Reporting Grant Paulsen
Team need: Nose Tackle.
You want to run a successful 3-4 defense that can pressure the quarterback and stuff the run? You need a difference-making presence playing nose tackle. A disruptive force who can attract multiple blockers in the run game and who can generate penetration against the pass.
As soon as Albert Haynesworth decided he didn’t want to play the position, the Redskins didn’t have that player on their roster and the team’s defense paid for it.
Ma’ake Kemoeatu signed last offseason after missing all of 2009 with a year-ending Achilles injury. He posted his lowest tackle total since 2004 and consistently got moved backwards by offensive linemen. Kemoeatu, who wasn’t fully healthy at any point in 2010, garnered respect from teammates and coaches for playing through pain. But he wasn’t able to help Washington win the battle for the line-of-scrimmage.
Anthony Bryant replaced Kemoeatu in the starting lineup for the final three games of the season. The journeyman reserve, who has played for four teams in five seasons, proved to be an upgrade. Bryant was much tougher to move backwards, using his 376-pound frame and low stance to hold his ground against the run. The heaviest player on Washington’s roster, Bryant was working with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett on “staying low” while being blocked all season.
Bryant wouldn’t cost much to bring back in a reserve role and likely earned the opportunity to compete for a backup gig in training camp next season. Kemoeatu, who signed for two-years and $7 million last offseason, is not a lock to return.
Expect the Redskins to find a starting nose tackle in free agency this offseason. Drafting a player at the position would make sense as well, but most of the elite nose tackles in college (like Jerrell Powe of Ole Miss) are projected to come off the board late in the first round. The Redskins pick at No. 10, and shouldn’t be expected to reach for a player just to fill a need.
…. Needs still to come: Free Safety (Wednesday), Right Defensive End (Thursday), Outside Linebacker (Friday) ….