Over the next few weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will grade each position group’s performance in 2015, break down the current personnel situation and evaluate the unit's outlook for 2016. Yesterday, we took a look at the defensive line. Today, the offensive tackles are up.
2015 starters: Trent Williams, Morgan Moses
Backups: Ty Nsekhe, Tom Compton
Free agents: Compton
Rewind: It was business as usual for Williams. He played at a high level all year and made his fourth straight Pro Bowl, although he didn’t make the trip to Hawaii due to some nagging injuries. Those injuries hampered him some during the season. Williams was on the injury report for seven games. He missed the Week 6 game against the Jets with a neck injury and he sat out the meaningless season finale against the Cowboys.
Before the season started, things were more fluid on the right side. They took Brandon Scherff with the fifth overall pick and installed him a right tackle for OTAs. But soon after training camp started Scherff was moved to right guard and Moses, a 2014 third-round pick, was plugged in at right tackle.
There was concern that Moses would struggle after he missed the entire offseason program as he rehabbed a Lisfranc injury he suffered late in the 2014 season. But he got rolling from the get-go and improved the right tackle position. Here are quarterback pressures given up by Moses in 2015 compared to those give up by Tyler Polumbus and Compton, the 2014 starters at right tackle
Moses’ performance was a surprise; the contribution of Nsekhe was a shock. The 30-year-old journeyman was thought to be camp fodder but he made the team and became the top option as a backup tackle. Nsekhe played respectably when Williams was out against the tough Jets defense, allowing no sacks, not hits and just one hurry. He also played a solid second half against the Bills after Moses left the game with an injury.
Compton played 216 snaps but most of them were as a third tackle lined up in the tight end position.
Fast forward: It should be a relatively quiet offseason at this position. Williams’ rookie contract expired after the 2015 season but in August he and the team agreed to a five-year, $66 million extension. Left tackle is now locked down through the year 2020.
Moses seems certain to return at right tackle. It’s always possible that Scot McCloughan will see a tackle he likes in the middle rounds of the draft and perhaps that player could challenge Moses. But for the time being it’s not a position they are desperate to upgrade.
In fact, it's entirely possible that the Redskins have found their long-term solution at the position. Right tackle has been in flux for about the last 10 years or so, when Jon Jansen's play started to decline.
There’s no reason not to bring back Nsekhe. He just finished his first NFL season so he will be on the books for the minimum of $600,000. Compton is a restricted free agent. The team would like to have him back if only to compete for a spot and to continue his tight end duties if the team is unable to secure a strong blocker at that position.
One player who could challenge Nsekhe and/or Compton for a roster spot is Takoby Cofield, who spent last season on the practice squad. The Redskins signed him as an undrafted free agent last year and they think he could develop into a solid player.