A long time ago, in a galaxy far, FAR away, the Redskins had put together an offensive line that looked as good as anyone's in the league...on paper.
Problem was, the game is not played on paper!
Let me be the first to say that I was one of the loudest voices on the O-Line Train! All aboard!!!
Fast forward three years...
The offensive line is a complete mess!
Trent Williams, our best overall player, top three offensive tackle in the league and former captain wants nothing to do with the team anymore. To make matters even worse, Bruce Allen refuses to trade him away for valuable draft capital. In his place stands 36 year old left tackle Donald Penn. Now given everything that has happened with Trent, and how Penn was brought in as a street free agent, he’s done pretty well, but no one is mistaking him for a Pro Bowler anytime soon.
Our other Pro Bowl offensive linemen, Brandon Scherff, who is coming of surgery in 2018 to repair a torn pec, looks like a shell of his former self. His penalties and quarterback pressures are up, causing fan’s opinions on him to go down. In an interview yesterday with JP Finlay, Scherff said all the right things about wanting to remain a Redskin for the remainder of his career, but his actions (he reportedly turned down a contract extension this offseason worth $13 million/year) say otherwise. We shall have to wait and see how this one plays out in the 2020 offseason.
Morgan “the Walking Penalty” Moses is pretty much who we thought he was when he fell from potential first round draft stock to the Skins in the beginning of round three of the 2014 NFL Draft. Many thought we’d stolen our future right tackle, but what ultimately made him slip in that draft is what we are seeing now in his play. Solid play from 2015-2017 led the Skins to reward him with a nice contract extension that keeps him under contract until 2022 - but is he worth it?
Roullier, a former sixth round pick out of Wyoming, is a solid center, who moves very well in space, but even he’s had some tough moments in 2019 after preforming admirably last season. In 2018, he started every game on an O-line decimated by injury and was one of the bright spots for a poor squad. This year he looks like a JAG.
The lone bright spot has been Ereck Flowers. Flowers, who was selected ninth overall by the Giants in the 2015 NFL Draft, has successfully made the switch to left guard and has thrived this season on the interior. He’s not given up a sack, has limited his penalties and has easily been the Redskins best offensive lineman through the team’s first seven games. If anyone should be considered for a contract extension, it should be him.
So what was once considered a strength of this team is now a major weakness.
How can the team fix the offensive line?
For starters, Bruce Allen and Dan Synder need to trade Trent Williams for draft picks. I was against this move in the offseason, but by not showing up, not making a public statement or showing any interest in his team, Trent has shown Redskins Nation that he wants nothing to do with this franchise any longer. There are teams out there that can use a Pro Bowl left tackle, and at age 31, Williams can still command a high asking price in a trade.
Second, the Redskins need to offer Ereck Flowers a contract extension as soon as possible! The 25 year old (yes, it’s hard to believe he’s just 25) has found a home on the interior, and says his passion and love of the game are back. No one gave him a chance when he was signed this offseason to play guard, but he’s more than surprised with his play, and so far has proved his MANY doubters wrong.
Third, the Redskins need to focus heavily on developing their young talent. In the 2019 draft the team selected Indiana guard Wes Martin in the fourth round. The 6’3” 315 pound mauler has the potential to be a solid interior linemen, but he needs some work to refine his technique, hand placement and foot quickness. Martin has battled some injuries early on this season, so his development has been a bit slower than the team would like. One round later, the Redskins selected Alabama interior linemen Ross Pierschbacher. Piers has the ability to play either center or guard and can develop into a nice rotational piece along the interior with some added strength and experience. He’s about as technically sound as they come, but a full year in the strength and conditioning program can do him some good.
Aside from the two rookies mentioned above, the Redskins have second year offensive tackle Geron Christian. The athletic big-man from Louisville who once protected Lamar Jackson, has all the physical tools to be a solid NFL player. He just needs to stay healthy after missing much of his rookie season with a knee injury, and get stronger at the point of attack.
Finally the Skins need to acquire more talent on the offensive line both through free agency and the NFL Draft (most likely at offensive tackle).
2020 Free Agent Targets:
Jack Conklin OT Titans
Cameron Fleming OT Cowboys
Germain Ifedi OT Seahawks
Andrus Peat G Saints
Evan Boehm G Dolphins
Joe Thuney G Patriots
Graham Glasgow G Lions
2020 NFL Draft Prospects:
Andrew Thomas OT Georgia 6’5” 320 - Round 1
Tristan Wirfs OT Iowa 6’5” 315 - Round 1
Tyler Biadasz C/G Wisconsin 6’3” 307 - Round 1
Alex Leatherwood OT Alabama 6’6” 310 - Round 1-2
Alaric Jackson OT Iowa 6’7” 320 - Round 1-2
Jedrick Wills OT Alabama 6’5” 316 - Round 1-2
Trey Adams OT Washington 6’7” 315 - Round 1-2
Lucas Niang OT TCU 6’6” 335 - Round 2
Prince Tega Wanogho OT Auburn 6’7” 307 - Round 2
Below is a hypothetical scenario based on us trading disgruntled tackle Trent Williams before the trade deadline, and an offseason plan that focuses heavily on the offensive line.
Browns receive: Trent Williams
Redskins receive: Browns 2020 first round pick, and 2020 third round pick
2020 Free Agent offensive linemen:
- Redskins place the franchise tag on Brandon Scherff
- Redskins re-sign guard Ereck Flowers to 3 year, $20 million dollar contract
- Redskins sign Jack Conklin to a 3 year, $28 million dollar contract
2020 NFL Draft:
Round 1(pick 4): Andrew Thomas OT Georgia
Round 1(pick 15 from Browns): Henry Ruggs III WR Alabama
Round 3: Jaylon Johnson CB Utah
Round 3(from Browns): Jake Hanson C Oregon
*Morgan Moses has a 2020 cap hit of $8.65 million with just $3.8 million in dead money. If Jack Conklin is signed as a free agent, Moses could be traded or released.