Since Mike Shanahan switched to a 3-4 in 2010, things have never been right on defense. The most consistent issue has been the absence of a big body anchoring the front.
Barry Cofield was a good signing in 2011, but his strength has been pressuring the pocket on passing downs from four-man front nickel schemes.
The run defense really struggled in 2013, ranking 17th overall and surrendering 110.6 yards per game. The main issue was how easy teams found it to get blockers to the linebacker level.
That was due to linemen not commanding double-teams, especially in the middle, a necessity when playing the 3-4.
Washington could solve its problems over center once and for all by trading into the first round to select Louis Nix III. The ex-Notre Dame star is easily the best true nose tackle in this draft class.
The 6'2", 331-pounder spent his collegiate career anchoring a 3-4 by absorbing blockers and letting others flourish. That makes him perfect for a Redskins system that expects its linemen to sacrifice themselves.
NFL.com draft pundit Nolan Nawrocki highlights Nix's suitability for the principles of a 3-4:
Outstanding size. Commands a double team and has two-gap ability. Good quickness off the snap. Has press strength and power to push blockers into the backfield. Shows disruptive ability when his battery is charged.
However, if the massive interior defender taps into his power more consistently, Nix has ample mass, strength and athleticism to anchor a "30" front as a space-eating, block-occupying run stuffer.
Nix is a projected late first-rounder, with NFL.com Media analyst Charles Davis predicting he'll come off the board at 27. NFL.com College Football 24/7 writer Mike Huguenin believes the San Diego Chargers will take Nix two picks earlier at 25.
The Redskins can put themselves in that conversation. Doing so would finally resolve any doubts about the most important position on the team's defensive front.
It would also allow Cofield to shift out to end and use his talent for disruption to split the guard-tackle gaps in tandem with new arrival Jason Hatcher.