Currently the Washington Redskins have seven options at defensive end and may keep between 4-5 guys (depending on their versatility). Though on paper it looks as though their top four guys are set, things have been known to change. Also the future is pretty important as guys like Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker need to produce at a certain level to justify their contracts. 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.
-Bowen is a good solid starter for Redskins, but unfortunately hasn’t shown himself to be capable of much more than the lower end of Tier 2. On the plus side he’s been a better run defender than expected, but has not lived up to his billing as a quality 5 technique pass rusher. He had solid numbers his first year in Washington (though still not what was expected), but no player felt the loss of Brian Orakpo more than Bowen this past year. Offensive linemen were able to give Bowen far more attention, which led to him being completely taken out of a number of games this year. Bowen is still expected to be the Redskins top defensive end, but he’s got to show himself to be more of a pass rusher this year.
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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-Jenkins was the Redskins 2nd rounder in 2011, unfortunately an ACL injury in preseason wiped out his entire rookie year. While he came back from the injury last year, he wasn’t 100% (which isn’t surprising). He didn’t show the same bust and quickness from the year before, but still got better as the season wore on. During the Redskins seven game winning streak to close out the season, Jenkins became a pretty stout run defender and showed some nice promise for the coming year. Given that players recovering from ACL injuries typically don’t get back to full strength until their 2nd full year back, there is some reason to hope Jenkins fully develops. One concern though is his lack of ability with generating pressure or even pushing the pocket.
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.
-Carriker has been a borderline Tier 3/Tier 4 player throughout his career. He’s never lived up to his first round billing, and is at best as a rotational player. He struggles to offer much in the way of a consistent pass rush, and is best served playing on running downs. Though typically he would probably be given the benefit of the doubt and put in Tier 3, he’s coming off a major injury from last season. On top of that reports are he suffered a setback in his recovery making both his availability and productivity serious question marks for next season.
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.
-Golston is the poster boy for an upper Tier 5 ranking. He’s simply not a starter and isn’t good when used in that capacity. As a rotational sub though he can offer 10-20 solid snaps a game. He likely won’t make many splash plays, but he also won’t hurt a team either. He’s not a lock to make the Redskins, but it is likely.
-Worthington was on the Redskins practice squad in 2011, and at the start of 2012. When Adam Carriker went down with injury, Worthington was promoted to the active roster and got about 50 snaps this past year. Though he is definitely behind the top 4 guys, Worthington could be a solid Tier 5 back-up type if needed.
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.
-Merling is a former 32nd overall pick in the draft (2008), out of Clemson. He quickly became one of the bigger busts in that draft, and was released last year by the Dolphins. He was signed by the Packers, but lasted just three weeks into the season before they cut him as well. Merling had a lot of promise coming out of college, but hasn’t come close to showing he can reach that potential. He’s a long shot to make the team, but is a decent camp body to have, given his potential, youth and familiarity with the 3-4.
-Hamilton was an undrafted free agent last year out of Missouri, that eventually made his way to the Redskins practice squad. He’s got a nice frame and the size to go with it. He showed flashes in college of nice quickness as well as the strength to hold-up at the point of attack. Though he’s on the outside looking in, he’s an intriguing guy to watch on the Redskins practice squad.
What do you think? How would you rank the Redskins defensive end options? And do you think they should look to upgrade?