D.J. Swearinger let it be known: The Washington Redskins need to improve their defensive line in the draft. That was the safety's proclamation in a series of mostly-deleted tweets this weekend.
We Had The 9th Ranked Pass Defense! But We Def Need More Consistency In The Secondary. One thing Ive learn In This League! The Young Players Tend To Take A While To Understand Consistency! But Young 29 Cought On Early. Yo Time To Grow Youngin Lil Brudda @MontaeNicholson— DJ Swearinger (@JungleBoi_Swagg) April 8, 2018
In another tweet, since deleted, Swearinger said, "Soo Like I've Been Saying We Had The 32rd Ranked Run Defense Last Year! (Embarrassing) Why Would We Get A Db With That 1st Pick --?!?! He cant Put His Hand In The Dirt! It's Only Logic To Get Help Where You Hurt Right Or Wrong?!?!? #FACTS"
Another since-deleted tweet read: "Idc Who In The Back!! If That Front Ain In Gangsta Yo BackEnd Wont Be Able To Show It's Full Potential! But When That D'Line Humming!! jag, seahawks, rams, Texans, Chargers! I bet It Go Hand And Hand!"
✊🏾✊🏾If They Eat We Eat!! https://t.co/btNrMLJkHW— DJ Swearinger (@JungleBoi_Swagg) April 8, 2018
It's not the first time Swearinger has said his piece. After losing to the Los Angeles Chargers, Swearinger was upset with how some members of the defense weren't prepared (this wasn't on the coaches; if others know what they're doing and some don't, it's on the player). He's never been afraid to share his opinions and also would speak weekly to the team at the start of the first practice.
After the Redskins traded corner Kendall Fuller as part of the package to get quarterback Alex Smith, Swearinger was upset and let his feelings be known. He later changed his stance, welcoming Smith. But he happened to like Fuller and felt he was good and initially knocked the move.
At the NFL owners' meetings last month, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Swearinger's penchant for expressing his opinions: "He's a very passionate guy. Sometimes he'll say something that gets turned around in the media. His intentions are good. We just want to make sure he never pits himself against the team. We want to talk about it being constructive and positive. He doesn't have to agree with everything I do, but overall it has to be about us and something positive. ... I haven't really been bothered by any of it."
This time might have been a little different. After all, Swearinger deleted the tweets about what the team should do and sent out other tweets.
BigPhil @PhilTaylor98 Happy To Have You Back Homie!! They Dont Know What You Got In The Tank! 🦍 We Bout To Show Em! Young @jonallen95 I Know You Ready To Pick Up Where You Left Off #DAWG Big Matt!! @MattIoannidis Remember What I Told You! @Tspoon90 KEEP Rockin! #BOSSHOGS #Httr— DJ Swearinger (@JungleBoi_Swagg) April 8, 2018
It's A Great Day!! Be Thankful Rejoice And Be Glad In It!! Ima Let Yall Have The Football 'Talk' Of Course Im No Or Coach! Ima Just Get War Ready Like Always And Whoever We Draft Ima Love Em Like A Brother And Make Them Better With The #Grind #2spoonzSwagggu🥄🥄 #HTTRGANG— DJ Swearinger (@JungleBoi_Swagg) April 8, 2018
The Redskins do want to add another player to the line, possibly free agent Johnathan Hankins (if his price tag lowers) or by drafting someone in the top couple rounds.
Thus far, the Redskins haven't done much to improve their defensive line. They re-signed nose tackle Phil Taylor, but he missed last season with a torn quad and hasn't played since 2014. They believe he can help if he stays healthy. If. But they also know more work remains up front, having discussed it several times this offseason. Washington did rank last in rushing yards per game and was 29th in yards per carry allowed. It takes more than just the line to stop the run, but it's clear they want more options up front.
The question is, will they address it with the 13th overall pick? Washington's Vita Vea is a possibility; he could play every line spot -- as he did in college. He could help in the Redskins' base front as well as in their nickel package. They shouldn't draft any linemen at 13 who also can't help pressure the passer by, at the least, collapsing the pocket.
There's solid interior defensive line depth in this draft class and the Redskins have shown interest in Virginia Tech's Tim Settle, among others. He'd be a candidate in the second round (44 might be too high for him) or if they add a pick in the third.
A number of times last season players privately talked about needing a big body up front -- linebackers would say this and there were even some linemen who felt this way.
The Redskins do like other defensive players quite a bit, notably safety Derwin James and safety/corner Minkah Fitzpatrick. Both could help immediately, whether starting or in some sort of role featuring their versatility. Of course, eventually they could replace Swearinger at strong safety.
They could opt for a linebacker such as Roquan Smith. Even though the Redskins have two starters -- Mason Foster and Zach Brown -- neither has a contract that suggests long-term answer. So, if the Redskins wanted, they could move on from one or both in 2019; or they could keep them at reasonable prices.
Either way, Swearinger will be watching.