The Redskins have needed to improve their offensive line since the last rendition of the Hogs broke up over 20 years ago. The team has had some solid individual linemen in that time but the unit has never been up to the quality that it was during the Super Bowl glory years from 1982-1991.
How can the Redskins build a Super Bowl offensive line? To figure that out it might be good to take a look at how the offensive lines of the two teams that in the Super Bowl were built. Here’s a look at the expected starters in the Super Bowl and the starters who finished up the 2014 season for the Redskins.
Seahawks: C Max Unger (round 2/2009) missed 10 regular season games with injuries but he appears to be back in form for the playoffs. He has two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro on his resume. RG J. R. Sweezy (7/2012) was a late-round pickup who has paid off with 31 starts in the last two years. The Seahawks picked LG James Carpenter (1/2011) in the first round in 2011 but injuries have had him in and out of the lineup.
Patriots: Rookie C Bryan Stork (4/2014) missed the AFC title game with a knee injury but should be back for the Super Bowl. LG Dan Connolly (UDFA) came into the league undrafted and was picked up off the street by the Patriots in 2008. He has started 71 games for them since then. RG Ryan Wendell (UDFA) made the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2008 and has been their starting guard for the past three seasons.
Redskins: The Broncos drafted C Kory Lichtensteiger (4/2008), who sat out a season in between being cut loose by Denver and picked up by the Redskins. LG Shawn Lauvao (3/2010) was drafted by the Browns and signed by the Redskins as a free agent in 2014. The Redskins signed Ravens draft pick RG Chris Chester (2/2006) as a free agent in 2011.
Seahawks: The Redskins took a real hard look at LT Russell Okung (1/2010) in 2010 but they took Trent Williams instead. Seattle took RT Justin Britt (2/2014) with the last pick of the second round and he started all 16 games this year as a rookie.
Patriots: RT Sebastian Vollmer (2/2009) has been the designated starter most of the time he has been in New England but he has missed 20 games due to injuries in the past four years. The Patriots got the pick the used to draft LT Nate Solder (1/2011) from the Raiders in exchange for DL Richard Seymour.
Redskins: The Redskins’ decision to go with Williams over Okung has paid off so far. Okung has been a solid player but Williams just went to his third Pro Bowl (one for Okung) and his missed six games due to injuries in five seasons (Okung has missed 21). RT Tom Compton (6/2012) took over as the starter this year in midseason.
Between the two teams in the Super Bowl there are three first-round picks (including both left tackles), three second-rounders, one each from the fourth and seventh rounds, and two undrafted players. Only one, Connolly (four games with the Jaguars in 200, ever appeared in a game for another team.
The Redskins start first- and sixth-round picks of their own plus three players who were drafted by and played for other teams.
So it seems apparent that spending high draft picks on the line will help, especially at the tackle position. But the Patriots starting a fourth round pick and two undrafted players in the interior should be instructive as well. The two undrafted guards for the Patriots took their time to develop but the patience has paid off. The fact that the Patriots felt good enough about their undrafted guards that they were willing to trade six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins before the season started speaks volumes about how they develop their line.
It should be noted that the lines for the Patriots and particularly the Seahawks aren’t generally viewed as particularly strong. But they give their quarterbacks enough time to throw and create enough running room for the backs to be effective and, most importantly, they are still playing. I think the Redskins would be pretty happy with a group that could do that.