Nose Tackles are hard to come by in the NFL, and the Redskins are one of a few teams who are in desperate need of one to anchor their 3-4 defense. The Redskins aquired Maake Kemoeatu last offseason, and had hoped to plug the 31 year old nose tackle, who was coming off surgery for a ruptured Achilles Tendon, into the middle of the new defensive front. Turns out Kemo didn't come along as expected from his injury. He appeared in 14 games, starting 12, and ended the season with just 29 tackles and 0 sacks. His spot in the lineup was taken over by journeyman nose tackle Anthony Bryant, who played well in his limited time towards the end of the season. Still, Bryant is not the long team answer to a young team, with obvious needs at one of the 3-4 defenses most important positions.
The 2011 NFL Draft saw the Redskins select Jarvis Jenkins, a 6' 4" 310 pound DE/NT from Clemson in the second round, and Chris Neild, a 6' 2" 319 pound NT out of West Virginia in the seventh round. Jenkins should see the majority of his time at DE, while Neild is more of a developmental prospect at NT.
So again, like last season, the Redskins are left with a dilemma at nose tackle.
It stands to reason that Kemo will be released. Many writers, bloggers and fans have linked the Redskins to one of the top prospects in free agency; Aubrayo Franklin, the 6' 1" 317 pound soon-to-be 31 year old NT from the 49ers. The problem is, Franklin, at 31, can only be viewed as a stop-gap player, and will likely command a large contract, that he will most likely underperform in two years. Why go down the same road we have been down before with bringing in these aging vets, who are in the twightlight of their careers, and are seeking one more big payday.
Well, I have a better idea for our Redskins.
The Cleveland Browns hired former Bears head coach Dick Jauron to run their defense. Jauron is bringing with him the 4-3. Cleveland has been a 3-4 team in the past, and has had some good players to fit that system. One of those players was DT/NT Shawn Rogers. The Browns obtained Rogers in a trade with the Detroit Lions, and plugged him in at NT in their 3-4 defense. Rogers played great in 2008, and was off to another good start in 2009, when injury forced him to miss 5 games of the season. During his absence from the lineup, the Browns promoted Rogers' backup, second year player Ahtyba Rubin(6' 2" 330lbs), to NT duties. The sixth round pick from Iowa State did not dissapoint. He saw action in all 16 games that season, registering 5 starts, and posting 38 tackles and 1 forced fumble. Due to his good play at the end of the 2009 season, Rubin earned the starting NT spot for the 2010 season, where the 23 year old posted career bests in starts(16), tackles(82), Sacks(2), passes defended(2), and interceptions(1).
Rubin started his college career at Trinity Junior College, where he played both offensive and defensive line. He joined Iowa State in 2006, where he saw limited action in the first 3 games, before moving into the starting lineup at NT. He started all 12 games at NT his senior year, and recorded 42 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 4 tackles for a loss, whille forcing 1 fumble, recovering another and deflecting 1 pass.
Cleveland selected Rubin in the 6th round(pick # 190 overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Now here are three interesting things to consider about Rubin:
1.) He is a natural NT, and a young one at that. He has played NT all 3 years in the NFL. He is scheduled to become a free agent in 2012. His signed a 4 year, 1.8 million contract as a rookie. He is scheduled to make 555K in 2011.
2.) Jauron is bringing in a new 4-3 defense, to which Rubin doesn't fit. The Browns drafted Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard in the 1st and 2nd rounds respectively of the 2011 NFL Draft, and also have Travis Ivey(a 2nd year player from Maryland), Scott Paxson(a 2nd year player from Penn St), and Ko Quaye(a 2nd year player out of South Dakota) fighting it out for playing time at DT. They are also rumored to be active in FA on the defensive line.
3.) Rubin is a native of Fort Belvoir, VA.
The situation in Cleveland and Washington could be one to watch. The Redskins need a young NT to fit their 3-4 scheme, and Cleveland could use more 4-3 DT's to fit theirs. Another thing to consider is that Rubin will likely be allowed to test FA in 2012, so the Browns would be smart to take what they can get if a trade was offered.
1.) We have a malcontent in Albert Haynesworth, who has publically stated he would rather play in a 4-3 defense. Cleveland would be pretty dominate across the front 4 by adding a player of Haynesworth's calibur. Haynesworth's salary is cap friendly. A straight up trade for players could make some sense here.
2.) We have an extra 4th round pick from the Jason Campbell trade. That extra pick could be offered to the Browns in exchange for Rubin. The Redskins now have a young NT to build around, and still have their full compliment of draft picks heading into the 2012 NFL Draft?