Redskins: Paea to provide push
When the Washington Redskins had Barry Cofield at his best in 2012 and 2013 they had one of the better pass rushing nose tackles in the league providing push and penetration from the middle of the line. Time caught up to Cofield this year and though Chris Baker did a solid job in his stead, Jason Hatcher was left fighting a lone battle as a pass rusher from the defensive line.
The Redskins have moved to address that quickly in free agency with the addition of Stephen Paea who had a terrific 2014 season, ending the year as our fourth-highest ranked defensive tackle in terms of pass rushing grade. His work as a run defender did not match that production, but in the Cofield model, Paea would provide disruptive push and penetration that Washington would hope for the rest of their defense to feed off of. His 47 total pressures were topped by only Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Williams among defensive tackles, with his 11 hits also tied for third best in the league among defensive tackles.
The risky side of Washington’s investment in Paea is that he is somewhat of a one-season wonder, exploding in terms of productivity in his contract year. Prior to this season Paea had never earned a positive overall grade for a single season and had only shown flashes in isolated performances as both a pass rusher and a run defender in 2012 and 2013, only really stringing some performances together to end his second season (+3.7 over the final five games of 2012). However, that penetrating ability that he showed this season is hard to pass up, and if the Redskins can get Paea to re-produce that kind of form on a consistent basis moving forward, they will be well happy with their investment.