The Redskins offensive line(with the exception of Trent Williams) was a mess in 2013. Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Tyler Polumbus and Chris Chester embarrassed themselves even more than Mike Shanahan at his post game press conferences. The question is not whether this unit needs a makeover, but rather how this makeover should take place during the offseason.
One of the big questions on a lot of Redskins fans minds is how we should use the reserve linemen who already have a home on this football team. Most will agree, that Mike Shanahan had a clear vision of the identity of his football team, and what types of players he wanted to protect that vision. It can be argued that certain players amongst the offensive line were not given a chance due to Shanahan's "preferences". Others may have fallen victim to the "Shanahan doghouse", which I heard was harder to get out of than Alcatraz. Whatever the reason, fair or not, it may be in the best interest of the new staff to see what they have on the team already by means of an open competition, rather than simply dismissing players like Compton, Gettis, Hurt and LeRibeus because of evaluations from the previous coaching staff.
This is a position I'd like to see addressed in free agency. In my opinion, the draft is a bit risky when it comes to offensive linemen, especially when your first pick is in the second round. Offensive tackles are not always immediate plug-and-play options, and the ones who are tend to be chosen in the first half of the first round. Even then, there tends to be growing pains. With a franchise quarterback coming off injury, and protecting him being an absolute must, I'd rather have an experienced young veteran manning the right side of our offensive line.
Free Agent Options:
Rodger Saffold(25) - St Louis Rams
Geoff Schwartz(27) - Kansas City Chiefs
Michael Oher(27) - Baltimore Ravens
Anthony Collins(28) - Cincinnati Bengals
Marshall Newhouse(25) - Green Bay Packers
While I don't expect every player on this list to hit the open market, I think we will see at least three make it to free agency. Each player I have listed would be an immediate upgrade to Tyler Polumbus, and could provide the Redskins some stability at the position for the future.
Guard is one of the easiest and cheapest positions to replace in the NFL. Quality guards can be found throughout free agency for a very reasonable price. I also think the Redskins would be smart to look on their current roster for possible replacements.
Free Agents Options:
Jon Asamoah(25) - Kansas City Chiefs
Shawn Lauvao(26) - Cleveland Browns
Zane Beadles(27) - Denver Broncos
Vladimir Ducasse(26) - New York Jets
*All the players listed above currently have salaries below 1.5 million per year.
Current Players on our Roster:
Josh LeRibeus - LeRibeus has had problems with his weight, but if he can come into camp in shape, he could earn a starting spot at either guard or center.
Adam Gettis - Gettis is a tough, technically sound guard prospect who moves well, has good feet, sets his base, and playes through the whistle. He's best suited for a heavy zone blocking system, as he can be over-powered by larger defensive linemen in a rule blocking scheme.
Mo Hurt - Hurt has the ability to play both guard and right tackle, but I think guard is where he could make an impact on the Redskins. Hurt has good feet for a big man, and plays with good leverage. He's not the strongest in upper body strength, but he makes up for that with massive legs that can move a defender once he gets locked in.
Tom Compton - Compton is an interesting player. He was the Redskins backup swing tackle in 2013, but has the ideal size and strength to kick inside to guard as well. His best asset is his hand punch, which can stone a defender. He plays with good leverage, and his technique has improved over the last two seasons.
I feel center is a position in need of a drastic upgrade in both talent and youth. Not only would I like to have an anchor in the middle for the foreseeable future, but also someone who is competent enough to make all the line calls and protections in Gruden's complex offense.
J.D. Walton - Walton is a player the Redskins claimed off waivers when he was released late in the 2013 season by the Denver Broncos. The season before, J.D. suffered a broken ankle on a freak play, and missed a large part of the 2012 season. He was expected back for the start of 2013, but a setback in his rehab forced him to be placed on injured reserve with a designation to return. He returned healthy, but did not see any playing time, and was cut shortly after. The Redskins put in a claim, and were awarded his contract. Walton is set to become a free agent in March, and it would be a smart move to offer him a contract before he hits the open market if the staff feels he's fully recovered from his injury.
Free Agent Options:
Alex Mack(28) - Cleveland Browns
Ted Larsen(26) - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I would like to see right tackle addressed in free agency. A young, athletic option would be ideal for the future of Griffin and the offense. This would eliminate a huge learning curve, and would make the transition to a new offense as seamless as possible. I would allocate 5-6 million dollars to this position in free agency. One thing I'm sure of - I want no part of a Tyler Polumbus return.
At guard, I would like to see a combination of talent already on the team, and a free agent addition if the staff feels the need to do so. I would have no problem if the staff were to bring in a mid-tier free agent, and make it an open competition at both right and left guard. I feel we can find a quality starter between LeRibeus, Gettis, Hurt and Compton. I'd like to release Chester and Lichtensteiger, and go in a new direction.
Center is a tough position in the NFL. I feel Montgomery is a huge liability at the position, and is a candidate to be outright released. Like I mentioned above, I would love to see us try and retain Walton. If the staff feels his injury will hinder his play going forward, a run at another free agent center would be the next best option. I'm not opposed to using our third round pick on a center if the right one were available, but along with that comes a big learning curve. A final option would be to move either LeRibeus or Gettis to center.
Overall, with a solid plan to attack the offensive line issue this offseason, I believe we can turn the corner, and start laying the foundation for a bight future.