Da’Ron Payne might have been an impact player for the Crimson Tide defense, but will we see that impact translate to the NFL.
After finishing dead last in rushing yards allowed per game last season with 134.1 yards per game, an impactful run defender was a crucial need for Washington. A plethora of younger talent already populates this side of the ball, making this an ideal fit for Da’Ron Payne.
In a class filled with athletic defensive lineman, Payne went right after another athletic run stuffer. Payne flashed his athleticism at the combine by running a 4.95 40 time, and ripping off 27 reps on the bench.
Possessing a strong blend of athleticism and strength, Allen is the perfect fit as a nose tackle on any 3-4 defense. He will swallow up inside rushers and blocks on any play. Most surprisingly, however, is his ability to rush the passer.
Unlike most meaty nose tackles, Payne has the motor to get after the quarterback and make centers pay. Coming from the NFL pipeline that is Alabama, Payne also is incredibly technically sound.
However, there were instances in which Payne was effortlessly manhandled by top-tier interior lineman. Most notably Frank Ragnow.
In the NFL Payne will likely struggle against stronger and more technically sounds guards and centers in his first few years.
In terms of defensive depth for the Redskins, Payne plugs nicely into the lineup. While he has the ability to play as a 3-4 end, his role will be at nose. With former Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen alongside him, their defensive line core is strong.
Do not forget about the quietly productive Ryan Kerrigan, who is now opened up to wreaking more havoc as a pass rusher.
A productive year from Payne could be forthcoming with all of the pieces around him. Similar to Vita Vea, his impact will not be statistically based. Despite wrapping up 53 tackles in 2017, in a 3-4 he will be asked to occupy blocks.
An ideal rookie year would be over 30 tackles and give or take 0.5-2.0 sacks. Ultimately, Washington fans should be content with larger production from his linemates. There isn’t much Washington fans can ask for from your space-eating rookie defensive tackle.