, because was is a 3-4 team… Or do you watch football?

  2. bk70 - Feb 20, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    2015 DL Jason Hatcher, Danny Shelton and Arik Armstead. This is possible.

    • pdxskin - Feb 20, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      If we got Shelton the first and Armstead was still there when we picked in the second, I would have no complaints about that draft!

  3. 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 8:50 AM

    Rich what are the chances ( if any ) that Washington takes a TE early(ish) say 3rd or 4th round, and pick up a guy in F/A to free up Reed to play more of a WR roll. I remember last year Gruden joked about how trim he looked coming in for OTAs, and that he need to remind him he was still a TE. Based on McC’s preference for bigger players, does this make any sense? Reed is on the smaller side for TE and the move would make him Washington’s biggest WR.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 20, 2015 at 10:00 AM

      If a TE is the best available when they draft, they likely will take one. Doesn’t seem like a deep class and in-line TE’s are getting to be more and more rare in college so not sure how good the chances are. But it could work out.

      • pdxskin - Feb 20, 2015 at 11:02 AM

        I’d like to see them draft a big/tall developmental TE in the later rounds who could at least come in on red-zone situations to provide a coverage mismatch – like Jesse James or Blake Bell, for instance?

      • captblood3000 - Feb 20, 2015 at 12:31 PM

        Supply and demand. I could see the Redskins signing a tight end in free agency in addition to resigning Niles Paul.

    • abanig - Feb 20, 2015 at 12:25 PM

      I honk its a good possibility the Redskins draft a TE in the mid rounds and sign a free agent TE who’s a good blocker to replace Logan Paulsen.

      Like you said, freeing up Reed to play more of a H-back, receiver out of the backfield & WR type role, particularly on third downs and on the goal line and allowing those other bigger TEs to be the end line guys.

      I think they should also use Niles Paul (if he’s re-signed) in an H-back type role also but if they draft and sign a TE, Paul may be gone.

      They also still have Darrell Young who can be the h-back and receiver out of the back field as well.

      I also had a thought of using Young on third downs the way the Cardinals & Redskins used to use Larry Centers. I think Young would flourish as a blocker and receiver out of the backfield on third downs.

      • Joe Greene - Feb 20, 2015 at 11:08 PM

        I’d be very interested to see Young get his playing time increased for use in a role like that. He’s taken to everything else that’s been thrown at him so it can’t hurt to see if he can do that as well.

  4. shermanp79 - Feb 20, 2015 at 9:46 AM

    If Williams ever did fall to us it would be a great Draft Day. I just don’t see it happening. If 2 teams take QBs it still leaves 2 teams he must slide past. It won’t happen. That meaningless win at the end of the year dropped us too low. Even being bad, they can’t catch a break. I have concerns about Shelton, there has been talk about him taking plays off, will that be a problem going forward. It would be great to have a Wilfork type guy in the middle for 10 years but I think #5 is too high to take him. This line needs a couple of Drafts to get the building going, maybe this year grab a guy in the 2nd round. The best hope is to have one of those QBs drop then trade down. It is what this team needs the most….more picks.

  5. mr.moneylover - Feb 20, 2015 at 10:42 AM

    They got three good options with that #5 pick…S.Ray L.William and D.Shelton

    • mr.moneylover - Feb 20, 2015 at 10:47 AM

      S.Ray is up there right along with L.Williams thats why I say I wouldnt be mad if they took one of them they both playmakers and I think its very possible we take danny shelton if S.Ray nd L.Williams off the board already when we pick at number 5

      • pdxskin - Feb 20, 2015 at 11:09 AM

        I would take Shelton over Ray, hands down, if we aren’t able to trade out of #5…. there are lots of edge rushers in the draft, but an elite NT (potentially of the Vince Wilfolk / Casey Hampton variety) doesn’t come around very often.

        • bangkokben - Feb 20, 2015 at 11:37 AM

          Agreed. Rob Ninkovich is great for New England but without Wolfork who is he? Shelton could elevate everyone on the team.

        • redskinscaio - Feb 20, 2015 at 12:33 PM

          The Patriots are the Patriots because of their elite offensive line protecting Tom Brady. Come one, they took Blount, who got cut from the Steelers mid season, and made him look like pro bowler. Offensive line, offensive line, and OFFENSIVE LINE!!!!!

  6. abanig - Feb 20, 2015 at 12:17 PM

    I’ll say it again. Danny Shelton, Danny Shelton! Lol

    He’s gotta be the pick Imo. Like you said, rebuild the aging and overpaid DL

  7. redskinscaio - Feb 20, 2015 at 12:30 PM

    Mr. Tandler, you nailed it on the head. The Skins would commit economic suicide if they took a defensive lineman with their first pick. They already have 16 million invested on Bowen and Coffield. That doesn’t even take into account Hatcher who they just got last year as an expensive free agent. They need offensive line help in the worst way. There’s only one safety under contract. They also could uprade the middle linebacker position. But drafting a DT with the first pick, when they already have so much of the cap already invested there is salary cap suicide. SALARY CAP SUICIDE!!!

  8. 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 5:08 PM

    For the list of names that I “owe”

    Cooper, Parker, Mariota, Williams, Winston, Sheldon, Perryman. Seven names in no particular order. With the eighth pick by ATL being Dupree or Fowler.

    • captblood3000 - Feb 20, 2015 at 5:31 PM

      Perryman drafted before any edge rushers? Really? And not one but two wide receivers? This is a fail.

      • 214hof - Feb 20, 2015 at 5:40 PM

        Lol why is it so hard to believe that two WR and a stout MLB go before mediocre PRs like Ray and Gregory? Oakland and the Jet are in need of help just about every where.. Who says Washington doesn’t stick to BPA regardless of position and takes a WR a pick after the Raiders?

        • captblood3000 - Feb 20, 2015 at 11:40 PM

          Miller is first and foremost a pass rusher. You throw out pass rushers drafted by 4-3 teams, then say “see this proves my point”. So you are at best disingenuous. At worst, you are dishonest.

        • captblood3000 - Feb 20, 2015 at 11:48 PM

          I now discount anything you post. Watch Perryman go in round 2. MLB is another position less valued today.

        • 214hof - Feb 21, 2015 at 6:14 PM

          Bring Miller’s name up just furthers my point I’m trying to make. Miller was taken at #2, he was everything your were looking for from a PRODUCTION stand point. If Ryan Kerrigan had of run under a 4.6- 40, he doesn’t even fall to Washington at 16. The PRs that get taken 5 and up are usually no Brainers, just because you feel Washington needs a PR doesn’t mean that there is one worthy of the pick( see Phines, Dion Jordan )

  9. Joe Greene - Feb 20, 2015 at 7:30 PM

    It’s amazing that Rich ignored the part where Shelton put up the vast majority of his stats in 3 games against bad opponents. Can anyone tell me what Shelton did in his 10 games against real opponents that puts him in the top 5?

    • captblood3000 - Feb 21, 2015 at 10:34 AM

      The Shelton fan club (or Sheldon, as 214hof calls him) has moved on. So expect crickets.

      In my opinion, one big part of the BPA score on defense is “how often will this guy get us stops on third down?”. At #5, you should get a player who does that maybe 3 times a game. Shelton is good, but not that good.

      • Joe Greene - Feb 21, 2015 at 3:38 PM

        I like Shelton’s potential, but his output just hasn’t been there against good opposition. I’m fine with the pick if McCloughan takes him, since Scott has a proven track record, but I’ll be very surprised if it actually happens (at least at 5). Archives

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