The Redskins ranked at or near the bottom of the NFL in a number of defensive categories in 2016, and the first and second round selections in the 2017 Draft should help to address that.
A huge part of the Washington defensive problems stemmed from an inability to get off the field on third downs, and Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson should immediately provide a pass rush boost. In 2016, the duo combined for 18.5 sacks, 8.5 coming from Anderson and another 10 from Allen, two huge pieces for the excellent Alabama defense.
On the pro level, Anderson may actually be in position for more sacks as he's likely to play outside linebacker in the Redskins 3-4 scheme. Allen will be more of an interior presence, a natural fit for the 'Skins defensive end spot in the 3-4.
That doesn't mean the two won't compete to hit quarterbacks.
Asked Saturday if there would be a bet between the two college teammates about who gets more sacks their rookie season, Anderson quickly responded, "definitely."
Though he was surprised by the bet, Allen wasn't going to back down from the challenge. (Full video above)
"I guess there is now, I didn't know about it 'til now," Allen said.
As for the stakes of the bet, Allen said the pair of rookies will figure that out behind closed doors.
"His bank account is a little longer than mine so we will have to figure something else out," Anderson said.
What's clear from hanging out with both players is their familiarity with one another will help both players transition to the NFL. Allen and Anderson said they had an emotional response when they learned they would continue to play together in Washington.
"There's very few players that have better film or resume than this guy right here," Allen said of Anderson.
Anderson, as the Redskins press group has quickly learned, has a certain way with words. Honest and funny, but to the point.
"I'm excited to have one of my dogs with me here," he said of Allen.
The Redskins ranked ninth in the NFL in sacks in 2016, but will lose Trent Murphy for four games to start the year. Sacks are just one metric to measure defensive success, though an easily quantifiable and fun metric for fans.
Where Washington has to improve is on 3rd downs. In 2016, they allowed a confounding 97 third down conversions, good for 31st in the league. There's only 32 teams. What's worse? The 'Skins gave nine fourth down conversions too.
Regardless of sack totals, Allen and Anderson were brought to Washington to help this defense get off the field. Coming from the Crimson Tide, the two rookies seem up for the challenge.
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