RICHMOND — In Ryan Anderson’s four seasons at Alabama, the Crimson Tide posted a 51-7 record. In that same time-frame, 2013 to 2016, the Washington Redskins went 24-39-1, winning fewer than half as many games and losing more than five times as much.
If the Redskins’ draft-day moves pan out as hoped, Anderson, a 6-foot-2, 253-pound linebacker, and his former college teammate Jonathan Allen, a 6-3, 288-pound defensive lineman, will prove part of a long-term solution to an undermanned, underperforming unit for years to come.
The Redskins first- and second-round draft picks, Allen and Anderson have said and done all the right things through minicamp and the first week of training camp, working hard on the field, soaking up advice from the coaches and veteran teammates and revealing little about their goals and expectations for rookie seasons in which they’ll be counted on to produce.
While Anderson said Thursday that Alabama’s practices were more physical than the Redskins’ have been (with the amount of contact regulated by the league’s collecting bargaining agreement), he has been humbled by the level of competition.
“I’m not taking no reps against no freshmen that are just coming in from high school!” said Anderson, alluding to the Redskins’ first- and second-string tackles he’s trying to beat in drills. “All those guys are good, and they’ve got families to feed, man, so you have to go hard every play out there.”
The Redskins’ defense was a liability last season, and pass-rushing is among several areas that need shoring up. Anderson is envisioned as part of that effort, for now working behind veterans Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith and Junior Galette, who has been sidelined by Achilles’ injuries the last two season.
Being drafted just behind Allen as part of the Redskins’ 1-2 Alabama punch has been a blessing, Anderson said, calling Allen one of his favorite college teammates.
“He’s one of those guys that always got me going,” Allen said. “Comes out there when I’m not feeling it some days, he’s the guy that always [said], ‘What you got for me today! What are we doing to do today?’ ”
With the Redskins selecting UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau in the third round, it was the first year since 2009 that the Redskins invested their top three draft picks on defense.
“Of course they need us to play,” Anderson said, declining to share his specific goals. “We are going to follow the lead of the older guys, and we are going to set the tone.”
But clearly, there are limits to Anderson’s deference to his elders.
Asked what he said to linebacker Mason Foster, a University of Washington product, when the veteran recently harped on their alma maters’ semifinal clash in the College Football Playoff (which Alabama won, 24-7), Anderson said: “There wasn’t much to say, man! Y’all saw the game.”
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