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Rating the Redskins: Defensive line

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Rating the Redskins: Defensive line

New Redskins GM Scot McCloughan aimed to improve nearly every position through the draft or via free agency. How has he done? Over the next couple of weeks, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine and rate each group on the team. The ratings will be based on the quality of the players as compared to the rest of the league and, in particular, the NFC East.

We’ll use a scale of 1 to 10. To receive a 10, a position group would need Pro-Bowl caliber starters and solid backups. A rating of 1 means the starters are aging and ineffective and there are no promising reserves in the pipeline.

We’ll get it started today with the defensive line.

Starters:  Stephen Paea, Jason Hatcher, Terrance Knighton

Reserves: Stephen Baker, Ricky Jean Francois, Frank Kearse, Kedric Golston, Robert Thomas, Corey Crawford, Jerrell Powe, Travian Robertson

Tandler: This group has been substantially upgraded from last year with the additions of Paea, a young, powerful end with some pass rushing ability, and Knighton, the true nose tackle the team has lacked since converting to the 3-4 defense in 2010. If Hatcher can stay healthy the starters could combine for 15 sacks or more. Baker is a quality option off of the bench who could thrive in Joe Barry’s more aggressive defense. Last year Kearse was a pleasant surprise and he, Golston, and Jean Francois can give them some quality snaps off of the bench. A wild card reason to like this unit is second-round draft pick Preston Smith, an outside linebacker who could line up with his hand in the dirt on a substantial number of snaps. On the downside, Hatcher will be 33 before training camp starts and with his salary cap number jumping up to $8.75 million next year this could be his last season in Washington. Knighton is one a one-year contract so two of the three starters may have to be replaced next year. Rating: 6

El-Bashir: McCloughan immediately identified the D-line as the team’s biggest area of need, then wasted no time overhauling the previously underperforming unit. As I’ve said a number of times, I’m a fan of McCloughan’s approach here. Paea is a building block type player—27 years old and on the upswing. Knighton, meantime, is hungry after the market forced him to settle for a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal. If the 28-year-old nose tackle wants another multi-year deal, he must keep his weight down and, most important, produce. Jean-Francois, 28, figures to be a key player in the rotation. As far as the incumbents, Hatcher’s health will be key, as Tandler said. Hatcher had moments early last season when he appeared almost unblockable. Then the injuries hit. He’s healthy now, and if he stays that way, I suspect Barry will play to his strengths and he'll have a big year. Which brings me to what I think will be the determining factor for this group in 2015: Barry’s scheme. Indeed, the players are certainly excited about it. “We ain’t going sideways no more,” Hatcher said recently. “We’re just not holding a blocker. We’re the attacker now.” The D-line contributed only 10.5 sacks to the team’s pedestrian total of 36 last year. With influx of first-string talent and Barry's scheme tweaks, that should change this season, making the line an asset rather than an albatross. Rating: 7

Consensus rating: 6.5

RELATED: RG3 on Crowder: "We pray that it's not true"

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Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

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USA Today Sports Images

Redskins 53-man roster projection, ver. 2.0

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

The Redskins are halfway through the preseason and the first two games may have done more to muddy the waters when it comes to who will make the 53-man roster than they did to clarify things. 

Here is my second training camp prediction of who will make the final cut for the Redskins. See where players are safe and where the hot spots are for competition. 

Among the big battles taking shape:

—An injury and one player’s impressive preseason have juggled the wide receiver depth chart. 

—With Orlando Scandrick cut, the cornerback position looks set but the rookies had better not do anything to shake the coaches’ confidence in them. 

—There are seven safeties who may be worthy of roster spots, but only four are likely to make it. 

—Despite the Hogan-led rally last night, it still looks like the roster will have only two QBs. 

<< Click here to see Redskins 53-man roster projection ver. 2.0 >>

Redskins 2018 news:

-Redskins vs Jets: Must-see photos from the game
-Analysis: Five Redskins-Jets observations

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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No touchdowns but plenty of action in Redskins' 15-13 win over Jets

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Bob Youngetob

No touchdowns but plenty of action in Redskins' 15-13 win over Jets

The Redskins starters got their first real snaps of the preseason on Thursday night. It wasn’t extended, but there was enough action to glean some information. 

1) The defensive line could be a force. Rookie Daron Payne recorded a sack on the first third down rush of his career. Think about that. In the nickel package, Payne lined up next to Jonathan Allen with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith positioned as the outside pass rushers. That’s a formidable group. 

2) Kapri Bibbs has usually been the last running back mentioned among the Skins rushers. Might be time to adjust that. Bibbs had seven catches last night and arguably more importantly looked strong in blitz pickup on pass protection. Byron Marshall sustained a leg injury, albeit minor, and Samaje Perine sprained his ankle. Meanwhile, Bibbs got through healthy and looking good. With Derrius Guice done for the year, the competition at running back behind Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson is very much alive. 

3) Speaking of competition at the skill positions, the receiver battle is heating up. Mo Harris and Jamison Crowder did not play Thursday, and while Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson looked good early, undrafted rookie Cam Sims made plays throughout the game. Could Sims make the 53 man roster? Certainly. He has a huge frame that coaches drool over. If he does, that likely means trouble for one of two players with last names that start with Q: Brian Quick or Trey Quinn. Offensively Quinn seems ahead of Quick, but on special teams Quick can do much more. Sims is still far from a lock, but this is a situation to keep an eye on. 

4) Fans can be frustrated by the Redskins inability to score touchdowns against New York. Five short range field goals is not efficient offense. But withhold any anger until the actual first team unit gets on the field. On Alex Smith’s lone drive of the game, remember that the end zone pass to Quinn that fell to the ground likely would have gone to Crowder if he was playing. Or if Jordan Reed was playing, Smith might have thrown a different direction entirely. Or Chris Thompson. And oh yeah Trent Williams wasn’t playing either.

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