The defensive line fix could come from within; that’s what the Washington Redskins hope. The Redskins signed two linemen they liked in free agency — Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain. But that’s all they’ve done to fix a problem area.
The solution could be — in part at least — second-year Anthony Lanier. He was a raw player as a rookie last summer in training camp, having played at Alabama A&M. He showed athleticism, but he also looked like someone with plenty to learn.
But he’s bulked up to 290 pounds, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. After a full year working in the NFL, and after an offseason spent with new line coach Jim Tomsula, the Redskins hope Lanier can be more than an intriguing prospect this summer.
“We’re really, really excited about Anthony Lanier,” Gruden said.
The Redskins actually feel OK about their line — their desire is to find another pass-rusher at some point (likely in the draft).
Lanier’s development will be key to building a better line. The Redskins have lacked young players worth developing in recent years. They also have Matt Ioannidis, a fifth-round pick last year. But Lanier offered traits that might — stress on might — offset other moves that weren’t made this offseason.
Gruden was enthusiastic talking about Lanier during the owners meetings. He liked Lanier’s length — he’s 6-foot-6 with long arms. During one-on-one pass rushes in practice, Gruden said Lanier stood out. Whether it’s just offseason optimism or false hope will be determined starting in late July. For now, it’s a time to dream and Gruden saw enough during those drills to hope for more in 2017.
“That’s where games are won in my opinion. And he was a guy that was one of the most difficult for our guys to block,” Gruden said. “He was not a very natural rusher either. He was doing it on pure power, length. And the more he works coming out of his stance, getting off on the snap count, hand usage, all the things Coach Tomsula worked with him, I think he’s got a chance to be really, really good.”