Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Roster Review (Offense)

There's a storm of stories and parasites gorging themselves on supposed bad blood in Washington, right now. Not only do I believe it's massively overblown, but I also think it's the wrong thing to focus on. That will work itself out eventually -- hopefully in the off-season -- and I would rather discuss football matters. So, given that this season is clearly over for all but evaluation, I'm going to look at the roster, position-by-position, and discuss where the Redskins need to go. They are still, of course, missing their first round draft pick from the RG3 trade, but they have the rest of the draft, picking early in rounds, and will have 18 million dollars of (unfairly-taken) cap space returned to them this off-season, so there's plenty of room to make moves to improve the team.

I'll post installments or updates adding new positions periodically.

1/8/2014 update: I'm finishing this up and adding players who were signed after the Redskins' season ended. Depending one when entries were written, references to scheme are obviously subject to change.

1/9/2014 update: With Jay Gruden named head coach, we will need to see what he plans in terms of scheme changes, but early reports are that he is likely to promote tight ends coach Sean McVay to offensive coordinator, which I would guess could mean Chris Foerster stays in charge of the line and the blocking schemes don't change too heavily. I think that would be a good move as they are effective and the team's personnel is very much built to run them. Still, we won't know for sure for a little while how much things will change. 

1/20/2014 update: Fully updated for every player on the team or who has been with the team this season. 


1. Robert Griffin III (23 years old/6'2" tall/220 lbs.
) College at Baylor, drafted 2nd overall in 2012 [2 years, $12.5 million remaining on his contract after this season]: He's the starter, he will be the starter, and any "reporters" bleating to the contrary are just regurgitating each other's inaccurate information or trying to get attention. He's a transcendent talent and one of the best players on the team in his second year, and, honestly, has played pretty well this year. Not great, but well enough that everyone would be perfectly happy with this notch in a sophomore quarterback's development coming out of a Big 12 spread offense if it weren't following up the greatest season a rookie QB has ever had, an ORotY award, a pro bowl berth, and the attention that comes with being DC's franchise QB and savior.

Griffin has things to work on: he's one of the worst pre-snap quarterbacks in the league, his mechanics sometimes falter as he tries to let his outstanding arm strength do the job that should be done by his footwork, and his mechanics on the run this season have been much worse than last season (whether that's a result of the injury, the knee brace, or just bad habits coming out as he's often running for his life, I don't know). Griffin is inconsistent on when he tries to trust his receivers' timing coming out of breaks and throw to where they should be be and when he tries to look around and find an open player, and is sometimes punished for both by drops, bad routes, or sacks. He's not unable to read a defense, but isn't as fast or sure of it as a great pocket quarterback, and has trouble picking up on pre-snap clues to what the D will do on the play à la Peyton Manning. He also, of course, needs to learn when to give up on a play and lay down for a sack or toss the ball away instead of trying to force things. These problems are all fixable, however, and not uncommon for a young player, and being as good as he is this early is still impressive. He's smart, incredibly hard-working, and unbelievably talented: there's no reason to think he won't improve. He is in his second year, coming off a major injury, and had no off-season to develop chemistry and work on timing. This entry should be longer than anyone else on the team's will be, for obvious reasons.

2. Kirk Cousins (25/6'3/209 lbs.) Michigan State, 3rd:24 in 2012 [2 years, $1.5m]: Cousins is hard-working, smart, and has college experience that is more applicable to the NFL level than Griffin. But he has his own problems and certainly isn't the talent that Griffin is. He is more of a Matt Flynn/Matt Cassel type. If he gets really lucky, his upside may be Matt Schaub. Any Matt, really. Adequate-but-unimpressive arm strength and athleticism, he is a good backup and I could see him being a solid game manager, but I would be surprised if he's ever a franchise QB for anyone (would be happy to be wrong here though, I like the guy). He will probably be back as the Redskins second string QB next year, but it will depend on how much interest teams have in the off-season. There are a lot of interesting prospects in this draft at the position, but if a team decides they want someone a little more veteran, the Redskins will certainly listen to offers. Cousins started the final three games of the season, and while he wasn't bad per se, he likely didn't do any favors for his stock. The entire team was floundering and he simply showed he wasn't ready to come in and put the team on his back, which no one should have expected. Santana Moss even expressed his belief that Cousins was essentially being set up to fail. Overall, taking context into account, his performances were mediocre, but ended on a particularly poor zero-touchdown, two-interception flop in bad weather against the Giants.

