The Washington Redskins still have a hole at the nose tackle position. But, they are bringing in Alabama nose tackle Da’Ron Payne for a pre-draft visit.
This offseason is looking like the one that will finally see the Redskins upgrade their nose tackle position. Since shifting to a 3-4 defense, the team has lacked a high-quality run stuffer in the middle of their defense. For the past two years, Ziggy Hood has been forced to man the spot out of position, and he has only be a marginal talent at best. He’s better suited as an end, so finding a starter was a priority for the team this offseason.
That said, through early April, the team hadn’t brought in anyone to take over for Hood. They did re-sign Phil Taylor to another one-year deal, but he hasn’t played an NFL game since 2014 and was injured during the 2017 preseason and placed on IR. So, he is far from a sure thing, but he could be a quality backup.
Still, the Redskins are going to have to add a quality talent to officially start at the position. While Johnathan Hankins is the best value on the free agent market, he seems unlikely to sign. So, they will have to grab someone in the draft. They have showed interest in Vita Vea, and now they are showing interest in another first round option.
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Per Ben Standig of Sports Capitol DC, the Redskins are setting a pre-draft meeting with Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne. This is a very smart move for the team, as Payne could end up being the best option for the team with the No. 13 pick.
I’m a big believer in Payne as a player, and I think he’s one of the best nose tackles the draft has seen in quite some time. Payne has incredible athletic ability, and he put on a show at the Combine, demonstrating excellent movement skills and strength. He should be versatile enough to play any position across a defensive front, and he has the athletic ability to be a great run stuffer and pass rusher. That should allow him to be a force as he develops.
Pairing Payne with Jim Tomsula could reap massive rewards. Tomsula has worked wonders with solid defensive linemen, so getting him a man with upper echelon athleticism could allow him to unlock more of Payne’s potential. Also, pairing Payne with Jonathan Allen seems like a good move, as the two worked well together at Alabama.
Payne’s visit is a good sign. It means that the Redskins realize they have to fill the hole they have at nose tackle. Payne should be a great first round option, as is probably near the top of the Redskins big board in terms of players who will be available with the No. 13 pick.