This series asks more detailed questions about the newest Redskins. This year I had the pleasure of once again asking the writers at Card Chronicle about a Redskins draft pick. Jeremy Keown gave us some great information regarding new Redskin OT Geron Christian.
Cadillactica: Christian was favorably ranked by NFL.com analyst Lance Zeirlein during the draft season. How do you think his grade holds up in a tackle class what was considered ‘weak’ overall by most draft experts? Are the Redskins going to get what they expect for the draft capital spent?
Jeremy Keown: I was a little surprised to see this high of a ranking to be honest with you. Now, to be fair, it doesn’t mean I think he is a bad offensive lineman, I just think he benefited from a draft class that didn’t have too many dominant tackles out of Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey and UCLA’s Kolton Miller. I’m not sure what Washington was expecting to get out of Geron by picking him in the third round, but, they should be getting someone who is going to be a solid-to-good offensive lineman. Is he going to come in and compete for a spot right away? I don’t believe so (granted, I don’t know the depth Washington has on the offensive line), but I think he can come in and contribute as a role player/back-up right away.
Cadillactica: I think I can speak for most Redskins fans when I say there was a sense of initial shock when we heard Geron Christian’s name in the 3rd round. The Redskins have an All-Pro LT in Trent Williams who still has a few good years left and they have a very good RT in Morgan Moses. Our own SVP of Player Personel Doug Williams said no tackles would be taken until day 3 in a pre-draft presser. It’s no secret the Redskins have needed quality tackle depth behind their starters for a long time and Christian may have been too good of a player to pass up on at that point. What do you think his ceiling is? Quality backup and swing tackle? Or could he possibly be a future quality starter at LT or RT?
Jeremy Keown: It’s good that Geron is coming into a situation where he doesn’t have to start right away in the NFL. I think him coming into a situation where he can sit, learn, and just provide overall depth is ideal for him. I envisioned him as a round 4 or 5 type of guy, but if the Washington franchise was worried about depth at tackle and didn’t want to risk passing up Christian and risk losing him, I think overall it should turn out as a good move (I’m a Colts fan, so you’ll never hear me say a team should pass up on adding quality depth to the offensive line). I think his ceiling in the NFL could eventually be a starter, especially at LT if he gets to train for a few years and learn from Trent Williams. At the minimum, I think his floor will be a quality back-up who can plug and play at both tackle positions (he started both right and left tackle at Louisville).
Cadillactica: As I mentioned already not many fans were expecting a tackle can you tell us a little more about Christian as a player? What was his experience as a tackle at Louisville blocking for Lamar Jackson? His accomplishments/awards (if any)? Does he have position versatility? How is his mentality in the game? Does he play with a mean streak? What do you view as his strengths and weaknesses?
Jeremy Keown: I liked Geron Christian a lot from when he came into the program. He was a three-year starter at Louisville, which says a lot because Petrino does run a complex offensive scheme that requires a lot of intelligence on the line. As a true freshman, he started every game at left tackle for the Cardinals and earned honorable mention All-ACC recognition. He does have position flexibility as he played both tackle positions (and I want to say he played a little bit as a guard, but can’t remember for sure), but primarily played at LT. As a sophomore, he earned third-team All-ACC honors and honorable mention All-ACC as a junior in his final year for the Cards. Mentally, he shouldn’t have any issues. Louisville’s offensive line was pretty rough the last few years as far as discipline goes, but Christian never really had too much of an issue with false starts or other penalties. He doesn’t really overpower people, so he doesn’t just charge down the field and bulldoze defenders the way that Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson does, so he’s going to need to work in the weight room to gain some power and nastiness to his game.
Some of his strengths would his versatility to play both tackle positions. He did play basketball in high school, so he does have athleticism and good footwork. He does have long arms, which will help him as a tackle. I’m not sure how exactly to phrase it, but he does have smoothness in his pass-protection to sort of slide and glide with the defender and be able to move his hips, which is where the footwork from playing basketball comes in and shows.
Some of the weaknesses would be his overall power, as I mentioned earlier. While he does have length, he doesn’t always use his arms to keep defenders away. When he does get beat by a defender, he doesn’t exactly have the best recovery to get back and block.
Cadillactica: Christian will have the chance to learn from top players at his position and be coached by one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL. He will also be going up against some tough defensive front seven’s in the division if/when he sees the field. What do you think his biggest challenge will be adjusting to the NFL?
Jeremy Keown: I would definitely say his overall strength as a lineman. While he does have good athleticism and footwork, I think adjusting to the speed of the NFL will be a small bump along the road as a rookie (which I know is a gimmick that you can give to just about every rookie in the NFL), but he’ll definitely need to work on getting in his position to block a lot quicker now that he’ll be going up against some really dominant front sevens.
Cadillactica: The Redskins run a power running scheme. Christian will need to have good movement, strength, and power to move his opponents. He will need balance and footwork to be successful as a pass protector - considering questions already asked how long do you think it will take him to be ready to see NFL action and hold his own?
Jeremy Keown: Really, it depends on how long it takes him to train to gain more strength. As noted above, one of his weaknesses is that he doesn’t have tremendous power/not a mauler. He is athletic and does have decent footwork, but he’ll still need to work on his balance in order to exert his dominance and be able to slide and move around while in pass protection. I’m not as worried about his pass protection given his length and footwork. Once he taps into his potential, he should be able to hold his own protecting the quarterback. It just all comes back to building his upper body strength.
Cadillactica: Offensive line is classically a position group that most heavily relies on chemistry, camaraderie, and teamwork. Can you tell us what type of leadership Christian may bring to the team and what kind of teammate he is?
Jeremy Keown: Starting for three years ever since getting on campus as a freshman, Geron became the leader of an offensive line that was always influx with guys coming in and out of the rotation. Before his junior year, Geron talked about how he learned from his older brother (Gerald Christian was a senior tight end and one of the leaders of the offense Geron’s freshman year) and how now that he had two years of experience starting under his belt, and becoming one of the older guys, how he knew it was upon him to lead by example for the younger guys. He was never really an out-spoken in your face kind of guy, but more of a leader by example.
As far as a teammate goes, that shouldn’t be a concern for Washington fans. He never got in trouble off the field that resulted in him having to miss time or causing problems for any of his teammates. Like I said earlier, the offensive line has been a weakness for the team and guys were moving in and out of the rotation. However, there were never any indications that there was a rift within the offense because Lamar took a lot of hits and almost always had defenders in his face.
Cadillactica: If you had to pick one word or short phrase to describe Christian what would it be?
Jeremy Keown: Versatile. While he primarily played on the left side of the line, he has played both tackle spots and maybe a spot-start or two at guard. While I think his future in the NFL is at tackle, if Washington needed an emergency start at guard, Christian would be able to step in and contribute.