Conducting a thorough review of the Redskins depth chart requires a good amount of questions, and poking some holes at flimsy position groups. Not on the defensive line. 


That group easily marks the best unit on the Redskins projected 53-man roster. Using consecutive first-round draft picks to take Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne bolstered the line over the last two seasons, but there is also the emergence of fourth-year pro Matt Ioannidis that makes the big men up front on defense a legit top group league-wide. 

Start with Allen - In 16 games last year he registered eight sacks and more than 60 tackles. He's an interior lineman, those guys aren't supposed to pile up that kind of sack numbers. Payne also played all 16 games last year, as a rookie, and finished with five sacks and 56 tackles. As a rookie. 

Ioannidis' sack totals are the most impressive. He got a hold of the opposing quarterback 7.5 times in just nine starts. His play earned him a $21 million contract extension this offseason, which was smart as the Redskins did not want to lose the former fifth-round pick out of Temple to free agency in 2020. 


Sack totals aren't the only impressive part for the defensive line. Pro Football Focus graded Allen as a +11.9, the highest of any returning player on the Redskins defense. There's also the raw numbers best reflected in the run game. 

In 2017, Washington ranked last in the NFL in rush yards allowed, giving up more than 134 yards on the ground per game. 

In 2018, Washington ranked 17th in the NFL in rush yards allowed, dropping their per game total to 116. 

Middle of the pack isn't the goal for the 'Skins rush defense, but it's a dramatic improvement from the year before. Should the defense make a similar jump again this fall, the numbers could vault into the elite category. 

There is reason to believe that could happen too. 

Allen, Payne, and Ioannidis are all 25 or under. Payne is shockingly young, he will turn just 22 later this month despite already playing a year in the NFL. 

And there's talent in the pipeline.

Tim Settle, a second-year pro out of Virginia Tech, got to spend the last year in an NFL weight program. He's looked much stronger when spotted walking the halls in Ashburn, and that could get him on the field more this fall.

Ask some of the Redskins defensive coaches, and they'll talk at length about third-year man Caleb Brantley. An early season addition last year, Brantley didn't play much for Washington in 2018, though he showed promise in Cleveland as a rookie.

Settle and Brantley got drafted later than many expected, and with the time invested in the weight room and tutelage from defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, it wouldn't be crazy to see development on the same scale as Ioannidis. He went from a late round rookie to a significant contributor, and inside the walls at Redskins Park, folks think the same could happen with Brantley or Settle. Maybe both. 

The Redskins did not add any notable defensive linemen in free agency and did not draft any defensive linemen last month in Nashville. That wasn't an accident.

Speaking before the draft, Washington Senior VP of Player Personnel Doug Williams said that he felt most comfortable with "the big boys up front" and that position was the only spot the team did not need a dramatic talent upgrade. 

Williams was right. The Redskins have youth and muscle on their defensive line, and should only get better in 2019.