In this preseason series, I will be taking a look at the 2023 Washington Commanders roster and giving my season predictions on how each position group will perform.
Today I will look at one of the positions that is the unquestioned strength of this football team - defensive line.
Ron Rivera may have turned a blind eye to the offensive line, but he sure hasn’t done that on the other side of the football. This defensive line boasts four former firsts, and a second-round draft pick. Although Rivera was only responsible for drafting two of them, he did re-sign both Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne to contract extensions.
Much of the early talk at training camp has been around Chase Young as he looks to regain the rookie form we saw in 2020. Both Young and Montez Sweat are set to become free agents at the end of the season, so there is a lot on the line, and a lot to prove, for the duo.
Washington boasts one of the best interior tandems in the league with Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne locking up the middle. Both men have had Pro Bowl seasons, and both will look to continue their trend of dominance in the middle.
I will be focusing on the Commanders starting four for this season prediction.
Montez Sweat - Sweat, who is playing on his fifth-year option, has yet to produce a double-digit sack season in his first four years - however don’t let that fool you. When he’s on the field, he’s been very effective. Last season over 17 games, he racked up 63 pressures which was top five in the league. A career year could help earn him a new contract, and that’s exactly what I think he’ll produce this season.
Chase Young - Young enters a prove-it year after the team decided not to pick up the 2020 second overall pick’s fifth-year option. Early signs point to him being fully recovered from the knee issue that has plagued him for over a year, and if he can gain that explosiveness back that we saw as a rookie, the sky is the limit.
Jonathan Allen - Allen has been a model of consistency since his second year in the league, missing just one game and averaging 65 tackles and 6.5 sacks per season over that five-year span. He’s a team captain and the heartbeat of this defense.
Daron Payne - Payne had a career year in 2022 and parlayed that into a huge contract extension in the offseason. At just 26 years old, it’s hard to believe he’s already played five seasons in Washington. Still early in his prime, I expect another very solid season from the Pro Bowl defensive tackle.
Who will lead Washington in sacks in 2023?
This poll is closed