Tillers Dollars and Cents; No Linemen at #4?

Some very positive comments were made by Kyle Shanahan about our offensive line at the end of this weekends three day mini-camp that must have left even the most diehard Redskins fan scratching their heads. 

"I'm real excited about our offensive line," noting that he was pleased with its collective performance during the team's three-day camp.


The younger Shanahan went on to say:

"I don't see it on tape and I don't see it out on the field. I think we got some real good players," he said. "I think we got some big guys who aren't just big guys who stand still. We got some big guys who can move. We've just got to get them in shape and get them used to running the zone scheme and running and cutting."

So you may be thinking this is what a coordinator is supposed to say, right?  Well in the case of the elder Shanahan, these words might not carry as much weight, as he is know to be more of a straight shooter, with both the media, and his players, but much is still to be known about the younger Shanny.  Is he actually seeing something that we all as fans may have missed during the season?  Could it be true that maybe, just maybe, the poor descision making stills of Campbell, combined with the fact that our top rusher was injured, made this unit look much worse that it really is?


I for one am not buying this.  But, I am getting a little scared that the Redskins, may not after all, go the route of offense tackle at the 4th pick in thursday nights draft.  Here are two reasons why I believe this may be so:


1.) I have a feeking that the Detroit Lions may be set to take Russell Okung at #2 overall.  Here's why I believe this could be true:

     a.) Jeff Backus is not a true left tackle.  His best position is at guard, and by selecting Okung, it gives the Lions the option of moving Backus to left guard, and immediatly inserting Okung to protect Matthew Stafford's blind side.  Okung, paired with Gosdar Cherilus(the 2008 first round draft choice), gives the Lions a pair of solid young tackles to build around for the future.

     b.)  The lions invested a lot of money into Matt Stafford as the top pick in the NFL Draft last year.  They truely need to protect that investment.  They have also hinted at the possibility of taking a running back with their early second round pick, so it makes sense to have a soild line to both pass protect, and run block for the young quarterback and rookie running back.

     c.)  The Lions had the NFL's worst defense in 2009.  Their defensive line was unable to get any pressure on the quarterback, and this is not good when you play in a division with Bret Farve and Aaron Rodgers.  So what did the lions do in the offseason?  They went out and signed former Titan's deffensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Browns deffensive tackle Corey Williams to help sure up their deffensive line.  These two players provide an immediate upgrade to the front four, and should generate more pressure up front.  The weak link on the defense is now in the secondary, where the Lions may need some help at corner.  Parish Cox may be a target in the third.


2.)  Now that the Redskins have obtained Donavan McNabb, it appears the future is now in DC.  The Redskins feel they have a good interior offensive line with Rabach, Dockery and Williams or Reinhardt at center and guards respectively, but there are still glaring holes at both tackle spots.  With the win now mentality that Allen and Shanahan seem to be shooting for, I feel that both of the head cheeses may want to bring in more experienced linemen to protect the edges.  It was evident that the staff was after both Chad Clifton and Tony Pashos in free agency, but were unwilling to part with big time contracts for these aging vets.  They did successfully sign Artis Hicks to a free agent contract, and although he may be better suited to play guard, he may be our 2010 right tackle.  That leaves the left tackle spot still unfilled.  Reports over the weekend had Heyer playing left tackle opposite Hicks, but we should all realize(as should the coaching staff), that Heyer is not an elite left tackle.  He's probably not even an average left tackle.  His body type and skills are better suited for the right side, and even there, he may be better suited as a backup.  One name that has been connected to the Redskins as of late is Dallas cast-away Flozell Adams.  The 6-7 338lb soon to be 35 year old Adams was a mainstay at left tackle for the cowboys for the better part of a decade.  Eventhough he has lost some skill due to age, he can still play.  The staff may feel their best chance of winning now, may be with the more experienced line, and Adams could be a target as the draft nears.


Now I do not think this philosophy would make much cents, as seeing that a short-term goal is all but compromising our long-term plan, but maybe the staff views this differently.  We know this is one of the deepest drafts in recent history, especially amongst offensive linemen.  There are talented left tackle prospects avaliable later in the draft that could become future starters.  I'm just not in favor of passing on a true need early(even if it is Trent Williams that we draft), to play russian roulette with some late round developmental prospect.


On the other hand, what would make cents, is to pick up some more draft picks.  If Okung is gone before we pick, Eric Berry could be the bait that can land us some more fish.  As it sits right now, the Cheifs, Browns or Seahawks could all be looking at Berry.  The Philadelphia Eagles, who currently hold 11 picks in the 2010 NFL Draft, are said to be ennamoured with Berry.  They certainly have the ammo to pull off a trade, and move into the #4 spot to select him.  It may cost them one of their second round picks, and a 3rd or 4th to do so, but look at it this way, they received a second from the Redskins for McNabb, so trading that second back to us, swaping first's, and throwing in a 3rd or 4th  for Berry wouldn't be too bad.  Berry gives the Eagles what they have been lacking since Dawkins left for greener pastures, and the Redskins now have a QB, and some picks to go along with him this year. 


Since the Eagles pick 24th in this years draft, and being that the Redskins could have already gotten a left tackle for the 2010 season, the pressure of this pick is off.  We can now select the best avaliable, and not have to feel that this player will have to be an immediate contributor.  A guy like Charles Brown may be there for the taking.  Maybe a Ryan Matthews in the first and Roger Saffold in the second.  Could be a guy like Anthony Davis falls to us at 24.  Maybe CJ Spiller drops a little further than some expect, as could be there for the taking.


Either way this unfolds, it should turn out to be interesting at the very least.  I am in the draft Okung corner here, but my fears that he may not be avaliable at #4, coupled with the staff's recent comments on the current state of our offensive line, scare me.  I hope I'm wrong, but I have a feeling that Okung may not be a Redskin come thursday night.

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