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Color-Coding the Redskins 2017 Defense - Scot McCloughan Style

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed like decades ago when the Redskins last had a top 10 defense. Actually, it was 2009, when the unit ranked 10th in yards per game, giving up 319 per contest. The last two season, they have been in the top 5 worst defenses in yards allowed per game, giving up 378 and 380 respectively.

We all know that yardage given up alone is not the total measure of a defense, but usually those teams who allow opponents to march up and down the field at will, while not giving their players much needed rest due to an inability to get off the field, also tend to give up a lot of points, and often finding themselves playing from behind during much of the game.

This years' Redskins are set up to be quite different defensively.

First, let's take into account that over the last two drafts, the Redskins have selected a total of 5 defensive players within the first three rounds (1 defensive tackle, 1 outside linebacker, 1 safety and 2 cornerbacks). The Skins had a total of 17 draft picks in those two years, and 10 of them were on the defensive side of the ball.

We also saw an emphasis in free agency on bringing in quality defensive starters and reserves to help bolster the unit. Guys such as Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee, Phil Taylor, Zach Brown, and D.J. Swearinger are all going to be counted on heavily this season.

Now, I am going to add a little of my own Scot McCloughan analysis here, and attempt to grade our current defensive "projected" starters based on ole Scot's Color System. I am not going to be as kind as McCloughan was however, as I'm going to add a color of my own:

Blues - Pro Bowl players

Reds - good, solid, reliable contributors

Yellows - replacement level

2017 Projected defensive starters and key reserves:

Jonathan Allen - Red (with potential to become Blue)

Ziggy Hood - Yellow

Phil Taylor - Reddish-Yellow (Red if healthy)

Stacy McGee - Red

Terrell McClain - Red

Ryan Kerrigan - Blue

Preston Smith - Red

Ryan Anderson - Red

Junior Galette - Reddish-Yellow (Red if healthy)

Zach Brown - Reddish-Blue

Mason Foster - Reddish-Yellow

Will Compton - Yellow

Josh Norman - Blue

Bashaud Breeland - Red

Kendall Fuller - Reddish-Yellow (with potential to become Red)

D.J. Swearinger - Red

Su'a Cravens - Red

As you can see from this fictional chart, I have a lot of Reds mixed in here with a few Blues, and only two Yellows (both of whom may not actually be starters).  In comparison, here is how I would have rated last year's defense.

2016 defensive starters and key reserves:

Ziggy Hood - Yellow

Chris Baker - Red

Cullen Jenkins - Yellow

Ricky Jean-Francois - Yellow

Ryan Kerrigan - Blue

Preston Smith - Reddish-Yellow

Trent Murphy - Red

Will Compton - Yellow

Mason Foster - Reddish-Yellow

Sua' Cravens - Red

Josh Norman - Blue

Bashaud Breeland - Red

Kendall Fuller - Yellow

Duke Ihenacho - Yellow

Will Blackmon - Yellow

Donte Whitner - Yellow

You see a lot more Yellows scattered throughout the lineup in 2016, with a lot less Reds.

Now, some of the improvement I have projected from 2016 to 2017 is from attrition. But, I have projected some growth from second year players (Preston Smith and Kendall Fuller), and high-level impact from rookies.

Overall, I think, at least on paper at this point, that the Redskins have greatly improved on the defensive side of the football in 2017, and are poised for a very solid season that has the potential to see them be ranked as a top 10 unit.

How would you color-code our 2017 defensive group?