After a busy free agency period, a draft in which 10 new players were added and the acquisition of 13 undrafted college players, the Redskins look much different than they did last December. So in the coming weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will break down the revamped roster, position-by-position, as offseason activities ramp up and depth charts come into focus.
Position: Interior offensive line
On the roster: Shawn Lauvao, Chris Chester, Spencer Long, Josh LeRibeus, Arie Kouandjio, Kory Lichtensteiger, Tyler Larsen, Austin Reiter
Likely to make the 53: Lauvao, Long, Kouandjio, Lichtensteiger
Comment: After struggling at times last year as a free-agent acquisition, the Redskins hope that Lauvao will be more effective this season with their emphasis on power blocking. He will start at left guard next to Lichtensteiger at center. At times last year Lichtensteiger was the team’s best offensive lineman. He may not be the ideal size that Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan would like in a center but replacing him is something that will be considered down the road.
Long, a third-round pick a year ago, has a shot at winning the starting job at right guard. He had a chance to do that last year but Chester was able to fend him off. Kouandjio enters the mix as a fourth-round pick this year and if he can clean up his technique in a hurry he could be in the mix to start if Long can’t grab the spot.
Battling for a job: Chester, Larsen, LeRibeus, Reiter
Comment: Chester has three strikes against him—his age (32), his salary cap number ($4.8 million), and the fact that he’s more suited to zone blocking than he is to the power scheme that Gruden and Callahan are going to emphasize. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s out. It would be unwise to underestimate the survival skills of the wily nine-year veteran. It’s probably all or nothing for Chester. If he doesn’t hang on to his job as the starter it seems unlikely that he will stay around as a backup when releasing him would save $4 million in cap space.
The organization gave a very strong signal that LeRibeus was not necessarily a part of their future plans when they paid Lauvao $17 million over four years rather than giving their 2012 third-round pick a shot at starting.
Larsen is a player to keep an eye on. It was surprising that he went undrafted last year after earning all-conference honors at Utah State and participating both in the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. He was signed by the Dolphins but he was cut at the end of camp and didn’t catch on anywhere. At 6-4, 315 he is closer to the ideal size that the organization wants on the offensive line than is Lichtensteiger. He seems to be a long shot to make the 53-man roster but if he doesn’t he’s a likely practice squad developmental project.
At 6-3, 296, Reiter is listed as a center who is just an inch taller than Lichtensteiger and the same weight. He is a smaller player from a smaller conference (South Florida of the AAC) and the last player the team picked in a draft that featured bigger players from power conferences. We will see how he fits in.