3. Rex Grossman (33/6'1/225 lbs.) Florida, 2003 [Free agent]: Doesn't really matter. If Shanahan is still here, Grossman probably will be too. If he's fired, Grossman will be gone. He's here because the Shanahans like him and he's familiar with their scheme.


1. Alfred Morris (25/5'10/218 lbs.) FAU, 2012 [2 years, $1.3m]: Alfred Morris is overrated, and the Shanahan zone blocking scheme makes him look better than he is. That said, he's still a very good running back, and by all accounts one of the nicest people in existence. It's impossible not to root for the driver of the world's cheapest "Bentley". He sadly lacks the speed to make him a home run threat and isn't noteworthy as a receiver, but he is one of the most reliably powerful runners I've seen. He can be counted on to turn what should be a 1 or 2 yard loss into a 2 yard gain by fighting and always falling forward, which is incredibly valuable to a team and really changes the landscape of what the defense has to account for and what the offense has in its arsenal on following downs. It is also to that borderline-guarantee of positive yardage that Morris owes his 4.7 yards per carry, which just recently dropped from a league-leading 5.2. Despite his better production last year, I firmly believe that he has improved significantly this year, and has impressed me more as a runner with his decision-making and explosion. His ability, despite his size, to identify and slip into cracks in a zone is outstanding and he plants hard and makes powerful cuts. He will never be an elite runningback who can thrive in any scheme, but for what the Redskins run he is perfect (see: Arian Foster) and he could also do well in a power running scheme, though that would be a big change for the team and I have a hard time imagining it would be smart to try to make that transition after building the roster they have been for the past few years. Morris is the epitome of durable, reliable consistency and fits the scheme. Morris was named a pro bowl alternate (despite being more deserving than Frank Gore, who got a bid).

2. Roy Helu (25/5'11/215 lbs.) Nebraska [1 year, $760k]: Helu is a great compliment to Morris. He also has good vision befitting a back in this scheme, but his speed (4.40 40-yard dash at the 2011 combine, which was second amongst all runningbacks, and is faster than Griffin's was at his combine) and elusiveness are much better and he is a good receiver out of the backfield to boot. Though Redskins fans have been spoiled by Clinton Portis' incredible blocking, Helu is also a fairly capable pass protector, and at a surprising 215 lbs has more power behind his runs than people tend to expect. That said, he's more prone to losing yardage than Morris because he can't muster that same consistent forward-progressing power on every single play that Alf can (to be fair, I'm not sure anyone but Morris and Marshawn Lynch can) and, above all, Helu has had lots of trouble staying healthy.

3. Evan Royster (26/6'1/ 216 lbs.) Penn State [1 year, $670k]: A bit of a mix between Morris and Helu, Royster doesn't have the impressive strengths of either one, but is more of a balance and can play on any down in a pinch. Unfortunately, he has Helu's difficulty staying healthy. He's a perfectly fine third runningback, but nothing to write home about; his talent won't wow anyone, and it wouldn't be surprising or a big blow to see him lose his roster spot next season (particularly if speedy rookie Chris Thompson improves). Speaking of which:

4. Chris Thompson (23/5'7/192 lbs.) FSU, 2013 [3 years, $1.5m]: Despite making the initial 53-man roster, the diminutive back out of Florida State didn't contribute much as a runner and displayed shaky hands as a return man before being placed on Injured Reserve mid-season. Still, everyone knew he was a project coming off a big injury and he has the outstanding speed and agility to be a contributor if he can improve and stay healthy.

