How Tavaris Barnes can make the roster
Barnes won’t be beating out any of the Washington Redskins’ top five defensive linemen. Those slots are largely set. Barnes’ window onto the Washington Redskins roster is a small one, but it’s there, nonetheless. It is the sixth spot on the defensive line. Barnes will have to battle Ziggy Hood, Stacy McGee, Phil Taylor, and Ondre Pipkins for it.
Of those players, Barnes has the most promising traits as a 3-4 end, and he’s fairly high on the upside scale as well. But again, it comes back to the burning question: Can he put it all together with Jim Tomsula?
Ziggy Hood and Stacy McGee figure to be the top two candidates for the sixth spot, given the Washington Redskins’ recent improvements at nose tackle. Hood gives the team a reliable veteran presence, while McGee gives the Washington Redskins a bit of run stopping security on the middle. He can also play end, albeit to a lesser degree.
Barnes has both these players beat, in terms of explosive ability, but he’ll need to find some consistency, and work on his fundamentals over the summer. If there’s anyone who can mold raw talent and direct it efficiently, it’s Jim Tomsula. But despite that, Barnes is growing older, and it’s fair to wonder how much practice time the Washington Redskins would dare to invest in an aging project who’s never shown what he can do in the NFL. He could find a way onto the rotation. But he has an uphill battle ahead of him, just like any other Unheralded Player.
The key is Tomsula. If he buys into the potential, and if Barnes works well with Tomsula’s style, then he could find himself undergoing a mid-career resurgence with the Washington Redskins as a rotational spark plug. He’ll have to show quite a bit to convince the team to part ways with both Ziggy Hood and Stacy McGee, if they ultimately keep six. As past Unheralded Players have showed us, it isn’t impossible. It never is.