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Which prospects have the Redskins met with, and what does it tell us? Defense Edition.

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NCAA Football: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The website NFLtraderumors.co has done a really nice job compiling the list of prospect visit for each of the NFL teams, keeping a running tally as the all-star games took place and eventually teams met with players at the Combine. Team visit information was also supplemented with reporting from The Athletic and NBC Sports.

We’ll do a deeper dive into these lists to see if anything more poignant, in terms of the team’s draft intentions, can be derived from whom they’ve met with so far.

Defense

DL

  • Khalil Davis (Shrine Bowl) - The better of two twin defensive linemen out of Nebraska, Davis had an impressive Combine. He, as well as most of the players on this list, could represent depth and DL pipeline for the Redskins.
  • Michael Danna (Shrine Bowl) - Danna was multi-year starter at Central Michigan before transferring as a graduate student to the University of Michigan last year. His production dropped off considerably against the higher level of competition, and he projects to potentially serve as a pass rushing specialist at the next level.
  • Austin Edwards (Shrine Bowl) - This Division II All American from Ferris State racked up 10.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss (64 total tackles) in 2019.
  • John Penisini (Shrine Bowl) - A girthy nose tackle with an unfortunate last name, Penisini is a beast against the run, but a likely pass rush liability. He projects as an early down specialist in the NFL.
  • Derrek Tuszka (Shrine Bowl) - Tuskza was the Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year, helping lead North Dakota State to multiple FCS championships and amassing 13.5 sacks in 2019. He was athletic enough to dominate lesser competition in college, but could end up being a special teamer in the pros.
  • James Smith-Williams (Shrine Bowl) - Smith-Williams has apparently undergone an impressive physical transformation at NC State, but he’s also had multiple season ending injuries. He has UDFA written all over him, if he is picked up at all.
  • Chase Young (Combine) - What else can be said about Young that hasn’t already been written? He’s considered by many to be the best prospect in the entire NFL draft. An elite pass rusher, who is effective against the run, he’s the odds on favorite to be taken by the Redskins at #2 overall. With that kind of potential investment, if makes sense to get as much face time as possible with him.

LB

  • Shaquille Quarterman (Shrine Bowl) - A thumping hitter who compiled 189 tackles (and 29.5 TFLs) in his final two years as the leader of Miami’s linebacking group, he will be an asset in the run game. A strong tackler with weak coverage skills, he will likely end up as an early down specialist.
  • Mykal Walker (Shrine Bowl) - Walker was a first team All Mountain West defender in both his junior and senior years at Fresno State, amassing 182 tackles and 22.5 TFLs. He has scheme versatility and good field awareness, but a lack of pro speed and strength.
  • Michael Pinckney (Shrine Bowl) - Pinckney played in the same linebacker group as Quarterman at Miami. He was second team All ACC in 2019, collecting 64 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, and 5 sacks. Like most of the LBs on this list, however, his athletic limitations likely cap his possibilities in the pros.
  • Kyahva Tezino (Shrine Bowl) - Tezino racked up an impressive 225 tackles, 12 sacks, and 2 interceptions over his last two seasons at San Diego State. Like most lower competition prospects, he has athletic limitations that will likely constrain him to a run specialist and special teams role at the next level.
  • Malik Harrison (Senior Bowl) - In 2019, Harrison was the Buckeyes’ top tackler (75 tackles, 16.5 TFLs). He has some upside as a pass rushing ILB, though has limitations in coverage. He is likely LB depth and a special teams contributor in the NFL.
  • Khaleke Hudson (Senior Bowl) - Hudson played a hybrid LB/S position at Michigan and is likely going to have to settle on one or the other in the pros. He was a special teams demon, blocking 5 punts in his college career.
  • Cam Brown (Senior Bowl) - Perhaps the most promising of this group of LBs, Brown performed well on his athletic measurables (other than the bench press, 16 reps) at the Combine. He’s a developmental prospect with some potential pass rush upside who needs to put on muscle to be an NFL caliber starter.

CB

S

  • Shyheim Carter (Shrine Bowl) - Carter has some flexibility on the back end of the defense, with the ability to play strong safety, free safety, or nickel. Unlike his safety companion at Alabama, Xavier McKinney, Carter is not likely to go at the top of the draft. In fact, he could very easily end up being a late Day 3 pick.
  • Jordan Glasglow (Shrine Bowl) - Initially a walk on, Glasglow moved from safety to middle linebacker in 2019, filling in at VIPER - a hybrid position in the Michigan defense that encompasses the role of safety, linebacker and pass rusher depending on the down. He likely has a future primarily as a special teamer in the NFL.
  • Jeremiah Dinson (Shrine Bowl) - Projects as a late round pick or UDFA, Auburn’s leading tackler (88), Dinson, was a Combine snub. As a freshman at Texas A&M, Dinson suffered a brutal set of injuries as a result of a blindside block, which could be something teams keep in mind.

Themes and Takeaways

With the exception of Young, this group of defenders is so aggressively mediocre (or worse), I figure it can only mean a few things:

  1. The Redskins’ scouting staff has done such a thorough job vetting the defensive talent in the college ranks this year that they’re spending the rest of their time doing deep dives into guys who are likely to go in the 5th round or later, and who are most likely only depth or special teamers.
  2. Other than at the top of the draft, the Redskins aren’t expecting to use much draft capital in the first half of the draft to build the defense. This is somewhat consistent with Rivera saying he’s happy with the youth on the team at the cornerback position. There isn’t much starting caliber safety talent in this draft after about the second round (where I expect the Redskins might go to the free agent market for a stopgap). The defensive line, particularly with Young, would be absolutely stacked. The linebacking corps is one area that could potentially be improved in the draft (or with an early selection of Isaiah Simmons).
  3. The Redskins are looking for versatility on the back end of the defense. Several of those interviewed above fit the LB/S hybrid mold and played in dynamic defensive schemes in college.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the defensive players the Redskins have interviewed so far,