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Redskins' Roster Review: Nose Tackles


With offseason workouts beginning next week at Redskins Park,'s Brian Tinsman takes a look at the team's strengths and offers storylines to watch. Up next: nose tackles.

Over his first two seasons in Washington, Redskins' starting nose tackle Barry Cofield has provided the Redskins with everything they were hoping for.

On the field, he has started all 33 games, lending stability to a 3-4 defensive line that is still establishing its identity.

In the locker room, Cofield embodied leadership and was voted by his peers as one of the 2012 team captains.

Despite transitioning to the 3-4 nose tackle from the 4-3 defensive tackle, Cofield has performed well above expectations and sets the tone for the front end of the defense.

When Chris Neild tore his ACL in the preseason last year, the team turned to third-year lineman Chris Baker to fill the void. Baker responded with an impressive preseason and ably filled the void behind Cofield.

Heading into the Redskins' 2013 training camp, the Redskins should have a good competition behind Cofield, in a field that includes Neild, Baker and newcomer Ron Brace.

Given the depth on the defensive line, the Redskins' coaches are hoping for difficult decisions based on standout preseason and practice performances.



Redskins' nose tackles currently under contract for next season: Barry Cofield, Chris Neild, Chris Baker, Ron Brace.

Players no longer on the roster: None.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett called Cofield special, and suggested that in the next year he will become one of the best nose tackles in the NFL, if he isn't there already.

Head coach Mike Shanahan called Cofield a very deserving pick as a team captain, while pointing out that Cofield was deserving of Pro Bowl consideration this season.

From 2011 to 2012, Cofield increased his tackles (54), tackles for a loss (five), quarterback pressures (35) and added a forced fumble.

Since joining the Redskins, he is among the best pass defensing interior linemen in the NFL with 14 batted passes.

Baker signed his restricted free agent tender on Wednesday, bringing him back for an encore performance to his breakout season last year.

Armed with the versatility to play anywhere on the line, Baker was Cofield's primary backup last season and responded with 26 tackles, one for a loss, and four quarterback pressures.

When fully recovered from the knee injury that prematurely ended his 2012 season, Neild will challenge Baker for the job.

Neild was a seventh-round sensation in 2011, spelling Cofield for 10-15 plays per game and plugging the middle of the line against the run.

The X-factor in this competition is the addition of Brace in the offseason. Brace enters his fifth season in the NFL, all with the New England Patriots, with 39 career games under his belt.

The competitions at nose tackle and defensive end will be worth watching during the preseason, as the personnel in one may closely affect the other.


NFL Nose Tackles Available In Free Agency

As of April 11, 2013; names listed are in no particular order:

--Casey Hampton, Pittsburgh Steelers: The Redskins' defense had statistical success against the run last season, but that was due in large part to opponents abandoning the run during the team's seven-game win streak. Hampton would be a superb addition to the team's run defense, plugging up the middle of the line as he has for his entire career in Pittsburgh.

--Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans Saints: The former No. 7 overall pick from the 2008 NFL Draft has hardly matched the hype, but is still just 27 years old. He has been a reliable starter in the middle of the Saints line for the last three seasons and may simply need a change of scenery to unlock his potential. May be better suited at defensive end.

--Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Baltimore Ravens: A reunion with Washington is unlikely for a number of reasons, but Kemoeatu showed last year that he still has something to give. He joined the Ravens in training camp out of de facto retirement, then seized the starting job at nose tackle. He started 13 regular season games and every playoff contest en route to a Super Bowl ring.


Collegiate Nose Tackles Available In The Draft

As of April 11, 2013; names listed are in no particular order:

-- Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern: The 3-4 nose tackle is known for tying up blockers, but Williams is a legitimately talented pass-rusher, collecting 25.5 sacks from the interior line in three seasons. He has good size (6-1, 341 pounds) performed well at the Senior Bowl and could be available in the second or third rounds.

--Kwame Geathers, Georgia: A massive man (6-5, 342), Geathers may have cost himself a higher draft slot by electing to go pro early. He played as part of a rotation at Georgia and would likely need some rotational seasoning before becoming an impact player in the NFL. Should be available in the middle rounds of the draft.

-- Brandon Moore, Texas: Another odd choice to turn pro early, Moore played one season at Texas after a transferring from Eastern Mississippi Community College, who won the NJCAA National Championship in 2011. Moore has good size (6-5, 320 pounds) and has shown a knack for penetrating the line, tallying 18 tackles, eight for a loss and two sacks for the Longhorns. Look for him in the late rounds or possibly free agency.

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