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.
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.