The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster.
While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp.
In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.
We’ll start with the defensive line.
2016 final game starters: Chris Baker, Ziggy Hood (NT)
Ricky Jean Francois was the third starter but he started many games on the bench when the Redskins opened up in a nickel defense.
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Departures: Francois (released), Baker (free agent), Cullen Jenkins (unsigned), Kedric Golston (unsigned)
Projected 2017 starters: Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee, Hood (NT)
McClain and McGee came in as free agents. Injuries have hampered them at various times during their careers. Both are coming off career-best seasons so the Redskins hope that the two players are on the upswing.
2017 reserves: A.J. Francis, Joey Mbu, Phil Taylor, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier
Ioannidis was a fifth-round pick last year who didn’t make the 53-man roster and spent two weeks on the practice squad. Lanier took Ioannidis’ spot on the 53 as a development project. He played in four games before a leg injury sent him to injured reserve.
Francis spent time on the practice squad and was on the 53-man roster for one game. Mbu was a Week 6 practice squad signee. Taylor is a former first-round draft pick who hasn’t played since 2015.
Where can the D-line find improvement?
If you have been paying any attention at all you know that the Redskins will need to bolster their defensive line in the draft. Ideally, they would like to add a nose tackle but finding one can be tricky since the need to defend spread offenses in college has brought lighter, quicker linemen into the pipeline. But even adding a young end like Malik McDowell or Caleb Brantley sometime in the first two days of the draft would give a needed talent boost to the group.
Jay Gruden is very high on the potential of Lanier to be a pass rushing presence. He has the most potential of the young players on the line. Last year as an undrafted free agent he was just battling to get a spot on the team. This year as a lock to make it he will be able work on refining his game.
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It seemed like the team gave up on Ioannidis last year, cutting him in the final roster reduction and then putting him on the inactive list for four midseason games, preferring to dress the 35-year-old Jenkins instead. He is in a situation where he needs to improve or he could well get waived and not return.
Locks and Bubble Players
They have carried six or seven DL most of the time the last two seasons. The locks are McGee, McClain, Lanier, and the guy they draft in the first three or four rounds. Hood probably is the fifth lock unless they draft multiple linemen.
That leaves Ioannidis, Francis, Mbu, and Taylor on the bubble competing for one or perhaps two roster spots.