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The 5 O'Clock Club: Pre-season position battles - Left Guard edition

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

It’s uncertain who the starting left guard will be on opening day against the Eagles.

The backup guard positions on the team are equally uncertain.

While Jay Gruden has repeatedly emphasized that a player’s performance in Training Camp is hugely important, the pre-season games are part of the evaluation, and they comprise the part that is most visible to the fans.

When the Redskins take on the Ravens this Thursday, the attention of many will be focused on the only spot in the offensive line that seems unsettled — left guard.

Who are the key players in competition for the spot?

Shawn Lauvao

Selected in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft by the Cleveland Browns, Lauvao signed a 4-year, $17m contract with the Redskins in 2014. He has been hobbled by ankle injuries since week 3 of the 2015 season, and has had several surgeries. Currently 29, Lauvao is not old for a lineman, but many fans feel that injuries have taken their toll, and it’s time to move on from the veteran guard. The Redskins can save $4million in cap space by cutting Lauvao (with $1m dead cap hit). Will that be enough to push the front office into a ‘youth movement’ at this position?

Arie Kouandjio

Picked in the 4th round of the 2015 draft by Washington, there was a lot of excitement about AK’s future during his rookie season. At 6’ 5” and 315 pounds, he’s got the size to be a mauler, and some hope that he’s the missing link needed to take the Redskins offensive line to the next level. Analysis by those who’ve watched Arie on film has been lukewarm, and a recent poll of HH readers graded the draft pick as a “C”, but this will be his third season with respected coach, Bill Callahan, who has a history of putting his best units on the field in his third season. There seems to be a distinct lack of ‘buzz’ about Kouandjio from journalists and other observers at Redskins training camp. Is Arie a career backup, or can he push Shawn Lauvao to the bench (or possibly off the team)?

Chase Roullier

Roullier was taken in the 6th round of this year’s draft by the Redskins, and immediately caused a buzz among fans. He’s 6’ 4” and 312 pounds, played at Wyoming, and his ability to play both Center and Guard gives him a huge advantage in making the roster this season, as the Redskins have no true center to backup Spencer Long. Roullier has a degree in mechanical engineering, which has led some to speculate that he’ll be smart enough to dissect NFL defenses. While athletic ability alone might not be enough to keep Roullier on the roster, his ability to play multiple positions might.

Tyler Catalina

Listed on the Redskins.com website at 6’ 6” and 325 pounds.

For three years, Tyler Catalina held down the left side for the University of Rhode Island. For his final season of college football, he knew he wanted to take it to the next level. Fortunately the University of Georgia provided just that opportunity.

Catalina started every game at left tackle last season for the Bulldogs, a tremendous leap from the Colonial Athletic Association, part of FCS football (formerly known as Division I AA) to the SEC. As Catalina himself says, it was a tremendous experience to play across from multiple first-round picks week after week, a transfer student thrown into a new line, a new scheme, a new coaching staff and playbook. It speaks volumes about Catalina’s skill set that he could immediately join the Bulldogs and start at the most important position on the line.

Kyle Kalis

Listed on the Redskins.com website at 6’ 4” and 302 pounds.

Kyle's father, Todd, was an offensive lineman at Arizona State and in the NFL for eight seasons. The younger Kalis would like to have a long pro career, as well, but also wishes to be a WWE wrestler at some point in the future.

Good size and length and is a smart guard with above average technique. However, his leg stiffness and lack of functional athleticism will be extremely challenging to overcome.

Isaiah Williams

Williams joined the Redskins during training camp last year, and spent 2016 on the team’s practice squad. He is listed on the Redskins official depth chart (released yesterday) as backup right guard, though Redskins.com team roster identifies him as a Tackle. Perhaps he should be considered as part of the mix for the left guard position battle.

Williams, played collegiately with Akron from 2011-15, appearing in 45 games during that span. The 6-foot-3, 295 pounder appeared in 10 games on the offensive line as a senior in 2015, helping the Zips rush for more than 164 yards per contest.

During the 2014 season, Williams appeared in all 12 of Akron's games with 11 starts, three at right tackle and eight at left tackle. His first career college start came in the season opener that year.

Williams started his career playing along the defensive line, as he posted 13 tackles in 11 appearances as a freshman before transitioning over to the offensive line.

Poll

What will happen to Shawn Laovao this season?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Starting guard for the Redskins
    (216 votes)
  • 7%
    Backup guard for the Redskins
    (25 votes)
  • 22%
    Cut by the Redskins, signed by another team
    (76 votes)
  • 5%
    Cut by the Redskins, out of the league
    (17 votes)
334 votes total Vote Now