With the busy portion of the free agent signing period over, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft and, specifically, holes Redskins GM Scot McCloughan still must fill. (And, yes, there are many.) Over the next few weeks, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will examine prospects that could be a fit in Washington.
Depth chart: Kory Lichtensteiger, Josh LeRibeus and Austin Reiter.
Current situation: Center certainly ranks as a position the Redskins should address sooner rather than later.
Lichtensteiger missed most of last season with a pinched nerve in his neck and, at 31, he’s the oldest starter on offense. Could Lichtensteiger be the bridge to the next starting center? Sure. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the plan.
There are question marks behind Lichtensteiger, however.
LeRibeus started 11 games last season, but he got shuffled back to the bench for the playoff game after Lichtensteiger proved healthy enough to suit up. LeRibeus, 26, was re-signed a week into free agency, but the terms of his one-year deal make it clear that he must win a roster spot.
Reiter, meantime, was drafted in the seventh round last year but didn’t survive the final cut. He was signed to the practice squad about a month later.
Here’s the sense I get: If Lichtensteiger does get replaced in 2016, the new starting center will be a draft pick or left guard Spencer Long, who got some reps at center in practice last year. Given the depth at the position in this year’s draft, though, I’d expect GM Scot McCloughan to draft Lichtensteiger's eventual replacement.
Three prospect possibilities:
- Ryan Kelly, Alabama
Listed at 6 foot 4, 311-pounds, Kelly is an athletic center who earns praise from scouts for his grit, fight and discipline. Needs to bulk up and increase strength, but is widely considered the best prospect at his position. Could be a late first round or early second round selection.
- Nick Martin, Notre Dame
The younger brother of Dallas’ Zack Martin, Nick is listed at 6 foot 4, 299-pounds. Scouts note that he plays physical and with a mean streak but needs to polish his technique and increase his strength. Could go as early as the second round.
- Evan Boehm, Missouri
Listed at 6 foot 2, 309-pounds, Boehm is a model of toughness and reliability, having started a school record 52 straight games. Has good power and technique but doesn’t possess the height or length some teams require. Would likely be a later round option for the Redskins.