Taking a look at the defense now that the big moves are done through free agency. Other moves may follow in the draft or after some players are cut by other teams. For now, this is where things stand. Today, I'll take a quick look at the defensive line.
Projected starting lineup: Paea at left end, Knighton at nose tackle and Jason Hatcher at right end.
Better or worse: Better, but they will need Knighton to be in at least OK shape and motivated. If that occurs, the run defense will benefit. You can live with 350-plus pounds, as general manager Scot McCloughan said Knighton weighs -- but not 350-plus-plus. A one-year deal should be a motivator. Knighton's power in the middle works best when you have players on the outside who can get upfield. They also need Hatcher to be healthy this season. He and Paea could be a strong duo in their nickel packages, both with the ability to collapse the pocket. Paea showed an ability to do that in Chicago last year and it’s reasonable to expect that to continue. He could end up being the best they signed up front because of his fundamentally-sound style paired with his quickness. The Redskins still didn’t push the pocket, unless it was Hatcher when he was healthy -- and he wasn’t healthy enough. At times he looked dominant, but the knee eventually caused problems in his game. Also, these moves likely push Chris Baker back to a reserve, someone who can help at both end and nose.
Should they address in the draft: They don’t need to, but if something odd happens and Leonard Williams falls to them at No. 5, they could easily justify taking him. With Hatcher turning 33 before the season they would have a young, talented player to take over for a long time. Short of that, the Redskins don’t need to use a high pick up front. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t draft someone -- depth is a constant battle up front. But their offseason moves lessen the need. They also have Frank Kearse and Kedric Golston, both of whom are versatile, and could re-sign nose tackle Chris Neild.