The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles used first-round picks in April on defensive linemen. How will Jonathan Allen and Derek Barnett fare Sunday?
In late April in the City of Brotherly Love, the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys all decided to do the same thing. No, the teams didn’t meet for cheese steaks or hang out at Chickie’s and Pete’s to reminisce about the 2016 NFL season.
All three teams opted for a defensive end in the first round of the draft this year. With the 14th overall selection, the Birds opted for University of Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. At No. 28, the Cowboys grabbed Michigan’s Taco Charlton. And somewhere in the middle at No. 17, the Redskins were fortunate to have University of Alabama’s Jonathan Allen fall into their laps.
Later today at FedExField, we’ll get the chance to see the latter and Barnett on the same field. Redskins’ head coach Jay Gruden is looking forward to seeing what the team’s first-round brings to the table this year. “I’m excited to see Jonathan Allen play,” explained Gruden to John Keim of ESPN. “We haven’t had an interior pass-rusher like that, or an impact-type player like that in a long time and I feel good about what he can do.”
During the preseason, we got an opportunity to see Barnett flash his potential as a pass rusher. He totaled six tackles, three sacks and four quarterback hits this summer. And head coach Doug Pederson hinted that we could see the rookie sooner than later on Sunday.
“It will a great test for him, and, really, all our starters for the most part, because this will be the first time to go 60 minutes with these guys,” said the Birds’ sideline leader to Martin Frank of the News Journal. “We have just got to be careful with fatigue early in the game, obviously. That’s why we keep these defensive linemen fresh. He’ll have a big impact, I think, in that role.”
When watching the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, keep an eye on both of these young defenders as they look to make their mark in Week 1.
Russell S. Baxter is the Washington Redskins lead writer for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @baxfootballguru. Looking for more Redskins news and features? Like our Facebook page HERE and also follow @spot_redskins on Twitter.