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Need to Know: A post-draft look at the possible 2021 Redskins defense

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Need to Know: A post-draft look at the possible 2021 Redskins defense

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 16, six days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.  

Looking ahead—The Redskins core defensive players in 2021

Earlier this year, I took a stab at figuring out who on the Redskins roster would still be with the team and contributing in the year 2021 (offensedefense). That was before free agency and the draft. Now that the Redskins have their personnel mostly set, let’s revisit that look and see how much the picture has changed. The defense is up today; I looked at the offense yesterday

The terms used here are mostly self-explanatory; if you want details you can look at this post from a couple of years ago.   

Ages are as of Week 1 in 2021

Potential blue-chip players: Jonathan Allen (26), Daron Payne (24), Montae Nicholson (25)
Changes from last projectionAdded Payne, Nicholson

I get that Nicholson is a bit of a stretch. OK, a major stretch. But I’m going on the basis of Jay Gruden saying that, when healthy, Nicholson is the equivalent of a defensive version of Jordan Reed. If he has that kind of impact he could be a blue chipper. Health is the key and it’s fair to say that at this point that is more of a concern for him than for the average player. 

If Payne can develop a consistent pass rush and if he stops the run as well as everyone thinks he will, he has blue-chip written all over him. So does Allen assuming he stays on the field.

Solid starters:Ryan Kerrigan (33), D. J. Swearinger (30), Preston Smith (28), Matt Ioannidis (27), Anthony Lanier (28), Tim Settle (24)
Changes:Removed Kendall Fuller (traded), added Settle

Kerrigan keeps himself in great shape and it’s easy to see him signing another contract with the Redskins when his current deal is up after the 2020 season and playing for a couple more years. Smith's contract is up after this year, and looking at what a competent pass rusher makes around the league, it won’t be cheap to keep him around. If he is with the Redskins, he will be in his prime in 2021. 

Lanier and Ioannidis also would need to be on second contracts. Along with Settle, Payne and Allen the team could have a very good defensive line that still would be young. 

Potential starters: Quinton Dunbar (29), Fabian Moreau (27), Ryan Anderson (27), Shaun Dion Hamilton (25), Zach Vigil (30)
Changes:Removed Trent Murphy (left as free agent), Nicholson, added Anderson, Hamilton

Anderson needs to bounce back from his zero-sack rookie year; he could go into one of the outside linebacker spots if Smith leaves as a free agent or if Kerrigan doesn’t re-sign. Hamilton is a projection based on how he performed at Alabama when healthy (a big if, see Nicholson). 

We will know a lot more about Moreau after this season and he could take a step up when I do this assessment early next year. Dunbar probably won’t make any Pro Bowls but he will be reliable. By the way, Josh Norman’s contract will be up after 2020 and he will be 33, so it’s hard to see him back in 2021. 

It’s too soon to tell about the other Redskins’ 2018 draft picks, so time will tell on Troy Apke and Greg Stroman. 

A potential 2021 defensive starting lineup:

NTSettle
DE Payne
DE Allen
OLB Kerrigan
OLB Smith
ILB Hamilton
ILB Vigil
CB Dunbar
CB Moreau
Swearinger
Nicholson

That’s a starting defense composed of players all currently on the team and with only Kerrigan over the age of 30 in Week 1. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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A quick, initial take on the news that Arie Kouandjio will undergo surgery on his injured quad and be out “several months”: 

Timeline 

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 27
—Training camp starts (7/26) 71
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 85

The Redskins last played a game 136 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 116 days. 

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Making the Pro Bowl case for Tress Way, D.J. Swearinger

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Making the Pro Bowl case for Tress Way, D.J. Swearinger

Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams will represent the Redskins in the Pro Bowl next month, which is great news for the team. Combined the two players have 11 Pro Bowl selections and are deserving of their status as stars around the league.

For Redskins fans, two other players generated a lot of Pro Bowl support in punter Tress Way and safety D.J. Swearinger. The good news is both Way and Swearinger got named Pro Bowl alternates, but the bad news is neither man got the Pro Bowl selection. 

Well, do they deserve it? It's easy to make the case. 

In Swearinger's situation, it doesn't require making much of a case. Giants safety Landon Collins made the Pro Bowl team, but he was placed on the injured reserve earlier this month after undergoing shoulder surgery. A pending free agent, it's very hard to see a scenario where Collins plays in the Pro Bowl. 

Swearinger should replace Collins on the Pro Bowl team. Pro Football Focus ranks Swearinger the 8th-best safety in the NFL, and he has the numbers too. The sixth-year safety has started each game for Washington this season and has logged four interceptions and three forced fumbles to go with 48 tackles. He's deserving of the Pro Bowl spot. 

With the safety issue settled, it's time to focus on the punter. 

Let's be clear, Seattle's Mike Dickson has been really good this year. Tress Way deserves to be in the Pro Bowl, but Dickson is a good choice too. 

Here's what separates Way from Dickson: Touchbacks. 

Way has punted 72 times this season with zero touchbacks. He's placed the ball inside the 20 an astounding 39 times and never once has the ball gotten into the end zone. 

Dickson has punted 68 times this season with four touchbacks. He's placed the ball inside the 20 a respectable 29 times, 10 fewer than Way. 

Boil that down: Dickson has 10 fewer punts inside the 20 than Way, and Dickson has four more touchbacks. Fewer times inside the 20, and more touchbacks. 

It's worth pointing out Dickson has a ridiculous 44.2-yard net punting average. That's crazy good. Way's net punting average is 41.2.

What the stats don't show is that Way has been a critical part of the Redskins success this season. When things were going well for Washington, field position was a vital part of the team's winning formula. Way's ability to drop the ball inside the 20-yard-line, if not the 10 or 5-yard-line, played a huge role in that formula. 

Dickson is very good, but Way has been better. 

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Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

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Redskins get Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan into Pro Bowl and another 5 to alternate team

The Redskins landed two players on the Pro Bowl roster in left tackle Trent Williams and outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. This marks the seventh and fourth Pro Bowl honors for the players, respectively. 

Williams has been named to the past seven Pro Bowls, a remarkable feat, and joins Ken Houston as the only Washington players to make seven straight Pro Bowls. He trails only Charley Taylor (8) and Chris Hanburger (9) in total Pro Bowl selections.

After a two-sack performance last Sunday in Jacksonville moved him into second all-time on the Redskins sack list, Kerrigan got named to his fourth Pro Bowl and third straight selection. He has 11 sacks on the season, his third straight year with double-digit sacks. 

Beyond Kerrigan and Williams, five other Redskins players were named alternates to the Pro Bowl: D.J. Swearinger, Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Tress Way, and Adrian Peterson. 

Many thought Swearinger or Way would make the Pro Bowl for the first time in their careers, but both players came up just short. Things look good for Swearinger to make it to Orlando, as Giants safety Landon Collins made the Pro Bowl squad but will miss the game with an injury. 

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