Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 13, 29 days before NFL free agency starts.
A perfect pick at No. 13?
Earlier this year, I took exception to the player Josh Norris, who does the draft analysis for our corporate cousins at Rotoworld, assigned to the Redskins in an early mock draft. He had the Redskins taking center Billy Price of Ohio State. I thought that No. 13 was too high to take a center when it seems that they are quite happy with Chase Roullier, who only cost them a sixth-round pick.
I panned his pick then, so I will praise his pick for the Redskins in his most recent mock. He has them taking Da’Ron Payne, a defensive lineman out of Alabama. At this point in the draft process, he appears to be a player who would be both the best player available and fill a pressing need for the Redskins.
I know the Redskins just added an Alabama defensive lineman in the first round last year. They still need more help up front. Turn on Payne’s game versus Georgia and you’ll witness one of the best performances from a prospect last season.
The Redskins have made some progress in adding some young talent to the line after years of mostly relying on older free agents to fill out the depth chart. Allen was emerging as a force until a Lisfranc injury ended his season after just five games. In addition, 2016 fifth-round pick Matt Ioannidis went from confused rookie to solid starter last year. After a year and a half on the roster, Anthony Lanier, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2016, suddenly figured out the path to the quarterback. Free agent Stacy McGee, who turned 28 last month, also played well in his first year with the team.
But they are not yet done building the line. Depth is critical on the line, both to have a solid next man up when injuries hit and to be able to rotate them and keep the best group on the field.
Payne could solidify the line and nearly complete the transformation from aging and ineffective to young and feared. As Norris noted, he dominated in the biggest games of the year, the college playoff championship game against Georgia. Here is the assessment of Matt Miller of Bleacher Report:
He lived in that Georgia backfield. He shut down the interior run game. He made [Georgia running back] Nick Chubb look almost undraftable, because Chubb didn’t have the speed to get away from Payne. He was just collapsing the offensive line play in and play out.
That followed up a semifinal performance where he made an interception and caught a touchdown pass against Clemson.
At 6-2, 319, Payne has the size to play nose tackle in base defense. And he certainly has the ability to slide outside in nickel packages.
We have a long way to go before the draft, but based on how things look right now, Payne could be the perfect fit at No. 13.
—NFL Combine (3/1) 16
—NFL Draft (4/26) 72
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 208
Tandler on Twitter
Right after the trade I was thinking that the #Redskins might hold on to Breeland. But with a contract with a $10 mm AAV likely coming his way, it seems doubtful. https://t.co/l7FXKth5pi pic.twitter.com/AoEZcSDb0k— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) February 12, 2018
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- An offseason blueprint for the Redskins
- Aggressive in free agency?