New Redskins GM Scot McCloughan aimed to improve nearly every position through the draft or via free agency. How has he done? Over the next couple of weeks, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine and rate each group on the team. The ratings will be based on the quality of the players as compared to the rest of the league and, in particular, the division.
We’ll use a scale of 1 to 10. To receive a 10, a position group would need Pro-Bowl caliber starters and solid backups. A rating of 1 means the starters are aging and ineffective and there are no promising reserves in the pipeline.
We got it started yesterday with the defensive line. Up today, the offensive line.
Starters: Trent Williams (LT), Shawn Lauvao (LG), Kory Lichtensteiger (C), Spencer Long (RG) and Brandon Scherff (RT).
Reserves: Morgan Moses, Tom Compton, Josh LeRibeus, Arie Kouandjio and Austin Reiter.
El-Bashir: On the defensive line, McCloughan took a quick-fix approach, signing two of the Redskins’ three starters (Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton) and a key rotational player (Ricky Jean-Francois) in free agency. On the offensive line, though, the new general manager opted to take the long view. He kicked the tires on a few free agents (Houston RT Derek Newton was among them) but ultimately decided to rely on the draft, selecting Scherff with the No. 5 overall pick, Kouandjio in the fourth round and Reiter in the seventh. That’s fine, but it means there will be some growing pains, particularly on the right side of the line. Because, of course, Scherff and Long—the anticipated starters at tackle and guard, respectively—have exactly 18 NFL snaps between them. There are concerns elsewhere, too. For one, Williams, a three-time Pro Bowler and unit captain, is still rehabbing a left ankle injury he suffered six months ago and isn't expected to be ready until training camp. Also, there’s also not a lot of experience among the reserves. In fact, Compton is the most seasoned backup—and he has just a half-year’s worth of meaningful game reps. The addition of position coach Bill Callahan should help immensely, but it would be a stretch to believe a turnaround will happen overnight. Rating: 5.
Tandler: Sure, there has been plenty of change here. The question is, were the changes for the better. The Redskins were first in the NFL in rushing in 2012 and fifth in 2013. After some changes on the line last year they slipped to 19th. That said, this looks like a solid unit. Williams is a perennial Pro Bowl performer who should be entering his prime seasons. Lauvao will be more comfortable in a system that emphasizes power blocking. Although Lichtensteiger may not have the ideal body type for the offense he makes up for it with veteran savvy. Scherff and Long are unknowns but appear to have what they need to succeed. Beyond the starters, however, the depth is questionable. There would be genuine cause for panic if Williams missed any significant time. The backup guards are LeRibeus, who has been unable to gain a foothold in three years in the league, and a very raw prospect in Kouandjio. Rating: 4