Currently the Washington Redskins have five options at nose tackle and may keep between 2-3 guys (depending on their versatility). Though their top guy is set, their depth is up in the air, especially past this season. It’s very much a rotational position so depth is key, as is versatility for these players. Here is how they rank, including predictions for where they end-up. Tiers are based off of what their expected value is for 2013, due to a combination of past production and likely potential. Overall potential, or contract status is not really taken into account.
Description: Top level starter, at elite or near elite level, absolute lock to both make the team and start. Won’t face any competition for his job.
Description: Quality starter who may have some minor struggles in a given year, but overall is a good football player. Should both easily make the team and start.
-Cofield has been a good solid starter in the NFL, and has shown himself to be a talented versatile lineman. Though originally considered undersized as a nose tackle, he had a much better year two for the Redskins. He really showed up against the pass this past year, getting a number of pressures, pushing the pocket and knocking down passes. He’s still doesn’t play the run well enough, and did his best work when he played off the nose position in passing situations. He’s still a good starter who can give the Redskins 650-750 snaps, though ideally would see the majority of his work on passing downs.
Description: Passable starter, can play the position and be okay, but won’t consistently play at a high level. Will be streaky throughout the season and over the course of many seasons. Depending on position would be better served as a good role player, or would be the best reserve player at a position. Should make the team, though not a lock and should face competition for a starting job.
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Description: Replacement level starter. This is a guy who could start in a pinch or as a long-term injury replacement but will max out as an average starter, and will probably be below average. He’s a guy who could be okay as a short term filler, but over an extended period will struggle. Depending on position could be a solid player, or would be a good back-up. Has a decent chance to make the team, and could get a look at a starting job, but nothing is set in stone for him.
Description: Solid back-up caliber player. Shouldn’t really ever start, and would be below average in that capacity, but can be a short term injury replacement. Shouldn’t even be much of a role player depending on the position, their best value is in their reliability as a replacement. Depending on the position, should be capable of backing up multiple positions or roles to increase their value. Has a chance to make the team, but really shouldn’t be considered a starting option at all.
-Baker had an impressive preseason last year going up against back-up offensive lineman and probably was in line for a roster spot even before Chris Neild‘s injury. He was Barry Cofield’s primary back-up last year and got over 200 snaps (almost 20% playing time). Baker didn’t fare as well going up against starters and really didn’t make many impact plays. He held his own in run defense, but didn’t offer much as a pass rusher. He’s likely to make the team, but his peak appears to be Tier 4, and Tier 5 is more likely.
-Neild had a nice rookie year for a 7th round pick including two sacks in his first game. He didn’t really do much to distinguish himself beyond that, but he didn’t look completely lost either. He suffered an ACL injury last year in training camp, making his future status very much up in the air. Normally you’d at least expect him to be up one Tier by this point, but with a lost year and a chance that he might not be 100% (typically it is not until a player’s 2nd year after an ACL that they are back to 100%), it could be a struggle for him to make the team.
-Former 2nd round pick by the New England Patriots. Displays ideal size and power and decent quickness off the ball. Has struggled to develop, and has never lived up to his potential. Has had both issues with injuries and conditioning. The latter of which buried him on the New England depth chart. Consistency has been a real issue with him as well. Has the potential to be a better lineman and a really good back-up for the Redskins, but he’s going to have to grow in his work ethic and maturity.
Description: Replacement level player. Not considered at all for a starting role, and isn’t even considered a viable back-up. Really only has a shot to make the team if injuries thin out the competition. Overall has a poor chance to make a roster, and is a player who will likely be replaced during the season.
-Former undrafted free agent from Morehouse State. Was on the Colts and Redskins practice squad a year ago. Big body guy, who shows a lot of power. Not known for his quickness and looks to be just a nose tackle prospect. Long shot to make the team, but definitely could get another practice squad look.
What do you think? How would you rank the Redskins nose tackle options? And do you think they should look to upgrade?