Redskins

Redskins

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Offensive tackle

Training camp opens in about three weeks and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming couple of weeks, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Offensive tackles

Additions: Geron Christian (Drafted 3rd round)
Departures: None

Starters: Trent Williams, Morgan Moses
Other roster locks: Christian, Ty Nsekhe
On the bubble: T.J. Clemmings

How the tackles compare

To the rest of the NFL: Williams is one of the best at his position in the NFL and Moses is one of the top 10 right tackles in the league, maybe top five. Many teams would love to have Nsekhe as their swing tackle. Christian has starter potential although we are a long way from seeing how that plays out. It’s certainly one of the best OT depth charts in the league; like Moses, top 10 for sure, maybe top five. 

To the 2017 Redskins: Since it is reasonable to expect that the Redskins will have better health at the tackle position this year, the group should be better. Things are bad when the backups, Nsekhe and Clemmings, both go out with injuries. The former missed five games with a core muscle injury, while the latter was put on injured reserve with a shoulder injury in Week 11. Combine that with Trent Williams’ knee injury that cost him six games and hampered him in others and you have a unit that has no place to go but up.   

 

2018 outlook

Biggest upside: Moses is still learning after three years as a starter under his belt. His biggest potential stems from staying healthy. He has gutted it out with injuries to both ankles the last two seasons. This year he had surgical repairs and that should help. At age 27, he should be entering his prime seasons. 

Most to prove: It may sound odd to say that Williams, who has been to six straight Pro Bowls, has something to prove. But despite being one of the best at his position, he has yet to get the nod as a first-team All-Pro. Missed time is one of the main things that worked against him. It looked like he was on his way to contending for the honors in each of the last two years, but in 2017 he missed six games with the knee injury and the year before he was suspended for four games. A few good 16-game seasons starting this year, his age 30 season, might let him put the elusive All-Pro designation on his resume. And that might lead to eventual consideration for the Hall of Fame. 

Rookie watch:  At 302 pounds, Christian probably needs to add about 15 pounds to his frame to be an effective tackle. At 6-5, the Louisville product has the length needed to be successful. He got plenty of time at left tackle during OTAs with Williams and Nsekhe both sidelined. Again, we will have to see if he can fulfill his potential, but he has a lot of it.

Bottom line: The tackles should be an asset this year, helping to protect Alex Smith and giving Derrius Guice some running room. Obviously, health is important. Nsekhe is a good backup but don’t be fooled into thinking there isn’t a significant drop off when he’s in the game. Last year, Nsekhe played half the number of snaps as Williams, but he allowed five sacks to none for Williams. 

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Geron Christian playing with the starters during OTAs:

It’s not easy for a young guy like that to come in here and play tackle for us with the ones from the get-go. Coach Manusky does a good job of throwing a lot of different fronts and looks at them. He’s learning on the fly . . . Every play is something to learn from – running play, pass play, pass protection – and I think he’s going to become better faster because of that because of these opportunities.

2018 position outlook series

 

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