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Redskins draft board: Offensive line


Redskins draft board: Offensive line

With the busy portion of the free agency period completed, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2015 NFL draft and, specifically, needs the Redskins still have. Over the past few weeks, we’ve ranked those needs in order from least to most important. We’ve also examine prospects that could be a fit. The 10-part series will conclude Thursday with edge rusher. 

No. 2

Offensive line

Current depth chart: Tackles—Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Tom Compton and Xavier Nixon; Guards—Shawn Lauvao, Chris Chester, Spencer Long and Josh LeRibeus; Center—Kory Lichtensteiger.  

Comment: Although Scot McCloughan has been elusive on a lot of issues this offseason, he hasn’t been shy when asked about the type of player he prefers along the offensive line.

The bigger, the better.

The Redskins actually began adding size up front last offseason—prior to McCloughan’s arrival—as Coach Jay Gruden began incorporating more power runs. The Redskins signed Lauvao (6-3, 315 pounds) to play left guard and shifted Lichtensteiger, undersized at 6-2, 296 pounds, to center. The team also drafted Moses (6-6, 318) and Long (6-5, 311) in the third round.

Now it seems McCloughan intends to continue the renovation up front.

Although McCloughan did not sign any O-linemen during free agency, a couple of recent moves confirmed his plans. He claimed Nixon (6-6, 330) off waivers from the Colts and brought center Stefen Wisniewksi (6-3, 315) in for a visit. The only lineman heavier than Nixon is Williams, the three-time Pro Bowler and unit captain. Wisniewski, on the other hand, is an inch taller and 19 pounds heavier than Lichtensteiger. (Wisniewski, however, ended up signing a one-year deal with the Jaguars.)

“You want your tackles to be your bigger guys—taller and longer,” McCloughan said during his pre-draft news conference Monday at Redskins Park. “With our guards and with Coach [Bill] Callahan, our plans is power. You know, in-line power. We’re talking 320-plus [pounds] hopefully, coming off, head-butting and going. We want to be able to run the football, it’s very important. It sets up everything else for us.”

McCloughan added: “I think it’s a big man’s game, and I think size and strength and, like I said, passion and toughness are very important up front. If you can control the line of scrimmage on either side, it’s a pretty good start.”

Williams is arguably the Redskins’ best player on offense. Lauvao also figures to be a lock to start in 2015. Lichtensteiger is tough, consistent and possesses a high football I.Q. But Callahan’s arrival, his size and Wisniewski’s recent visit do make you wonder a bit.

The right side of the line, meantime, has question marks. Can Chester, 32, hold off Long for a second straight season? If he does, what does that say about Long? And what about Moses? He’s coming off a significant foot injury and showed as a rookie that he’s still got a ways to go. 

Those questions, the line’s underwhelming performance on a whole in 2014 and McCloughan’s stated preference for bigger players could mean he’ll look to put his stamp on the unit later this week in the draft.

Three potential draft targets:

  • Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Listed at 6-5, 319-pounds, the Outland Trophy winner and consensus top O-line prospect has good size and exceptional strength. Could be better suited to playing guard. Many mock drafts have him going in the 9-10 range. Would the Redskins consider him at No. 5?

  • Andrus Peat, Stanford

Another early-to-mid first round talent, Peat is listed at 6-7, 313 pounds. “Big and powerful with a right tackle’s strength and demeanor, but enough quickness to protect on the left side,” says. Could be an option for the Redskins, particularly if they trade back in the first round. Rich Tandler has more on Peat here.

  • Ereck Flowers, Miami

One of the biggest O-line prospects, Flowers checks in at 6-6, 329-pounds. Another tackle who could end up as a guard, according to Because Flowers figures to be available late in the first round, he’s another player that could end up on the Redskins’ radar if the team choose to trade back. For Tandler's take on Flowers, click here.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

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

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Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Moses, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

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