Aging Defensive Line Will Try to Hold Its Own
Monday, May 5, 2008
With an aging defensive line that struggled to rush the passer last season, finishing tied for 16th in the NFL with 33 sacks, the Washington Redskins entered last weekend's NFL draft with needs at both defensive end and defensive tackle.
But after trading out of the first round, the Redskins used their three second-round picks on pass catchers, selecting wide receivers Devin Thomas (Michigan State) and Malcolm Kelly (Oklahoma) and tight end Fred Davis (Southern Cal), and did not address the line until the seventh round, when they selected defensive end Rob Jackson from Kansas State with the 242nd pick of the draft.
The Redskins' decision not to use early draft picks on younger linemen is considered to be a gamble by some, with starting defensive end Phillip Daniels, 35, and tackle Cornelius Griffin, 31, having missed games or been limited by injuries in recent seasons.
On Friday, Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache said the team had to focus on what they had on the roster and not on what they might have wanted to add.
"You can try and establish that you'd like to have something and if it comes, fine you work with it," Blache said. "But if you don't, you can't sit around crying and worrying about what you don't have."
Blache said he believes the team can find depth from players who weren't selected in the early rounds, pointing to Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston, selected in the fifth and sixth rounds, as examples.
"We have some guys that you may not know of them today, but today's not important," Blache said. "It's important that you know about them come December and January."
Several defensive players said Saturday they expected a defensive end to be taken early in the draft.
"We thought one was going to be drafted but it didn't happen this year, maybe it'll happen next year," defensive end Andre Carter said. "If they did draft a D-end that's just part of the business, that's just life. You get young, you get old, that's it. This is my eighth year in the league, Phil's going on 55, we all talk about it."
Daniels, who is entering his 13th season, competed in power-lifting competitions this offseason and said he bulked up to 290 pounds after playing at 273 last year. The additional size and strength, Daniels said, will help him be more effective when he rotates inside to defensive tackle this year.
"I got good push last year, I just wasn't big enough to get back there," Daniels said. "A bigger me, a stronger me, I can help this defense a whole lot better with where I'm at right now. . . . I got two and a half more months to really get after it again. Hopefully I can get a 700-pound squat and come back in here and it'll be hard for people to stop me. I expect a lot of double-teams this year."
After wrapping up his first minicamp as coach of the Redskins, Jim Zorn said he was pleased with what the team was able to accomplish in three days.