ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Taking a defensive lineman from Alabama in the first round for the second consecutive year, the Washington Redskins chose tackle Da’Ron Payne with the 13th overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.
The 6-foot-2, 311-pound Payne is considered a top-notch run-stopper, and he’ll line up next to former college teammate Jonathan Allen, Washington’s initial selection in 2017.
Payne’s most famous play for the Crimson Tide might actually have come on the other side of the ball: He caught a touchdown pass against Clemson in a College Football Playoff victory last season.
The Redskins entered the draft will all sorts of areas of need on the roster, but perhaps nothing as pressing as various places on defense and at running back. While the Redskins will be expected to try to improve an ineffective rushing offense later in the draft — only four teams ran for fewer yards last season — they opened by beginning to address the problems on “D.”
Having traded for Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs and signed him to a four-year extension, they were not among the many teams in the market for a young quarterback. So with an unprecedented four QBs taken in the top 10, some highly regarded players on the defensive side drifted down toward Washington.
And that unit could use the help, particularly when it comes to Payne’s specialty: stuffing runners.
Only four teams gave up more points per game than the 24.2 allowed by the Redskins, and none was as easy to run against: They were gashed for a league-worst average of 134.1 yards on the ground. They also were prone to ceding chunks of yardage at a time, with opponents recording 54 plays of 20 or more yards; only a half-dozen clubs let up more than that.
A year ago, Washington got Allen with the 17th overall pick. He played promisingly when he was on the field, but only appeared in five games before getting injured and missing the rest of the season.
The Redskins have seven other picks in this year’s draft, starting in the second round with No. 44 overall. They do not have a choice in the third round, because it was sent to Kansas City in the Smith deal.
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