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Redskins Draft Countdown: Could Da'Ron Payne be the final piece to the D-line puzzle?

Redskins Draft Countdown: Could Da'Ron Payne be the final piece to the D-line puzzle?

Redskins draft countdown

Da’Ron Payne

Defensive tackle
Alabama

Stuff the run in the middle of the line? Check. Get outside to stop stretch plays? Check. Get after the passer? Check. Yes, Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne checks all the boxes the Redskins are looking for on the D-line.

He can be the immovable object, taking on double and triple teams, and he also can chase down the quarterback. At 311 pounds he could be the Redskins’ nose tackle in base and move outside in nickel.

Height: 6-2
Weight: 311
40-yard dash: 4.95

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Payne possesses one of the most impressive combinations of strength and athleticism that we've seen from an interior lineman. He will be the premier run-stuffer in this draft, but he may have enough in the pass rushing toolbox to project as a better pro than college pass rusher. Payne is a game-ready starter who immediately upgrades a defense's ability to slow the run.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: This just in—the Redskins need a nose tackle. Of course, if you’re reading this you know that, and you’ve known it has been the case ever since the Redskins went to the 3-4 defense in 2010.

In very closely related news, they need to play better against the run, too. You probably noticed that they were dead last in the league in rushing defense last year. And that the NFC East has two very strong rushing teams in the Eagles and Cowboys and a Giants team that could well take Saquon Barkley with the second pick in the draft. If they don’t fix their rushing defense they could literally get run over.

Payne could help them a lot. He can take on double and triple teams and clog up running lanes in the middle. If they try to go around him, he has the quickness to penetrate and disrupt outside runs.

And a defensive lineman taken in the top half of the first round should be able to provide some pass rush pressure. As noted by Zierlein, Payne has the potential to do that. He’ll never be a double-digit sack guy, but if he can kick in four to six per year and get some pressure up the middle, that would be fine.

Film review: vs. Tennessee, vs Georgia (national title game)

Like most players, Payne can’t get much in the way of a pass rush when he is double and triple teamed. But when they tried to block him one on one he consistently got pressure. Payne didn’t get many sacks, but he did make a difference. Against Georgia, one pressure resulted in an interception and another forced a third-down incompletion.

Payne is very difficult to move off the spot in the running game, even when the offense tries to do it with two or even three players. Running backs did not get by him on a regular basis. In the second half in particular, Georgia tried to move the ball with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, both of whom are likely to get selected in the top 100 in the draft next month. But they kept running into a mass of humanity in the middle of the line with Payne in the middle of it.

He played well during the Tennessee game during the regular season, but he didn’t have a lot of impact. The only time his name was called was when he was hit with a roughing the passer call.

Potential issues: At 311 pounds, Payne may not be the ideal size to fill the chronic hole at nose tackle. It should be noted, however, that defensive line coach Jim Tomsula has said that the Redskins aren’t necessarily looking for the 350-pound nose tackle and that a relatively smaller player can get the job done. Ziggy Hood played the nose at 305 pounds last year. The Redskins finished last against the run, although that’s not necessarily cause and effect.

Bottom line: The Redskins went 20 years without taking an interior defensive lineman in the first round before taking Jonathan Allen last year. Nobody could legitimately complain if they doubled up on first-round D-linemen after so many years of neglect.

Payne should be there when the 13th pick goes on the clock. Unless the Redskins address the nose tackle spot in free agency Payne will be under strong consideration. The defensive line improved last year with the additions of Allen in the draft, Stacy McGee as a free agent and the second-year emergence of Matt Ioannidis. Payne could be the final piece of what could be a dominant defensive line.

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

 

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Need to Know: Adrian Peterson visit part of Redskins contingency planning at running back

Need to Know: Adrian Peterson visit part of Redskins contingency planning at running back

Here is what you need to know on Monday, August 20, four days before the Washington Redskins host the Broncos in their third preseason game. 

Talking points

Jay Gruden added some clarity to the Redskins’ running back situation, although questions remain. 

First, and perhaps most important, he said that there are no immediate plans to sign Jamaal Charles or Orleans Darkwa, both of whom visited Redskins Park on Sunday, or Adrian Peterson, who is scheduled to come to Ashburn today. 

"Well we want to bring them in to get physicals on them just in case,” said Gruden. Like I said, we have had very [unlucky] situations with our running backs with obviously Guice and Marshall and Samaje, if something else happens, we are going to be really, really, really thin, so we just want to make sure we are covering all our bases right now and we will address it when we feel like we have to." 

Derrius Guice is out for the season with a torn ACL. Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine suffered injuries last Thursday against the Jets. According to media reports, Perine should be out a week and Marshall for two to four weeks. 

The key to what Gruden said was the part about “covering all of our bases right now”. Things are tight at running back now. But they are a Rob Kelley injury or a Perine setback away from being in big trouble. They would need to go to Plan B and that might be Peterson or Charles or Darkwa. 

But the Redskins have a short-term problem. Assuming Perine won’t play on Friday in the third preseason game against the Broncos, the Redskins would only be left with Kelley and Kapri Bibbs to handle most of the load in that game. Chris Thompson is scheduled to play some, but only for about a quarter. The Redskins will want to acquire at least one other running back to play on Friday. 

It sounds like that back won’t be someone like Charles or Darkwa, but it could well be someone you’ve never heard of. It was somewhat surprising that they didn’t have a new running back at practice today, but it’s very likely that they will have someone in place in time for practice on Tuesday. 

Bureau of statistics

2017 stat slash lines for RBs visiting the Redskins

Darkwa (NYG) 171 att./751 yds./4.4 yds per att./5 TD
Charles (DEN) 69/296/4.3/1
Peterson (AZ/NO) 156/529/3.4/2

The agenda

Today: Off day

Upcoming: Preseason Broncos @ Redskins (Aug. 24) 4 days; Final cut (Sept. 1) 12 days; Season opener @ Cardinals (Sept. 9) 20 days

In case you missed it

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

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The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

The Redskins are reportedly hosting Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit

After sustaining a number of injuries to their running back group, the Redskins need help at the position. 

In that quest, the team will bring in veteran Adrian Peterson for a free agent visit, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Arguably one of the best all-time running backs in the NFL, Peterson not being on a roster at this point in the season might be a surprise. Last year, Peterson split time between New Orleans and Arizona and rushed for more than 500 yards. 

Peterson built his fame and name with a long run of success in Minnesota, including a 2,000-yard season in 2012. In 123 games with the Vikings spanning 10 years, he rushed for nearly 12,000 yards and 97 touchdowns. 

Washington is in serious need for depth and talent at RB. 

Rookie Derrius Guice went down for the season in the preseason opener, and last week Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall sustained injuries. 

At Sunday's practice, head coach Jay Gruden joked that his son, Jack, should take some practice reps at the position. 

Currently, the Redskins only have Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson and Kapri Bibbs as running backs on the roster, and Thompson hasn't played yet this preseason as he's working back from a broken leg last November.

The Redskins also worked out veteran runners Jamaal Charles and Orleans Darkwa. Peterson has the biggest name of all of them.

This offseason, Peterson also worked out with Redskins tackle Trent Williams.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

For more analysis on Peterson's visit, check out this RB-oriented episode of Redskins Talk.