Even though they had one of the worst defenses statistically last season, the Redskins’ defensive highlights belong largely to the linebackers.
Between veteran leader London Fletcher and All-Pro OLBs Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, Washington has a real solid group. Throw in guys like Perry Riley and Rob Jackson, and you've got a pretty good rotation going.
With the addition of Brandon Jenkins through the draft, they added some serious punch to their pass rush. Although Jenkins is unproven, he will get a chance to show his worth sooner than later.
All in all, linebacker is one of the bright spots on the Redskins’ roster.
It is no surprise that Fletcher is one of the best in the league at his position, and his intangibles on and off the field make him an invaluable piece of Washington’s defense.
Aside from Fletcher, there are two guys that especially stand out. The pairing of Orakpo and Kerrigan is arguably the best bookend rush linebackers in the NFL.
Although Orakpo is coming off of an injury, he should be able to bounce back and regain his form as a Pro Bowl player. The greatest thing about Kerrigan is that his best days are still ahead of him.
One of the most underrated moves the Redskins made this offseason was drafting Jenkins in the fifth round. If it weren’t for an injury his last year of college, he likely would’ve been a first round pick, and that type of ability should carry over just fine into the pros. Jenkins will turn out to be a steal for Washington.
There isn’t really much bad at the linebacker position for the Redskins. The only guy who I would classify as not-so-good is Bryan Kehl. He hasn’t played a full season since his rookie year in 2008, and has never had more than 28 tackles in a season.
While he certainly doesn’t hurt Washington’s defense, he doesn’t exactly help them either. He’s also not an awesome special-teamer, so his importance to the Redskins isn’t exactly paramount.
I see Kehl as essentially the lesser of two evils; if Washington had a guy go down with an injury and needed someone to step in, better the veteran Kehl than an unexperienced rookie.
Still, Kehl doesn’t add a whole lot.
Again, there’s not a whole lot to complain about at linebacker for the Redskins. For now, I’ll put Keenan Robinson in this category, and I fully expect for y’all give me some heat in the comments.
Robinson had only nine tackles in 11 games last season, and just didn’t make an impact. Whether he was given a whole lot of opportunities to or not, he didn’t make the most of his playing time.
It all sorta goes back to the old adage, “it’s not the count of your snaps, it’s making your snaps count.” Well, Robinson must not have been that great in math, because he didn’t do much counting last season.
Personally, I would love to see him succeed. There’s a lot he can (and most likely is) learning from his teammates, but he has to step it up this coming season in order to keep his roster spot, or else he will risk being on the chopping block.
Get ready, Ted Allen.