5. Jawan Jamison (22/5'7/203 lbs.) Rutgers, 2013 [1 year, 500k]: I have no idea why the plodding Jamison was picked out of Rutgers in the sixth round of this past draft except to fulfill the terms of whatever demonic pact Shanahan made early in his career to ensure an effective running game in exchange for a constant influx of random backs. In the wake of Royster's injury and IR placement, Jamison was just promoted to the active roster, but I don't expect anything of note. Still, never count out a Shannaback.

Filling out the Redskins backs are recent practice squad additions Davin Meggett (23/5'8/219 lbs.) (2nd year, Maryland) and Miguel Maysonet (24/5'10/209 lbs.) (rookie, Stony Brook), both of whom have bounced around to a few teams' practice squads. Mysonet was somewhat heralded as a priority UDFA this past year, but hasn't stuck anywhere, so smart money wouldn't expect anything from either. 
Update: Since this initial posting, Meggett was signed to a reserve/futures contract, while Maysonet signed one with Pittsburgh.


1. Darrel Young (26/5'11/251 lbs.) Villanova [2 years, $3m]: Young has been phenomenally successful in his transition from linebacker, and will stay with the team and continue to be a good lead blocker for the Redskins. Young can also contribute as an effective surprise short-yardage runner, though his pass-catching leaves something to be desired. He hasn't blocked as well this year as he did last year, but what has worked as well for the Redskins this season?

Tight End

1. Jordan Reed (23/6'3/225 lbs.)
Florida, 2013 [3 years, $2.2m]: Reed has been excellent coming out of Florida this year. I wasn't thrilled with the pick in terms of player or position, but he has proven me wrong by being easily the Redskins' best receiver outside of Pierre Garçon when healthy. He'll be back next season, he'll be starting, and he'll be the sort of impact player teams plan around. Griffin has already said Reed's something of a safety blanket for him, doing a great job of getting open and making good on 75% of his 60 targets in 9 games so far this season. Extrapolated out to a full season of starting, that would equate to a statline of 80 catches for around 900 yards. Not too bad for a third round rookie who spent a few of those games coming off the bench. One of Reed's best qualities this season has been what he's done after the catch, where he averages 5.1 additional yards (also known as more than half a first down conversion's distance), mixing deceptive shiftiness with a willingness to lower his head to make more people miss than you'd expect from a tight end. He isn't a good blocker right now, but that's to be expected as a smaller, receiver hybrid move-type tight end in the mold of Shannon Sharpe, whose position in the Shanahan offense he is playing.

2. Logan Paulsen (26/6'5/261 lbs.) UCLA [2 years, $2.9m]: Paulsen is a great player to have on a team. He isn't sexy and he isn't a game-changer, but he's the kind of reliable depth you need. He is a strong blocker at a powerful 6'5", 265 lbs., which is his main responsibility as the counterpart to Reed, but he's also a fairly reliable receiver (about two-thirds of his targets find home) whom defenses sometimes ignore in favor of more explosive players. This has especially come in handy the last three seasons when the more talented receivers playing ahead of him have gotten injured and Paulsen has been able to step in and provide a steady presence as an outlet in addition to his blocking. Then, of course, he's also a contributor across the board on special teams units, and at only 26 years old on an inexpensive deal, I expect him to stick with the team for quite a while to come.

3. Fred Davis (27/6'4/247 lbs.) USC [free agent]: Fred Davis is still talented, athletic, and only 27 years old. He can be a mismatch in the passing game and his strength and wrestling background allowed him to improve significantly since his horrible blocking at the start of his career. I had hoped that he and Jordan Reed could provide us with a lot of versatility in two-tight end sets, especially with the weak receiving corps. Unfortunately, Fred Davis fell out of favor in a big way and has spent a large portion of the season as a healthy scratch. He's a complete and utter knucklehead and might have disciplinary issues. Coming off a one-year contract where he was benched mid-season and two where he was injured and suspended, his market will be shallow and someone will get him for a good price. That said, I still doubt he is back with the Redskins (his best shot a that is probably a new coaching staff). I fully expect, however, that he will surface with another team when he gets a shot as an effective starter.

