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Post Free Agency Roster Grades: Imagining this group with Chase Young is scary

Post Free Agency Roster Grades: Imagining this group with Chase Young is scary

With free agency in the rearview and the NFL Draft fast approaching, the NBC Sports Washington Redskins crew examines the entire roster, position by position group. Today, and lastly: The defensive line.

D-linemen (includes interior and edge rushers): Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Daron Payne, Tim Settle, Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Ryan Anderson, Nate Orchard, Caleb Brantley, Jordan Brailford, Ryan Bee

2019 recap: The Redskins were 27th in points allowed, 27th in yards allowed and last in third-down percentage this past season, and this group played a role in those painful statistics.

The hope was that the defensive line, led by well-regarded players like Allen, Ioannidis, Payne and Settle, would form the strength of the unit as well as the team overall. And while they did generate some consistent pressure — Washington finished 10th in the league in sacks — they still came up short in nearly every other aspect, especially on third down.

In terms of individual performance, Ioannidis stood out the most. The 2016 fifth-round choice may not be as well known as his fellow first rounders up front, but he raised his sack total yet again to 8.5 and was nearly a Pro Bowler. When you look at production and compensation, he may have the best contract on the roster.

The two Alabama guys, meanwhile, were durable (each suited up for 15 matchups) and forces at times. However, when compared to what they did in 2018, it's fair to say both took a slight step backward.

Beyond those three, Settle continued to show he can contribute when needed, notching two sacks while seeing 28-percent of the snaps. Anderson also popped late, which he badly needed. Brantley and Brailford, unfortunately, only combined for one contest due to respective injuries. The former, though, still was re-signed this offseason and will have yet another chance to carve out a role on the interior. 

Of course, many wonder how much this crew's issues were tied to how Greg Manusky deployed them. Kerrigan and Sweat, for example, are considered defensive ends now, yet they were outside linebackers in 2019's 3-4 and were dropping back in coverage far too often. Were Manusky and the coaching staff preventing this part of the defense from breaking out? Some certainly believe so.

2020 potential: OK, enough about 2019. That was a dreadful campaign, and on this side of the ball, it sure feels like the staff was a reason why. A bunch with this much investment in it can't simply be so bad on their own, right? Hopefully. 

Don't worry, by the way; chatter about the dude from Ohio State who very well could be joining the Burgundy and Gold in a handful of hours is coming soon. But first, a look at the potential of the players already here.

Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio's switch to the 4-3 is designed, according to them, to have their linemen "play the run on their way to the quarterback." The two coaches want to make use of and unleash this D-line, and the results could be very positive and very sudden on both the interior and outside.

In short, prepare for another summer where this group is hyped up as the centerpiece for the entire team. This time around, though, the expectation should be for that to actually happen. (And if it doesn't, some serious reconstruction may be in order.)

Having Chase Young, obviously, would go a long way in ensuring it does. Even at just 21 years old and still months away from his first NFL action, he's regarded as a piece who can elevate the other 10 people around him instantly. Plus, he can do plenty of damage on his own. He's already getting slight Defensive Player of the Year consideration!

If Young is the Redskins' pick at No. 2, everyone will benefit. Sweat will have an easier time in Year 2. Kerrigan will be asked to do a little less, allowing him to go all out when he's needed. The men in the middle will see less attention. The other two levels will be able to be more aggressive. The offense should even find themselves in more advantageous situations.

Rivera stated this offseason that he's a fan of making his roster's strengths even stronger when possible. Adding Young would be the epitome of that and make 2020 really fun — except for Washington's opponents under center.

Overall projection: Free agents like Kendall Fuller and Thomas Davis cited the presence of Ioannidis, Allen, Payne, Settle, Kerrigan and Sweat as one of the reasons why they chose to join the Redskins. And that's before Young possibly enters the mix. Even without him, the D-line should play markedly better this season in the 4-3. Once you project things with him? It gets really scary.    

DL grade: On Thursday morning, the defensive line, including converted options like Kerrigan and Sweat, gets an A. Come Thursday night, a "+" may need to be tacked on.  


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DeMatha alumni Chase Young and Paul Rabil execute socially distant jersey swap

DeMatha alumni Chase Young and Paul Rabil execute socially distant jersey swap

Chase Young hasn't played a single snap for the Redskins yet and he's already swapping his No. 99 jersey with other pro athletes. 

Fellow DeMatha alumni and PLL star Paul Rabil got things started on Twitter by offering his No. 99 Atlas jersey for Young's, all the while abiding by social distancing guidelines. 

Young then responded, which feels like an appropriate time to mention how nonchalantly these guys throw around the triple-XL jersey as their jersey size. 

Rabil and Young, who share the same high school, have a mutual admiration for one another. A few months after the Redskins made Young the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Rabil revealed he reached out to the young pass-rusher to congratulate him. 

Chase is great, man," Rabil said in June. "I shot him a note because obviously I think he's a generational talent, his athleticism, his size and his work ethic... I'm pumped to see him wear No. 99. We have that in common. Sharing some additional commonalities is something Chase and I went back and forth on."

From Rabil to Markelle Fultz, Young has plenty of support from local stars as he gets set to begin his career with his hometown team. 


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Tony Dungy won't say Redskins team name on air: 'It's not hard to change the name'

Tony Dungy won't say Redskins team name on air: 'It's not hard to change the name'

The controversy surrounding the Redskins' team name has gained steam in recent days as numerous investors have reportedly urged Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo to end their relationships with the franchise unless the name is changed. 

Several government officials have also reportedly denied Washington from potentially moving to RFK stadium in the future if they remain the Redskins. 

Now, more voices around the game have begun to let their objections be known, including two-time Super Bowl champion and Football Night in America analyst Tony Dungy. In an interview with The Undefeated's William C. Rhoden, Dungy admitted he's stayed away from using "Redskins" when referring to Washington's pro football team on the air. 

“It’s not hard to change the name,” Dungy said. “When I’m on the air, I try to just refer to them as Washington. I think it’s appropriate. If the team doesn’t want to change, the least I can do is try not to use it.”


The increase in attention to the team's name comes at a time where racial injustice has become a paramount societal problem. Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, protests erupted across the country. 

“You can say, ‘This has been a historic name and we’ve used it for this team for X number of years, but in this day and age, it’s offensive to some people, so we’re going to change it.’ I don’t think that’s hard,” Dungy said.


In his first public comments about his new team's name, head coach Ron Rivera said the conversation, "Is all about the moment and timing."

"But I'm just somebody that's from a different era when football wasn't such a big part of the political scene," he said. That's one of the tough things, too, is I've always wanted to keep that separate."

The Redskins have not yet responded to recent developments involving outside investors and government officials. 

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