Player Spotlight: Chris Neild, the Power of 6-foot-2, and why he just might start in 2012.

___written by AllRedskins.us____________________________________________________

After Chris Neild posted 2 sacks and a forced fumble against the New York Giants week 1 in his NFL rookie debut, I figured he had already paid off, considering the Redskins selected him with the second-to-last draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Neild gained a lot of popularity with the Redskins' faithful after the win against the Giants, and he continued to see time in all 16 games last season.

With a closer look at Nield, hes earned a laundry list of accomplishments. This guy is a Mike Shanahan kind of player. At West Virginia University, he was a candidate for the 2010 Lowe’s Senior CLASS award, and made Dean’s List and the Athletic Director’s Academic Honor Roll. He also received the John Russell Award for leadership by the WVU coaching staff.

He fits the mold of a team contributor for sure. He also fits the mold of the some of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the NFL. Let's compare some of their tangibles and see how they match up. When taking a look at the nose tackles for the Packers, Patriots, and Steelers (all 3-4 defenses), we see one glaring constant.

Chris Neild: 6-foot-2, 315-pound (Redskins)

compared to...

BJ Raji: 6 foot 2, 337 lbs (Packers)
VInce Wilfork: 6 foot 2, 325 lbs (Patriots)
Casey Hampton: 6 foot 2, 325 lbs (Steelers)

6-foot-2 is an encouraging figure for Neild when compared to other leading 3-4 nose tackles. And in a defensive scheme that requires the nose tackle to be the anchor of the entire defense with size and sheer mass, Nield may be poised to have a break-out season in 2012. This however, would require him earning the spot over Barry Cofield.

But Cofield wasn't the disruptive force we hoped when we scooped him off the free agency last year. He posted25 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2011, and at 6-4, 306 lbs, Cofield is 3-pounds lighter than 2011 second round pick Jarvis Jenkins, who is expected to play defensive end.

If Neild shows the leadership and talent he showed in his minimal playing time last season, he could earn the starting spot and pushing Cofield to transitioned to defensive end, which is potentially a more natural fit for him in the 3-4.

With so many question marks at the defensive line, the Redskins face a positive delemma. We have no shortage of young talent on the D-line, and we are certain to see some hotly contested battles. After benefiting from a full off-season, Chris Neild might be one to come out on top of the D-Line battle before the 2012 season is out.

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