4. Niles Paul (24/6'1/233 lbs.) Nebraska [1 year, 690k]: Niles Paul (a.k.a. Jordan Reed prototype version 1.0) was Shanahan's first attempt at creating himself a new Shannon Sharpe, by taking a(nother) larger receiver and converting him to an undersized, athletic tight end. He's been able to get open pretty well, but dropped approximately ever ball that comes near him, and after a couple ineffective seasons, he's gotten limited work on offense this year. He is, however, a Shanahan favorite (see: Grossman, Rex) and very valuable on Special Teams, especially in light of the hemorrhaging of depth/special teamers in the last two cap-impaired seasons. Shanahan is never going to cut him, and he should be on the roster next year regardless.

5. Richard Quinn (27/6'4/264 lbs.) UNC [reserve/future, 1 year]: The 27-year-old blocking tight end has bounced around between the Broncos, who drafted him, the Redskins, the Bengals, the Cardinals, and now the Redskins again. He is a candidate to make a roster as a depth piece and special teamer, but with the tight end pieces on the roster, it's unlikely to be the Redskins.

6. Gabe Miller (26/6'3/257 lbs.) Oregon State [reserve/future, 1 year]: Miller has spent the last couple years skipping around the league since playing defensive end at Oregon State, but hasn't seen much playing time at any of his stops. He and Quinn are both likely examples of the Redskins preparing contingency plans in case of injuries next season or potential attempts at remedying  their struggling special teams.

Wide Receiver

1. Pierre Garçon (27/6'0/212 lbs.) Mount Union [3 years, $29.6m]: I wasn't thrilled when the Redskins brought Garçon in two offseasons ago on a contract averaging more than 8 million dollars a year. He is still probably overpaid, but has really exceeded my expectations and shown he can completely take over a game. He isn't quite as reliable and sure-handed as you might like, but is a playmaker who fairly regularly makes absurd circus catches, and can do great work after the catch on screens or slants, the latter of which I think the offense criminally underutilizes. Still, he's a good -- if not elite -- #1 receiver, and if he had a worthwhile #2 opposite him, ideally able to consistently move the chains on third down, it could make for an explosive attack. He isn't going anywhere, but it wouldn't surprise me if at some point in the future he were asked to restructure his deal. Garcon finished this season with an eye-opening and league-leading 113 catches, breaking Art Monk's team record and becoming the first player in league history to catch at least 5 balls in every game of the season (an achievement that Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown would match the same day). He was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

2. Leonard Hankerson (24/6'2/211 lbs.) Miami [1 year, $820k]: Leonard Henkerson has not lived up to expectations since being taken in the third round of the 2011 draft out of Miami by the Redskins (a trend with Redskins' third rounders, for some reason). With 4.4 speed, good size, and massive hands of nearly 11 inches, Hank-Time should be adept at both getting open and snagging any ball that comes near him. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. He has flashed ability and makes the occasional impressive snag, but isn't nearly consistent enough. Despite being given every chance in the world with the team's struggles at the position, he has been in and out of the starting lineup and topped 100 yards only once in his career, hitting 106 in the same game that saw his rookie season ended by a torn labrum. He could definitely still prove to be a starting-caliber receiver, but at this point, it can't be relied on or expected. The team needs a viable #2 receiver, so after three seasons, it's time to bring in someone new and let Hankerson face stiff competition for a large role in the last year of his rookie deal.

3. Santana Moss (34/5'8/189 lbs.)
Miami [free agent]: I love Santana Moss. He's one of my favorite players in the NFL and I've enjoyed watching him for a long time. He's also in clear decline at 34 years old. Despite playing on only about half of the team's offensive snaps as the entrenched slot receiver, he was still second on the team in that category with none of Hankerson, Morgan, or Robinson able to stick as the #2. He still provides value and, as little sense as it makes given his size and what his strengths used to be, is one of the team's more reliable options in terms of getting open to convert on crucial third downs of late. That said, he has lost some of his blazing speed and seemingly a lot of his catching ability. The percentage of balls thrown his way that he catches has been dropping since 2010 and his number of dropped balls has stayed the same despite his targets dropping precipitously, finally topping 10% this past season (compared to 5.6% of his targets in 2010). After a bad 2011, he worked hard to get into better shape for 2012, which saw some improvement, but he was fighting the inevitability of nature as he dropped off again in 2013.  As a result of this, it may be time to finally bid Moss farewell. He is one of the team's leaders and the longest-tenured member of the team, having just completed his ninth year with the team since they traded Laveranues Coles (back) to the Jets for him before the 2005 season. I would support bringing him back in a limited role as a veteran presence, but only if he is willing to sign a deal close to the veteran minimum.

