Although there has been talk from the Redskins’ coaches and the general manager about there being competition at every position, it would be a major upset if top draft pick Brandon Scherff was not the starting right tackle in Week 1.
Jay Gruden would not declare Scherff as the starter at this point although he said that starting him at right tackle was the “intent”.
“But I think with Brandon, he’s a good football player, number one,” said Gruden. “He’s a good offensive linemen. We’ll find a spot for him but obviously we start him out at right tackle, but you know Morgan Moses is going to have something to say, Tom Compton is going to have something to say about that.”
Compton started most of last year at right tackle and Moses, a third-round pick in 2014, had a start at left tackle.
Scherff is working on making a transition from left tackle, where he played at Iowa, to the right side. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
“He’s going to have to take some lumps, but the good thing about Brandon is he’s a very focused individual,” said Gruden. “He studies very hard, he takes coaching extremely well and he’s got the best coach to coach him up. But I think you see the progress from yesterday morning to yesterday afternoon to today, it’s a significant change for him already. And I think he’s going to continue to get better.”
Gruden had some observations about some of the other players who participated in the minicamp:
—He has been impressed with second-round draft pick, outside linebacker Preston Smith. He is quite a physical specimen. “His length is what draws you to him initially, and then you watch him play, and he uses that leverage to his advantage,” said Gruden. “Especially in the run game, when people are at the point of attack, he does a great job of using that leverage to his advantage and then using that length in his pass rush. He can get people off of him, and then he has good hips and he can finish plays. Preston has been impressive.”
—Smith is also making a transition, having played defensive end at Mississippi State. It appears that he is still trying to get a firm grasp on that transition. ““It’s going good. It’s a matter of getting the calls and dropping when he’s supposed to drop and rushing when he’s supposed to rush, and then playing the run and then transition his run to a pass rush,” said Gruden. “I think he’s doing a good job. I talked to him today about trying to get a little bit more suddenness to him, and he’s just saying, ‘I’m getting my bearings straight. I’m getting my plays down.’”
—Matt Jones was known as a big, bruising runner when he was drafted but Gruden has found that he has a good package of running back skills. “The thing about Matt is you think of him as a big power-type back, but really Matt has done some things out in space that have been very, very impressive – making moves on the second level, getting to the second level,” he said. “In the passing game, running some option routes on linebackers. He has done some good things. He has got natural hands, so we’ve been very impressed him.”
—This doesn’t automatically mean that Jones will take some carries away from Alfred Morris, the team’s leading rusher for the past three seasons. “We’ll see,” Gruden said when asked about the prospect of Jones getting carries at Morris’ expense. “That’s what training camp is for and the preseason games, and Alfred is a darn good halfback, so in order to take carries off of him, you’ve got to show a lot.”
—Gruden likes how receiver Jamison Crowder is taking what is being taught in the meeting rooms and translating it on the field. “The thing about him is that he has got great football IQ,” said Gruden. “If you’re a slot receiver, you need that, and you need to know how to run routes against different leverage points. He’s done some good things outside too, but in order to be a good, effective slot receiver, you’ve got to be able to field zones and man, inside technique, outside technique, bump, head up, outside, and then know how to set them at top of your break. Right now, he’s showing that he can take what we’re teaching him in the classroom and translate it effortlessly to the playing field.”