Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 1, 14 days before NFL free agency starts.
Best of both worlds
As we get closer to the NFL Draft, the question gets asked more and more frequently. Should a team draft the best player available when it is, on the clock? Or should they make their draft decisions on the basis of need?
We’re not going to re-litigate that here, at least not right now. There is plenty of time to hash that out between now and April 25. But there is no debate that if your team is on the clock and the best player available plays in your top position of need, you are in an enviable spot. You don’t need to debate the philosophy or the pick in the draft room; you just take the player.
The Redskins could be in that spot this year. They were last in the NFL in rushing defense last year. Even though they added Jonathan Allen in the first round in 2017 they need to further bolster their defensive line, particularly in the middle. They have lacked a nose tackle ever since they switched to the 3-4 defense prior to the 2010 season. And there are two very good players who could fill that spot.
Vita Vea of Washington weighs in at 340 points and he is a disruptive run stuffer. Da’Ron Payne, Allen’s former teammate at Alabama, is not quite as big (he should weigh in at the combine at something around 320 pounds) but he is hefty enough to play the nose tackle role in Jim Tomsula’s defensive line scheme.
Vea may be the better pure nose tackle. Payne likely would be more effective when the team is not in its base defense. Either would be an upgrade that could help the Redskins in a division that has potent ground games in Dallas and Philadelphia.
The good thing is that the Redskins should get a shot at at least one of the two. And they don’t need to be concerned about reaching to fill the run-stopping need.
Most “big board” rankings from the more respected analysts out there have them ranked someone from seventh to 15th. While those rankings don’t necessarily reflect the Redskins’ draft board exactly, the chances are they are fairly close.
So, we don’t know if Vea and/or Payne will be the top players on the Redskins board when their pick comes up at No. 15. However, there is a very good chance that at least one of them will be there and among the best players the team has on the board. They won’t have to pick between filling a need and taking the top player; they’ll be able to do both with one
One other thing here—it’s premature to put much of a fine point on the draft. Needs can shift during free agency and big boards will change during the combine and as the rest of the draft process unfolds. But for right now, it looks like a pretty good year to be in need of a strong interior defensive line presence.
Tandler on Twitter
I've written that they have about $31 million this year. No point in looking further until this year's draft picks and free agents are signed. Will do that between minicamp and training camp.— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) February 28, 2018
—NFL Draft (4/26) 56
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 192
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