4. Josh Morgan (28/6'1/220 lbs.) Virginia Tech [free agent]: Josh Morgan's tenure as a Redskin has been a failed experiment. He came into the league with a lot of ability, but has never been able to put it all together. He badly broke his leg while in San Fransisco, and never got back much of his explosion. He is one of the more reliable pass catchers of the group, though that is mostly indicative of a lack of sure-handed receivers, and really excels in two areas: after the catch and blocking. Morgan has good size and great strength and will fight for yards and fall forward consistently, taking a page from Alfred Morris' book. He is also one of the finest blocking receivers in the NFL, walling off defensive backs on outside runs to the point that I've frequently quipped that the team should give him a look at right tackle. In the Shanaclan's offense, the Z receiver's blocking ability is paramount, so that part has been a great fit. These would be great if he were paid like a depth player, but he cost the team upwards of 5 million dollars last season, a price tag that should accompany a playmaker and entrenched starter, neither of which describe Morgan, who has gotten and lost the starting job numerous times. He's unlikely to be back with the team next year, and that's just as well. At 28 years old, we've probably seen all he has to offer, and it's time to bring in new players with more upside.

5. Aldrick Robinson (24/5'10/181 lbs.) Southern Methodist [restricted free agent]: In his third season since the Redskins drafted him in the sixth round out of Southern Methodist, Aldrick Robinson is a burner. He has crazy speed that lets him take the top off of defenses, and pairs well with Griffin's canon of an arm. Unfortunately, that is about all he can reliably do at this point, limiting him primarily to posts, flags, and other vertical routes that rely on him simply outrunning defenders and hoping he hangs onto the ball if it comes his way. In the final three games of this season he was intentionally given an extended look as a starter, but failed to prove he's ready to contribute more than just a deep threat with mediocre hands.

6. Dezmon Briscoe (24/6'4/210 lbs.) Kansas [free agent]:  Briscoe is a fairly talented player with good size who has spent time with the Bucs and Redskins since the Bengals took him in the sixth round of the 2010 draft. He has never been a sustained starter, but snagged six touchdowns as a reserve with the Bucs in 2011. He spent much of 2012 on the Redskins roster, but saw the field very sparingly. The entirety of his 2013 was spent on injured reserve. Going into his age 25 season, he is probably unlikely to be back with the team, though there's a chance he gets brought back to compete for a roster spot. Briscoe's potential as a red zone threat intrigues me, so I would be in favor of that. 

7. Nick Williams (23/5'10/184 lbs.) UConn, 2013 Undrafted [2 years, $1.1m]: An undrafted rookie out of Connecticut this season, Williams spent the first half of the season on the Redskins' practice squad, and most of the remainder as WR depth and a special teams player. The team clearly liked him enough that he was given a multi-year deal when he was brought up to the active roster. In an attempt to see what he had, he was given significantly more playing time in the final weeks of the season. He didn't impress, but he didn't utterly flop either, making a few decent catches in the short-to-intermediate game. He was also given a look as a kick returner in the final weeks; again, he failed to light the world on fire, but at least he avoided dropping the ball, which is more than many of the team's returners this season can say. At 5'10", 185 lbs. without impressive athleticism, his upside would be as a fairly sure-handed slot receiver who can find seams in zones to pick up small chunks of yardage. He will be back in training camp next season, but not guaranteed a roster spot.

