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Redskins offseason Q&A: What will the O-line depth chart like?


Redskins offseason Q&A: What will the O-line depth chart like?

With a new general manager in charge, new faces throughout the lineup as well as new assistant coaches bringing new ideas to the table, the Redskins are a team in transition. Between now and the start of training camp, reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the top questions facing Jay Gruden and Co. as they prepare for the season.

What will the offensive line depth chart look like?

It appears that the Redskins’ offensive line starters are set. Barring injury or other unforeseen issues, Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Spencer Long, and Brandon Scherff will line up from left to right when the Redskins take on the Dolphins Week 1. But depth is important and Bill Callahan and Jay Gruden will have to cobble together a mix of draft picks, free agents, and holdovers to keep on the 53-man roster should they be needed. Who will be on that depth chart?

Tandler: The first thing that Gruden and Callahan will need to figure out is how many linemen they will keep. Teams usually keep eight or nine O-linemen on the final 53-man roster. With the team trying to develop depth for the future I think they will go with nine.

That probably means two interior reserves and two tackles. On the outside, Morgan Moses likely is a lock. They spent a third-round pick on him a year ago knowing he would be something of a project. In a surprise, I think that Willie Smith beats out Tom Compton for the other tackle job. If Williams is banged up for a game or two, certainly a possibility given his history, I think they would trust Smith more than Compton to fill in at left tackle.

Rookie Arie Kouandjio was a fourth-round pick and they will keep him around to develop. Will guard Josh LeRibeus, whose career hasn’t been able to gain any traction since he was a third-round pick in 2012, survive the cut? Or will this year’s seventh-round pick, center Austin Reiter, get the last spot?

It may depend on how well LeRibeus can play center and how well Reiter can play guard. Backup interior linemen need to be versatile so the player who best demonstrates that he can handle both positions will get the nod. I think that’s LeRibeus, with Reiter headed to the practice squad.

El-Bashir: I think the Redskins keep nine linemen, just as they did in Gruden’s first year.

And here’s how I see it shaking out: Williams, Scherff, Compton and Moses at tackle; Lauvao, Long, LeRibeus and Kouandjio are the guards; and Lichtensteiger is the center. LeRibeus got in a significant amount of work this offseason at center and will be the emergency should something happen to Lichtensteiger. Meantime, I expect Reiter to head to the practice squad for some seasoning.

I don’t anticipate much drama in training camp along the O-line. But I will be keeping an eye on Smith and Kouandjio.

Smith, who was signed in June for a second tour of duty in Washington, might be able to put some pressure on the backups in front of him. But to earn a spot on the 53, the 28-year-old would need to squeeze his way past Compton, who started at left tackle during OTAs while Williams rehabbed his ankle, and/or Moses, whom the Redskins invested a third round pick only a year ago. Smith does, however, have an edge in experience.

As for Kouandjio, I don’t see him pushing for a starting role right away. But he’s big (6-5, 310) and physical and could intrigue Gruden and Callahan if he proves to be a fast learner.  

Previously on Redskins offseason Q&A:

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 


The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.


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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201