In most 3-4 defenses, success often rests on linemen holding off blockers and letting linebackers penetrate and make plays. Linemen should be big and agile, with the ability to seal the edge on rushing plays and collapse the pocket on passing downs.
Last year’s defensive ends were an undersized group, for the most part. Some were converted 4-3 defensive end and tackles. Some were not ideal fits for the system, a contributing factor to the Redskins’ 31st-ranked defense.
The Redskins went into the 2011 NFL Draft looking to upgrade the defensive end position. In the second round, the team selected
At 6-4, 310 pounds, Jenkins is regarded as an explosive, aggressive end who can help cement the defensive front. Perhaps as importantly, he has a team-first mindset to allow the linebackers to do their jobs.
“Individual accomplishments come after team accomplishments and that’s one thing I focused on at Clemson,” Jenkins told the Washington, D.C., media after he was drafted on April 29.
With 164 tackles in college, including 31 tackles for a loss, Jenkins was a big part of why Clemson ranked in the top 25 in seven defensive categories last year.
"He has pretty good size, good quickness, explosion," head coach Mike Shanahan said of Jenkins. "I like the way he reacts and plays the run. He has the skills we look for."
Carriker is the favorite for the starting job at left defensive end. He held that position for all 16 games last season, but didn't really establish himself on defense until late in the season when he turned in several strong games.
Carriker, a former first round pick of the Rams, was traded to the Redskins last offseason in a deal that included a swap of draft picks.
Carriker had fallen out of favor in St. Louis, but he was a veteran of Jim Haslett’s defensive scheme and played fairly well for the Redskins. He posted 54 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
"He's what you look for in a 3-4 defensive end," Shanahan said of Carriker. "He's big, strong, and powerful and plays his gap. I'm really happy the way he's played and the way he's handled himself since he has been here.”
Jarmon, now going into his third year, should have an opportunity to compete for playing time, and possibly a starting job, now that he's one year removed from rehabbing a knee ligament injury.
Selected in the third round of the 2009 Supplemental Draft, Jarmon saw limited playing time last year. He collected six tackles and a half-sack. He was drafted to be a 4-3 end, so he will have to show that he’s adjusted to the new scheme.
Golston is had a solid season in 2010, compiling 57 tackles, best of any defensive end on the roster. He has proven to be a steady defender and he has emerged as a leader. It’s uncertain if Golston is going to return to the Redskins for the 2011 season, though.
Vonnie Holliday and Phillip Daniels provide veteran depth at this point in their careers. As reserves last season, Holliday totaled 42 tackles and 2.5 sacks, while Daniels tallied 31 tackles and two sacks.
Give Holliday the edge over Daniels, should a roster decision come down to the two veterans. Daniels played his entire career in a 4-3 scheme before last year, while Holliday has played in both the 4-3 and 3-4.
Scott, a former starter for the Vikings, was signed prior to Week 16 last year and played in two games. He totaled six tackles in a backup role. Before his cameo with the Redskins last year, he had been out of football since 2007.
It’s possible that the Redskins could upgrade defensive end in free agency. With rookie Jenkins added to the mix, this position could be a competitive one in training camp.