8. Lance Lewis (25/6'2/207) ECU, 2012 Undrafted [1 year, $500k]: A UDFA out of ECU in 2012, Lewis spent his first season and most of his second on the Redskins practice squad. Promoted in late November in a corresponding move to Leonard Hankerson's placement on injured reserve, he played a total of 5 snaps and lasted less than a month before being waived in the final weeks of the season. He was actually recently picked up by the Cowboys, so there's no real reason to pay him any attention in regards to next year's roster.

9. Josh Bellamy (24/6'0/206 lbs.) Louisville, 2012 Undrafted [1 year, 470k]: Bellamy is another second year UDFA. He spent his first season with the Chiefs', mostly on their practice squad, and this past pre-season with the Chargers. After being on the street for most of the regular season, the Redskins added him to their practice squad when Lance Lewis was promoted, and then promoted him as well a week later. He never saw the field, and is a longshot for any relevance with the team next season.

10. David Gettis (26/6'3/220 lbs.) Baylor, 2010 [reserve/future, 1 year]: The 6'3", 220-pounder was drafted by the Panthers in the 2010 draft on the back of a combine that showed off his 4.39 wheels.  He actually shared two seasons with RG3 at Baylor before being drafted, so the two are familiar with each other. Between that and his great size/speed combination, there is some potential for something to come of this signing, but his career to this point hasn't shown that he can turn his athleticism into production. Gettis actually started the majority of his rookie season with the Panthers, and was mediocre, finishing with 37 catches for 508 yards and 3 touchdowns. He reeled in 56.1% of his 66 targets and was credited with 2 drops. That would be fine for a rookie project, but he tore his left ACL in the following year's training camp and missed the season. He came back in 2012 but hardly saw the field and was waived by the team prior to this past season, which he spent as a free agent. I hope the team can help him turn his career around and would like to see him make the roster next year.

Offensive Tackle

1. Trent Williams (25/6'5/328 lbs.) Oklahoma, 1st:4 in 2012 [2 years, $25m]: Since the Redskins selected him fourth overall in 2010, Trent Williams has developed into one of the premier tackles in the NFL. He has had some bumps along the way, both on the field and off, but came into the league with a lot of potential and exceptional athleticism, and has improved and added polish since then. Despite his prototypical size and accompanying strength, Williams also has the quickness and agility of of the smaller linemen on the team. Even if he isn't quite dominant yet, one of the best things about him is that he is one of the few top tackles in the league who really excels at both run blocking and pass protection, with 2013 being his best season yet . Objective analysis of blocking is hard, but for what it's worth, Pro Football Focus rated Williams as their best overall tackle (right or left) on the season, finishing as the second best pass blocker and fourth best run blocker, making him one of only three of the top ten tackles who wasn't middling or worse in one of the two. One of my favorite things about Williams is how frequently and effectively he hustles to the outside on screens and outside runs, succeeding at getting his hands on smaller, quicker defensive backs, and preventing them from making a play. If Williams can keep his head on straight and has matured like he claims, he should be a fixture at left tackle for a long time, and hopefully continue adding to what is about to be his second consecutive pro bowl berth.

2. Tyler Polombus (28/6'8/305 lbs) Colorado [1 year, $1.1m]: I've desperately wanted Tyler Polombus replaced as the Redskins' starting right tackle approximately since he was named the Redskins starting right tackle. He's one of the worse starting tackles in the league, a poor fit for the scheme the team has been running (though not a great option for any at this point) and has been frequently overmatched as a Redskin. The team wasn't completely unaware of that and brought in competition at the position this past offseason, but none of it was overwhelming either and Polombus ended up keeping the job. Undoubtedly, the salary cap penalties contributed to the fact that the players brought in were primarily cheap retreads. Pro Football Focus actually rated him very highly this season after some consensus bad years, but I disagree wholeheartedly with that rating; from what I saw, he was at most marginally better than his previous poor play and still a weak link. The fact that Griffin could see the people who beat Polombus coming allowed him to escape, chuck the ball away, or, sometimes, run into a sack by someone else's assignment, thus lowering the hard totals of sacks and hits Polombus technically allowed, but that doesn't actually mean he was doing his job well; he got beaten far too frequently in pass protection, and was a  liability in the run game. I'm hopeful that the new regime sees fit to replace him. There are a plethora of offensive tackles in the draft and the team has a lot of cap space, so I would consider it unforgivable to go into next season without a better option at right tackle.

