After each ranking the Redskins' position groups on a list that went from worst to best, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will now spend the rest of the week and weekend delving deeper into every spot on the roster.
Next up is the one that finished at the top of their collective rankings: Defensive line.
Currently on the depth chart: Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle, Caleb Brantley
Who's in charge?: Sam Mills III (15 years of NFL experience, all of which came in Carolina)
From top to bottom, no unit on the Redskins seems more complete than the defensive linemen.
Sure, defensive end maybe has more potential thanks to Chase Young's presence, but when it comes to already having shown NFL ability, the guys inside have the ones on the edge collectively beat.
If the team is going to surprise their many doubters this year, those names listed above have to be the ones leading the way. Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio will be leaning on their D-linemen all season long.
PAST POSITION EVALS: TIGHT END | CORNERBACK | O-LINE | QUARTERBACK | LINEBACKER | WIDE RECEIVER | SAFETY | RUNNING BACK | DEFENSIVE END
*The Redskins have two stud defensive tackles in Ioannidis and Allen, and yet, the player with the most talent is Payne. He's played 31 NFL games and logged seven sacks, but just turned 23 last month. Payne has incredible strength at the point of attack, particularly in his hands, and in Jack Del Rio's new downhill scheme, Payne could be a true difference maker. Maybe it's unfair to say Payne has more talent than Allen or Ioannidis, but Payne has the highest ceiling of the three, and maybe with Del Rio and Rivera in charge, he will get there.
*Ioannidis has proven an ability to get to the quarterback and I expect him to play a lot in passing situations for the Redskins' revamped defense. He's got 16 sacks in the last two years; he should be playing a lot in passing situations.
*Contractually, Allen is at an interesting point. The Redskins picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal earlier this offseason, but if Washington wants a long-term deal with Allen, that should get worked on this season. Does Washington want a long-term deal with Allen? Picking up the option was obvious — that will pay Allen more than $10 million in 2021 — but after that, his salary could skyrocket to $15 million per season or more. Allen has 14 sacks since 2018 and has done a strong job of occupying the middle of the defense, but he hasn't made the Pro Bowl. The 2016 first-round pick was expected to make a massive impact for the Redskins. Make no mistake, Allen has been very good, but has he been great? This year should look different. Allen will get more chances to go upfield and attack, and that could suit his alpha personality much more.
*Don't sleep on Settle. He's been in the NFL for two seasons and won't even turn 23 until July. He left college with plenty of room to convert beef into strength. That process is well underway, and members of the Redskins coaching staff appear very excited about the former Hokie's potential.
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RELATED: ALLEN'S THOUGHTS ON RIVERA AND YOUNG
*As I've watched this offseason and seen the serious approaches taken by the Redskins' new regime, and most notably by Rivera and Del Rio, the player I keep flashing to is Allen. Think about how different the pros are compared to what he came from in college. At Alabama, it was all about football, and nearly all about winning in football. With the Burgundy and Gold, on the other hand, Allen has dealt with tons of losing and even more distractions and off-field drama. I can only imagine how relieved he is to have two leaders who are emphasizing accountability and competition; those are the same values that Allen seems to most care about, too.
*Can someone outside of this area please start paying attention to Ioannidis? He's increased his sack total in each of the last three campaigns and finished 2019 with 8.5. He doesn't play as many snaps as other top linemen like Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox, but when it comes to pass rushing productivity, he's as disruptive as anyone. He's also in the top one percent of the top one percent when it comes to strong humans on this planet.
*Brantley's injury issues have been frustrating. He's played just eight games since joining the Redskins after cutdown day in 2018 and Jim Tomsula really liked his skill set, but no one here has really gotten to see it. Hopefully 2020 is when he can finally get right, because I believe he has something to offer this crew for sure.
*Remember that this is going to be the first year for Allen, Payne and Settle without Tomsula. Mills has plenty of experience and if Rivera trusts him, you should as well, but that trio will have some new teaching points to get used to. Let's see how they adjust and what, if anything, it means for how they fare.
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