Washington Football Team training camp profiles: Defensive Line
Experience: 3rd season
Draft Status: 2018 first-round pick, 13th overall
2019 Stats: 15 games (nine starts), 56 tackles, three TFL, two sacks, two pass defenses
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2020 Outlook: Allen may have been the first piece Washington acquired to strengthen their defensive line, but it was Payne who helped turn it into a force. A solid run stuffer, Payne is a great athlete that can also collapse the pocket and put pressure on quarterbacks.
For Washington, Payne will be of particular importance given the team’s shift to a 4-3 defense. He’ll need to occupy more blockers and clog running lanes to keep opposing backs bottled up. He did that when Washington played in the nickel last year and if he can do that again, he will open up opportunities for his teammates to get to the quarterback.
Essentially, Payne’s goal is twofold. Occupy blockers and bring down the ball-carrier if he gets to him. If he can add a few sacks, great. If not, he’s still certainly a worthwhile player that adds a lot to the Washington defense.
Expected Role: Starter and top run-stuffing defensive tackle. Payne is the best of Washington’s tackles against the run, so he’ll play a lot in early-down scenarios. That’ll help keep Ioannidis fresh to rush the passer. But either way, expect the Alabama product to see 60+ percent of the snaps.
Status: Roster lock. Payne is just entering his third year and he’s already a rock-solid starter. There’s no reason to consider moving him, especially since he’s just scratching the surface of what he can be as a pass rusher.