3. Tom Compton (24/6'5/308 lbs.) South Dakota, 2012 [1 year, $570k]: The Redskins drafted Compton out of South Dakota in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. Coaches reportedly liked what they saw from him and felt he has been developing well. After spending most of his first season on the practice squad, he made the active roster in year two as the team's swing tackle. Neither Williams nor Polombus has had a significant injury, so he has played only a small amount, but keeping him as the third tackle without a fourth even on the roster does indicate a lot of confidence in his ability. I wouldn't rely on him to legitimately compete at right tackle next year, but he should be back with the team, which isn't bad for a young guy taken in the 6th.


1. Kory Lichtensteiger (28/6'2/284 lbs.) Bowling Green [4 years, $15.7m]: Originally drafted by Shanahan when he was in Denver, Lichtensteiger is significantly undersized for a modern-day NFL offensive lineman at 284 lbs., but has the exceptional quickness and agility prized by Shanahan for his zone-blocking scheme. This allows him to quickly get to the second level to block linebackers or pull outside to open up holes in the run game. However, his relative lack of size and strength, and reliance on cut blocking and getting quickly to a position means powerful and athletic defensive tackles can bully him out of the way, especially in pass protection (see: Kevin Williams' week 12 game this season in which he slid over to nose tackle and got in on 3 sacks, which is his most since 2008). Lichtensteiger had a positive 2010 after signing with the Skins, and started the 2011 season well before tearing his ACL. This didn't stop the team from signing him to a lengthy and fairly sizable contract in the off-season. His 2012 was a little rough coming back from the injury, but this season he's been solid, albeit still with some significant down weeks when going up against tackles who can completely overpower him, and a relatively unimpressive last few weeks, when the entire team was falling apart. One good thing about Lichtensteiger is that he's versatile, perhaps even a natural center, so at just 28 years old, he should be able to continue to contribute for a while by moving around even if Adam Gettis (or someone else) proves himself starting-caliber at some point. He's probably overpaid, but still very useful in this scheme.With Gruden likely promoting McVay to offensive coordinator, it seems reasonably likely that Chris Foerster will remain the offensive line coach and the blocking schemes might not change too drastically. That would be in the team's best interest, as switching to anything more resembling a straight-ahead or power blocking scheme would render many of the players-- Lichtensteiger most of all-- useless to the team.

2. Chris Chester (31/6'3/309 lbs.) Oklahoma [2 years, $9.1m]: Chris Chester seems like a great guy, but he isn't a good blocker. Since the Redskins signed him in 2011, he has been consistently and all-around sub-par in all facets of the position. Even at 31, he's still a pretty athletic player (at his combine in 2006 he led all linemen with a 4.83 40-yard dash), but the frequency with which he's beaten in both pass protection and run blocking leave him better suited to a reserve role. He had a decent-but-not-great 2012 season while Lichtensteiger was struggling coming back from his ACL tear, leading some people to believe that left guard is the big issue with the Redskins' line but that isn't the case. Chester regressed back to his norm in 2013, and has 2 seasons of close to 5 million dollar cap hits coming up. The team would be best served cutting him (a savings of $7.5 million over the next season) if he won't take a pay cut.

3. Josh LeRibeus (24/6'3/315 lbs.) SMU [2 years, $1.6m]: It has been an up-and-down road for LeRibeus since the Redskins drafted him in the third round in 2012. I was skeptical of the player at the time, though I was happy with drafting a guard. Since then, he hasn't done much to change my mind, playing sparingly. The Rib showed some promise when he saw the field for two games at the end of his rookie season, but I hoped that he'd oust Chris Chester by now. He may have had a chance this year, but disappointed by coming into camp overweight and out of shape. There's still a chance, but I'm not confident enough that he will ever be more than a solid backup at guard and center to keep me from hoping the team gets a new starting-caliber guard.
4. Adam Gettis (25/6'2/292 lbs.) Iowa [2 years, $1.3m]: This pick greatly pleased me. Undersized and quick, with sound footwork, Gettis is a great fit for a zone blocking scheme and was a good value when he was selected in the 2012 draft's fifth round. It wasn't a game-changing pick, but I definitely preferred it (and still prefer it) to LeRibeus in the third. He has hardly seen the field since being drafted, but may have jumped LeRibeus as the go-to backup guard this season when he was improving while LeRibues was busy getting back into shape. Though I'm not confident in him having never seen him play extensively in the NFL, I wouldn't mind him getting a shot to win a starting spot next year, and if he doesn't then I hope he remains the top backup if any of the interior guys get hurt.

