Breaking down the Redskins defensive line depth chart for 2019
By Ian Cummings
JoJo Wicker, Ryan Bee, Austin Maloata, and Jonathan Bonner
There’s no guarantee any of these players make the Washington Redskins’ roster. The Redskins started the 2018 season with five defensive linemen, and only added a sixth when they activated Stacy McGee off of the PUP list in November. It’s a unit that was generally healthy in 2018, and in 2019, having a surplus of available players might not be a necessity, especially with uncertainty elsewhere.
That said, the Redskins do have some intriguing traits in this group of reserves; traits that could demand retainment of sorts on the practice squad. Wicker, who was initially signed by the Redskins nine months ago, has some explosiveness that could be honed with proper coaching. Ryan Bee, meanwhile, is a looming presence at 6-foot-7, 280 pounds, who brings length, energy, and upside (For more about him, see this writeup by our own Jacob Camenker).
Jonathan Bonner and Austin Maloata join Bee as undrafted free agents, from Notre Dame and Austin Peay, respectively. At around 6-foot-4, 290, Bonner is a well-sized defensive lineman who provides versatility, and showed burst in limited flashes. Maloata, meanwhile, has a stocky build, and while he rarely produced at Austin Peay, he could find a way to stick around in the NFL, if Jim Tomsula can unlock some upside.
Despite the redeemable qualities displayed by these players, making the 53-man roster is a tall task for each of them, and ultimately an unlikely feat. JoJo Wicker figures to have the best chance; he’s the best athlete out of the group, and he has the most experience with the team. But last season, the Redskins only kept five linemen to start, and all four of these players are on the outside looking in. It shouldn’t be hard for the Redskins to stash at least one on the practice squad as insurance. Thus, using a roster spot is not warranted by the talent present.
Washington’s defensive line is genuinely one of the league’s most exciting position groups, with All-Pro potential at the top, and more under-the-radar upside waiting in the wings. All of it runs through Jim Tomsula, and if his track record is any indication, the Redskins revamped defensive line is still on the rise.