Tyler Polumbus was underwhelming to say the least in his role of starting right tackle last year. He won a training camp battle for the starting job going into last season, but in reality was the just the best of a bad bunch. Pro Football Focus ranked him 77th out of 80 graded tackles on the entire season last year with an overall grade of -24. They also had him joint 4th in the league in quarterback hurries allowed with 42. Clearly it wasn't a good season for him, so why am I calling him a potential breakout candidate?
I'd like to go back to this point last year. We had Will Montgomery and Chris Chester at center and right guard respectively. A lot of us, myself included, wanted them replaced. They were both coming off bad seasons and we felt terrible about the prospect of putting Robert Griffin III behind these guys. PFF had Montgomery at -4.6 and Chester on -13.7 for their 2011 campaigns. The Redskins went ahead and drafted Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis to help provide depth and push Montgomery and Chester to improve.
Many believed that at least one of those two rookie lineman would be starting for the Redskins at some point this past season, but only LeRibeus saw playing time after injury to Kory Lichtenstieger. Montgomery and Chester improved dramatically and along with Trent Williams, became the strength of the Redskins offensive line. How much did they improve? Looking again to Pro Football Focus, Montgomery jumped from a -4.6 grade in 2011 to a 21.8 grade in 2012, one of the best grades they had on a center this year. Chester went from -13.7 to 15.2. That's a huge turn around from one season to the next.
Now the question is, can Polumbus reciprocate such a dramatic change in performance? Well, he's entering his second year as a starter for the Redskins, just as Chester and Montgomery were going into last year. Continuity along the offensive line is something we all talk about, but criminally underrate. Playing next to Chester for a second year will undoubtedly help him improve. While the Redskins didn't draft a tackle to challenge him, they have sixth round pick from 2012 Tom Compton, who they really like, and they brought in free agents Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood to compete for Polumbus' job.
So what do you think? Will Polumbus manage to improve just like Montgomery and Chester did; or will he lose the starting job in camp?