5. Maurice Hurt (23/6'3/329 lbs.) Florida [1 year, $650k]: Hurt is a versatile lineman who has backed up nearly every spot on the line since the Redskins drafted him in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. He spent his first few months on the practice squad, and once promoted ended up starting a number of games in relief of Lichtensteiger. In 2012, he played both guard and right tackle once Tyler Polombus got injured. This past season, he spent the entire season on the physically unable to perform list and injured reserve. When he's played, he has been unimpressive but showed some promise. He has good speed and agility for his size and seems to work hard at whatever coaches lay in front of him. He should probably never be a starter, but has some value as a versatile backup, going into the final year of his rookie contract.


1. Will Montgomery (30/6'3/309 lbs.) Virginia Tech [2 years, $7.4m]: To an even greater degree than Lichtensteiger, Montgomery is useless when going up against a strong nose tackle. He's a smart center who has had a few good years with the Redskins and reportedly has a lot of responsibility making line calls, but his upside is fairly low and a big tackle can just feast on him. He's not very big, not very strong, and doesn't have the outstanding explosion to get into exceptional position before they can start to work on him. In general he does a great job getting to the next level and blocking linebackers in the run game, which Shanahan liked from his interior linemen, and avoids major gaffes in pass protection if his opposition isn't anything special. Unfortunately, there are too many times I've seen him thrown into the backfield by an athletic tackle, giving the skill players no chance to do anything regardless of whether it's Griffin hoping for a pocket or Morris trying to get to a seam. He had a big hand in the Kevin Williams debacle I referenced in Lichtensteiger's entry. He is still a good center, but with significant flaws. Maybe having a bigger guard to his left or better guard to his right would help him out. I'd be fine with having him back, but he's not likely to be a terribly long term solution, and in the next year or two, I wouldn't mind seeing Montgomery and Lichtensteiger competing for the center position between a better pair of guards.  

2. J.D. Walton (26/6'3/305 lbs.) Baylor [free agent]: Walton was drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos in 2010. Starting every game as a rookie, he was sub-par, but improve noticeably as the year went on, allowing no sacks or quarterback hits in the eight games after the team's week 9 bye compared to five in the first eight games. His 2011 season was largely a disappointment, though he again started every game. 2012 saw him start fairly strong before an ankle injury in week 4 landed him on IR. In December, he was waived by the Broncos. The Redskins claimed him even though he wasn't going to play to allow them to get to know him and have a chance to re-sign him before the start of free agency. Walton was also RG3's center at Baylor for two seasons before entering the NFL. With largely lackluster play so far, there aren't any guarantees, but it's a low-risk move that could end up paying dividends. I like it. Even with the coaching staff that claimed him ousted, it wouldn't be surprising if he was kept around and given a shot to make the roster next season.

3. Tevita Stevens (26/6'3/300 lbs.) Utah [reserve/future, 1 year]: Stevens was an undrafted free agent who spent this past season on the Redskins' practice squad. They liked him enough to keep him around through the off-season and see if they think they have anything, but don't expect a future.

4. Kevin Kowalski (25/6'3/298 lbs.) Toledo [reserve/future, 1 year]: After being undrafted out of Toledo, Kowalski spent 2011 and 2012 with Dallas, playing sparingly at center and occasionally guard across a number of games as a backup. He spent this past season as a free agent before the Redskins signed him to a reserve/future contract to spend the off-season evaluating him.


Statistical and contractual information gathered from the following sources:

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