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Redskins pre-draft depth chart review: Defense

Redskins pre-draft depth chart review: Defense

The Redskins’ depth chart is beginning to take shape after some free agency gains and losses. Let’s take a look at where they stand on each side of the ball. Yesterday we looked at the offense; today, the defense goes under the microscope.

Starters are listed first, reserves roughly in the order they would appear on a depth chart.

Defensive line: Kedric Golston (NT), Stephen Paea, Chris Baker
Reserves: Ricky Jean Francois, Kendall Reyes, Ziggy Hood, Corey Crawford, Jerrell Powe (NT), Anthony Johnson, Christo Bilukidi, James Gayle, Kamal Johnson

It seems unlikely that Golston will actually be the nose tackle Week 1 but he was identified as the current starter by Jay Gruden a couple of weeks ago so that’s who we’ll go with. This looks like a bit of a logjam but actually it’s about right in terms of numbers; they will take about 12 defensive linemen to training camp. It’s likely that there will be some roster churn here after the draft as picks and undrafted free agents take the roster slots of some of the players down the depth chart.

Outside linebacker: Junior Galette, Ryan Kerrigan
Reserves: Preston Smith, Trent Murphy, Houston Bates, Jackson Jeffcoat, Willie Jefferson, Lyndon Trail, Desmond Bishop

They could trim one or two players here but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Redskins go into training camp with most of this group intact. One change could be Murphy moving to the defensive line but that’s something that will be sorted out during OTAs and possibly training camp.

Inside linebacker: Will Compton, Mason Foster
Reserves: Perry Riley, Martrell Spaight, Terrance Garvin, Adam Hayward, Carlos Fields, Derrick Matthews

Hayward didn’t play at all last year after suffering a torn ACL during a preseason game and his roster status is up in the air. The Redskins could go into camp with the group they have now at this position.

Cornerback: Chris Culliver, Bashaud Breeland
Reserves: Will Blackmon, Quinton Dunbar, Jeremy Harris, Dashon Phillips, Al Louis-Jean

Culliver is recovering from a torn ACL and the best-case scenario is for him to be ready for training camp. If the Redskins don’t add a corner in the draft they will probably sign at least one or two undrafted cornerbacks. A veteran acquisition after the draft is also a possibility.

Safety: DeAngelo Hall, Duke Ihenacho
Reserves: David Bruton, Kyshoen Jarrett, Deshazor Everett

Jarrett suffered an injury that has left him with limited strength in his right arm. He has gone to visit a specialist. At the moment, he could be ready for the start of training camp and he could miss all or most of the season. In any case, the Redskins will want to bring in two or three more safeties to fill out this unit for camp.

Tomorrow: A birds-eye view of the entire roster and the adjustments that will need to be made before the start of training camp.

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Redskins 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

Redskins 2017 position outlook: Defensive line

With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Defensive line

Starters: Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Phil Taylor
Other roster locks: Terrell McClain, Ziggy Hood, Anthony Lanier
On the bubble: Matt Ioannidis, A.J. Francis, Joey Mbu

How the defensive line compares:

To the 2016 Redskins: The addition of Allen is a boost but the losses of Chris Baker (free agent) and Ricky Jean Francois (released) can’t be overlooked. Second-year players Lanier and Ioannidis should improve and Hood will be a rotational player instead of a starter, a role better suited to his ability. Andi new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will get the most out of them. The key to improvement will be McClain and McGee. If the two free agents live up to their contracts the line should be better than it was last year. If not, they will struggle again. Slightly better

To the rest of the NFL: But let’s not mistake an improved Redskins D-line for one of the better units in the league. While it’s tough to compare a 3-4 line to a 4-3 front, it still would be quite a leap for the Redskins to move from the bottom of the pack to the lower middle. Tomsula inherited a multi-year rebuild; one draft pick and a couple of free agents are not going to transform the line into a force. Bottom third

RELATED: 2017 OUTLOOK: WIDE RECEIVER

2017 outlook

Biggest upside: Since I used his name in conjunction with that of Dave Butz above, that has to be Allen. He has both the physical ability and the mental makeup to be a very, very good one.

Most to prove: Nearly every player on the line has something to prove but only Phil Taylor has been out of football for the last two years. He has worked his way up from a brief retirement to a futures contract with the Redskins to a roster long shot to a probable starter. But he still only has 21 preseason snaps under his belt and he has a long way to go before he reestablishes himself as a legitimate NFL player.

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Rookie watch: The only rookie with a realistic shot at making the roster is Allen. His Nick Saban-Alabama background has him well prepared to handle the scrutiny that comes with being a top draft pick and the expectations that come with playing in a place like Washington.

Bottom line: The best-case scenario here is that Taylor anchors the line in the middle, Allen’s learning curve is short, Lanier contributes six sacks in a nickel role, and the rest of the players make up a good rotation. Anything more would be a big bonus. Anything less would be back to being one of the worst defenses against the run.

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Phil Taylor:

Well, I’ll tell you, I was in Cincinnati for three years when he was at Cleveland and I know what a force he can be at nose. He was tough to deal with, he really was. We had him for a workout, and I didn’t even know he was on the streets. His knee looked better. He was in good shape. He had a whole offseason and did some good things. I think his body is finally back to where he feels really good. He’s moving around, he’s active, he’s strong, so I like where he is right now. He’s just got to continue to maintain it.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Long's injury gives Redskins' backup center Roullier an opportunity

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Associated Press

Long's injury gives Redskins' backup center Roullier an opportunity

Let’s be clear here.

The Redskins’ loss of center Spencer Long for two weeks due to a knee injury is not a good development.

Long is going into his second year as the starter and he still has a lot to learn. Although he should be back for the games that count, he could have benefitted from the 30 or so snaps he would have taken against the Bengals in the team’s third preseason game this Sunday.

Also, the Redskins’ offensive line has struggled this preseason, especially when blocking for the run.

Another half with the full starting unit playing together would have helped them work on those problems. The third preseason game is supposed to be a dress rehearsal and it’s tough to have one of those if you don’t have all your lead actors.

RELATED: COULD REDSKINS PURSUE RETIRED JETS' CENTER?

However, in the NFL one’s player’s bad fortune can be an opportunity for another. Chase Roullier was a sixth-round pick of the Redskins. With Kory Lichtensteiger retired and John Sullivan departed to Rams, Roullier became the backup center by default. While many expected the Redskins to make a move for a veteran backup center, they have kept Roullier running with the second-team offense through OTAs, minicamp, training camp, and the first two preseason games.

He was a bit shaky against the Ravens in the first preseason game but he was solid against the Packers on Saturday. It should be noted that Roullier will be facing the Bengals’ defensive starters on Saturday, not backups and players whose names will soon appear on the waiver wire as he was in the first two games.

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The competition that Roullier will face, however, is one of the upsides here. If the Redskins need their backup center during the season, their opponent is not going to pull its starter and line up a reserve player against him. He will be facing starters. The Redskins organization should have a pretty good idea of what they have in Roullier after a half against the Bengals’ front-line players.

Again, it would be better if Long was there for the line to work on its game. But the Redskins will have a chance to make the best of a bad situation by finding out if they are set at backup center or if they will need to pull the trigger on finding a veteran option.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year.

Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.