Mike Shanahan selected 21 players in the 2011 and 2012 drafts, and the seventeen who remain on the roster are set to enter a critical stage in their development. In the coming weeks, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take a look at what those players have accomplished thus far and what they still must do in order to solidify their status in the NFL.
Who: Chris Neild
Position: Nose tackle
Draft year/round/pick: 2011/7/253rd
Career to date: Neild has shown flashes of his potential—when he’s been able to get on the field, that is. He suited up for all 16 games as a rookie in 2011 but has played just eight games since.
Neild missed the entire 2012 campaign due to a torn ACL he suffered in training camp. The West Virginia product returned in 2013 but sustained a calf injury in Oakland and sat out Weeks 5-11.
As Barry Cofield’s backup, Neild played well in a limited role down the stretch, averaging about 13 snaps per game. In those six contests, he recorded four tackles, including one on the Giants’ Andre Brown for a five-yard loss in the finale.
Outlook for 2014: As we mentioned up top, the upcoming season is make-or-break for Neild, who is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract.
The coaches like his promise. And even though there’s been a shakeup, it looks like defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, D-line coach Jacob Burney and the 3-4 alignment will be sticking around, so there’s going to be plenty of familiarity, which should help Neild immensely.
As long as Cofield is on the team, though, Neild will be the No. 2 nose tackle in Washington. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Good backups, particularly along the defensive line, can carve out a nice career in the NFL. Assuming, of course, they can stay healthy.