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Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays

It’s time for the Alabama linebackers to step up for the Washington Redskins in 2019.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Whether you are in favor of the Redskins adding a rookie quarterback early in the draft or deep into the draft, we can likely agree that either rookie will benefit most from the young talent on the Redskins defense stepping up in the 2019 season. Setting aside for a moment which (or any) defensive player we draft, our attention should rightfully turn to some young players that are about to take huge steps this year—forward or backward. We have witnessed our two most recent first-round draft picks (Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne) play at an incredibly high level for the Redskins. As those two defensive linemen grow into their roles/careers, it is now up to the linebackers behind them to start showing that they can take advantage of the stout play in front of them. The irony is that the first three names off the tongue happen to be college teammates of Payne and Allen: Ryan Anderson, Reuben Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton. These three are all 25 years and younger and could easily end up starting at linebacker spots, and for Washington to succeed, they need production out of this trio. More on Anderson below. As for SDH, the guy would have been drafted higher if not for a couple injuries in college—that matters, of course, but his natural ability would have seen him taken higher than the sixth round. I am here to tell you that he is a player and could turn into one of the big stories in Washington this year. We need to steer clear of injuries, and he does need to make the most of camp coming up, but it says here Shaun Dion Hamilton has what it takes to solidify the middle of the Redskins defense.
  2. I am going to hold off on discussing what Reuben Foster can do for our defense in 2019 beyond the obvious: he is a beast of a linebacker who has enough talent to change the fortunes of his team. He represents an upgrade in talent from what we have had, though he has to prove he is not a downgrade between the ears—Mason Foster and Zach Brown knew their job the way smart veterans do. We can carry the conversation forward once his off-field situation becomes fully resolved.
  3. I have not really engaged heavily in the Adrian Peterson (old) news of his signing. When we brought him in last season, I was unafraid to talk about him getting to 1,000 yards. After all, he was going to get the carries if he was able to stay healthy. Let’s play that game again, this time under the assumption that Derrius Guice is healthy and playing this season. What kind of stat line do you think Adrian Peterson finishes with this season, and do you think his impact could be felt in the playoff race? (Again, we can’t be afraid to talk about what could be possible—if Guice, Thompson and Peterson are healthy, our running game could be very effective.)
  4. Getting back to that first round pick...again. All this talk about “winning now” does NOT lend itself to the team going after a quarterback, despite what some would have you believe. Since we already agree as a group that we aren’t trading up for a quarterback in this draft, we know that we won’t be getting anyone who is likely to start immediately and be successful. The positions where the Redskins need the most immediate impact is at receiver and at pass-rusher, and both positions will have some mid-round representation on the first day of the draft. Instead of making a case for the pass-rusher (again) in this space, let me just say that if the Redskins were to be so fortunate as to land EITHER a wide receiver OR a pass-rusher that blew up in their rookie years, it would be a game-changer for the squad. The Josh Doctson pain is still fresh, and the recent successes the team has had drafting defensive players lead me in the pass rusher direction, but that doesn’t eliminate the need for a wide receiver. Let’s be real honest here: even if we go pass-rusher in the first and wide receiver in the second or third, that wide receiver will be coming in with HUGE expectations.
  5. In my value spot today, Ryan Anderson inspires the theme of the day. In Ryan’s case, we are at more of a “we drafted this guy in the second round and he needs to perform” place than we are at a “won’t it be great if this guy plays well” place. Anderson is on the books for two more seasons at a very reasonable salary of approx. $1 million per year (about $1.5 million against the cap per year). We know that top OLB’s make WAY more than that (51 OLB’s on Spotrac make more than him and over 30 guys make over twice as much as him), so here we are again, hoping to get production out of a player on a favorable contract. Anderson’s career has not gotten off to the start some of us may have hoped for when we first heard the team draft the stud linebacker out of Alabama, but anyone thinking about giving up on a guy who absolutely ran things at Alabama needs to slow down. It is fair to tell me that I might be over-hyping the kind of role a player like Anderson fills on a team, because in the NFL (as with most pro leagues), true leadership comes out of the starting lineup and even more so from the guy(s) who fill the stat sheet. That said, Anderson is pretty close to getting onto the field as a starter, and if I am right about the kind of guy he is, we will need him more than ever if and when we try and work Reuben Foster into the mix. Ryan is a physical player who has shown some limitations, but I will be looking to see if he can evolve into a player who learns how to minimize those limitations. Let’s face it, almost every player has them. It would be too easy to write off Anderson as a guy that didn’t work out for the Redskins, and I think it would be incredibly short-sighted and foolish to do so. Like the other players I have spotlighted in this space, Ryan Anderson has a huge opportunity to return considerable value to the team this season and next if and when he turns into a three-down contributor.
  6. Hogs Haven is about to be on the clock in the annual SB Nation Mock Draft. I will be putting out our pick tomorrow on the podcast and working through the emotions of watching certain players go before it is our turn. Thankfully, there is no Ryan Kelly destined to be drafted in the pick before us this year. In the interest of making it at least slightly interesting, I will give you three players that are already gone: Dwayne Haskins, Brian Burns and Jonah Williams. I can honestly say I would not draft one of those players if he fell to me (take a guess), but the other two are on my short list. Tune in tomorrow night at 9 PM for The Audible, as we continue our Offseason On the Brink coverage! Here is the link to our channel—subscribe for free! The pick will be made on the air, and Tim will be manning the comments section...mostly just calling out the various things people are mocking me about.