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Redskins draft board: Offensive line

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Redskins draft board: Offensive line

With the busy portion of the free agency period completed, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2015 NFL draft and, specifically, needs the Redskins still have. Over the past few weeks, we’ve ranked those needs in order from least to most important. We’ve also examine prospects that could be a fit. The 10-part series will conclude Thursday with edge rusher. 

No. 2

Offensive line

Current depth chart: Tackles—Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Tom Compton and Xavier Nixon; Guards—Shawn Lauvao, Chris Chester, Spencer Long and Josh LeRibeus; Center—Kory Lichtensteiger.  

Comment: Although Scot McCloughan has been elusive on a lot of issues this offseason, he hasn’t been shy when asked about the type of player he prefers along the offensive line.

The bigger, the better.

The Redskins actually began adding size up front last offseason—prior to McCloughan’s arrival—as Coach Jay Gruden began incorporating more power runs. The Redskins signed Lauvao (6-3, 315 pounds) to play left guard and shifted Lichtensteiger, undersized at 6-2, 296 pounds, to center. The team also drafted Moses (6-6, 318) and Long (6-5, 311) in the third round.

Now it seems McCloughan intends to continue the renovation up front.

Although McCloughan did not sign any O-linemen during free agency, a couple of recent moves confirmed his plans. He claimed Nixon (6-6, 330) off waivers from the Colts and brought center Stefen Wisniewksi (6-3, 315) in for a visit. The only lineman heavier than Nixon is Williams, the three-time Pro Bowler and unit captain. Wisniewski, on the other hand, is an inch taller and 19 pounds heavier than Lichtensteiger. (Wisniewski, however, ended up signing a one-year deal with the Jaguars.)

“You want your tackles to be your bigger guys—taller and longer,” McCloughan said during his pre-draft news conference Monday at Redskins Park. “With our guards and with Coach [Bill] Callahan, our plans is power. You know, in-line power. We’re talking 320-plus [pounds] hopefully, coming off, head-butting and going. We want to be able to run the football, it’s very important. It sets up everything else for us.”

McCloughan added: “I think it’s a big man’s game, and I think size and strength and, like I said, passion and toughness are very important up front. If you can control the line of scrimmage on either side, it’s a pretty good start.”

Williams is arguably the Redskins’ best player on offense. Lauvao also figures to be a lock to start in 2015. Lichtensteiger is tough, consistent and possesses a high football I.Q. But Callahan’s arrival, his size and Wisniewski’s recent visit do make you wonder a bit.

The right side of the line, meantime, has question marks. Can Chester, 32, hold off Long for a second straight season? If he does, what does that say about Long? And what about Moses? He’s coming off a significant foot injury and showed as a rookie that he’s still got a ways to go. 

Those questions, the line’s underwhelming performance on a whole in 2014 and McCloughan’s stated preference for bigger players could mean he’ll look to put his stamp on the unit later this week in the draft.

Three potential draft targets:

  • Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Listed at 6-5, 319-pounds, the Outland Trophy winner and consensus top O-line prospect has good size and exceptional strength. Could be better suited to playing guard. Many mock drafts have him going in the 9-10 range. Would the Redskins consider him at No. 5?

  • Andrus Peat, Stanford

Another early-to-mid first round talent, Peat is listed at 6-7, 313 pounds. “Big and powerful with a right tackle’s strength and demeanor, but enough quickness to protect on the left side,” NFL.com says. Could be an option for the Redskins, particularly if they trade back in the first round. Rich Tandler has more on Peat here.

  • Ereck Flowers, Miami

One of the biggest O-line prospects, Flowers checks in at 6-6, 329-pounds. Another tackle who could end up as a guard, according to NFL.com. Because Flowers figures to be available late in the first round, he’s another player that could end up on the Redskins’ radar if the team choose to trade back. For Tandler's take on Flowers, click here.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on RealRedskins.com and NBCSportsWashington.com.

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

In case you missed it

  

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page

Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS

and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS