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Need to Know: Looking at 2015 Redskins starting lineup changes

Jan 17, 2015, 4:53 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 17, 103 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock for the first round of the NFL draft.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

The starting lineup is going to undergo a lot of changes, but some of them will come from promotions from within so they wouldn’t be new to the team. And it’s hard to tell who will be available in free agency and in the draft. For example, a year ago I would have bet anything that they would have a new right tackle. But they couldn’t sign Donald Penn and they drafted Morgan Moses, who turned out to be a project.

But here is my stab at it for 2015:

Free safety—I think this comes via an inexpensive, short-term free agent pickup. They have to get someone to replace Ryan Clark and so they’ll bring on someone who can hold down the fort until a drafted player is ready. Right now I’ll say Phillip Thomas will be the starter at strong safety but that’s far from a lock.

Left outside linebacker—This is assuming that they stick with the 3-4; things will get all shuffled up if they do switch to 4-3. In any case, I think that either Shane Ray or Randy Gregory will be the best available player when they pick at No. 5. They’ll move Ryan Kerrigan to the right side to rush the QB’s blindside and put the rookie in his old spot.

Nose tackle—Again, I’m assuming that the 3-4 base scheme stays. Whoever the new defensive coordinator is will ask up someone bigger than Barry Cofield to man the middle of the line.

Center—Yes, I know that Kory Lichtensteiger was arguably the Redskins’ best offensive lineman last year. I just don’t see Scot “Big Men Win” McCloughan being content with a center who weighs less than 300 pounds. I think he goes out and drafts a big body in the third round and they plug him in at center.


—It’s been 20 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 239 days until they play another one

Days until: NFL Combine 34; NFL free agency starts 52; 2015 NFL Draft 103

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. dcfaninecuador - Jan 17, 2015 at 6:14 AM

    So, Rich, I gather you (and the team) don’t think Murphy has what it takes. Seems to me he did pretty well considering he was supposed to back up Rak for a year and not be thrown into starting right away.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 17, 2015 at 6:23 AM

      Murphy’s fine but you can’t have too many good pass rushers. Murphy was playing about half of the snaps before Orakpo got hurt and that’s a good role for him. For all of the complaining about the secondary, pass defense starts with pass rush.

  2. darrynhyman - Jan 17, 2015 at 6:39 AM

    Hey Rich, I agree with the fact that you can’t have too many pass rushers. I am concerned with the potential of another short term solution at FS…I do know there is no “sure thing” stud at the top of the draft. Do you know if any solid FS’s will be in the FA pool this spring?

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 17, 2015 at 9:34 AM

    If we can’t get Leonard Williams, I’d consider the top LT (he’d start off at RT for us), as well as Shane Ray or Randy Gregory.

  4. abanig - Jan 17, 2015 at 9:37 AM

    1. I don’t see them moving Kerrigan, why mess with a good thing? I think Kerrigan should stay at LOLB and the rookie should start at ROLB or they should go with Murphy at ROLB again.

    Also, if they draft Gregory or Ray, what happens with Murphy? Do they start over Murphy in your opinion?

    What about right guard, defensive end or cornerback?

    Do you feel that Spencer Long or Josh LeRibeus will be the starter at RG and the Redskins won’t sign a guard who can start there or draft a guard in round 2 or 3 that may start over them?

    I personally think they should give one of their young 3rd round guards a chance for a season at the RG starting position before they sign a high prices free agent or draft another guard in round 2 or 3.

    What about defensive end in the 3-4? I think the Redskins have one starting DE in Hatcher, but I don’t think the Redskins have a starting defensive end opposite him. Don’t they need to sign a starting DE or draft a DE high in the draft? I think they do, and I actually think that position may be more important than getting a new NT or C. Baker seemed to play well at NT last year, as you said Lichtensteiger was arguably the best offensive lineman on our team last year (IMO he was our best OL) I think the Redskins can have him start at center for another year and focus on upgrading other positions on the team more like DE & Corner along with the others you mentioned.

    For corner do you see them just staying put with their current top 3, or do you think they’ll sign a player like Byron Maxwell or Walter Thurmond to challenge Amerson, Breeland and Hall for one of the starting positions at corner.

  5. Daniel horrell - Jan 17, 2015 at 9:47 AM

    I keep seeing talk of drafting an outside linebacker. Is that not why we drafted Murphy last year fro Stanford in the second. Why would he not be suitable to step in vs drafting another stud super early in ghe draft

    • abanig - Jan 17, 2015 at 11:31 AM

      Assuming they are the best players available. The Redskins need pass rushers, prefably there would be a free safety that’s worth the 5th spot or a defensive lineman, but there won’t be.

      It’s almost certain Leonard Williams goes before the Redskins pick, so it’s very likely they take Gregory or Ray.

  6. Brandon - Jan 17, 2015 at 10:21 AM

    As a Mizzou season ticket holder and fan – and Redskins fan obviously – I would love to see the Skins draft Shane Ray. I’ve watched him play for two seasons and I assure you he is better than Trent Murphy. Ray could start at one OLB spot opposite Kerrigan and Murphy would give the Skins a very solid backup. Our LB’s and pass rush would be upgraded which is something we desperately need.

    And from what practically everyone is saying, there is no OT or safety worthy of a top five pick.

  7. toothcoster - Jan 17, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    Need to trade back in round 1, unless L.Williams is available, take Cameron Erving top of 2ND plug n play center, guard or RT for 10-12 years.
    With trade back in first get an extra 4th Rd pick with intent to take K Roberto Arguyo, will be PK for next 15 years…. been that long since there was a K in DC.

    • captblood3000 - Jan 17, 2015 at 11:39 AM

      According to the draft value chart, to trade back in the first round to pick up only a fourth round pick, the Redskins could have only one trading partner: the Jets at #6. The Jets’ needs are considerably different from the Redskins. The only scenario I see for this is where the Redskins are ready to pick and they have two players tied atop their board: say, Gregory and Ray. The Jets grade the same two players and have a clear favorite. Or one of the top two quarterbacks is still available at #5. But in that case, I would expect better offers for #5.

      • abanig - Jan 17, 2015 at 3:06 PM

        I think so as well, but I wouldn’t want to miss out on Gregory if I was the skins. It’d have to be a good offer for a trade down in my eyes.

    • abanig - Jan 17, 2015 at 3:04 PM

      How far do you think they’ll trade back in round 1?

      If it’s 5 to 10 spots, they should get a second round pick and a 4th or 5th round pick to move back that far.

      It would be hard to pass on Gregory though as he has All-Pro talent, he reminds me of Aldon Smith, w/o the off the field issues or like a DeMarcus Ware, a tall, long a lean pass rusher who will give opposing offenses fits.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 17, 2015 at 3:39 PM

      Erving is solid, but he’s not going to start in the NFL for 10 years, maybe not even 5.

      There’s no trade back that only nets us a 4th rounder. No chance of that. We’ll pull in at least another 2nd rounder if we move back and my guess is it would take two 1st rounders either this year or this year and next year.

  8. mr.moneylover - Jan 17, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    I think they switch to the 4-3 if they hire vic fangio…jay gruden and scot love big boys jay gruden gave it a try with smaller linemen and he dont like it

    • ipitydafu - Jan 17, 2015 at 12:52 PM

      Doubtful. Vic is a 34 coach. Schwartz maybe.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 17, 2015 at 3:41 PM

      Of course you think that. Just ignore the part where Fangio coaches the 3-4 and your view on that makes sense.

      • deepball1 - Jan 17, 2015 at 11:29 PM

        just ignore the part where you have no idea what you’re talking about and it makes more sense.

        • Joe Greene - Jan 18, 2015 at 5:43 AM

          As usual, you’re an idiot with nothing to add to the conversation. Fangio has 3 years running the 4-3 and that ended in 2001. He’s a 3-4 DC and nothing else at this point.

  9. colmac69 - Jan 17, 2015 at 11:23 AM

    Most important positions in 3-4 are two outside guys and nt…..u look at some great 3-4 last ten yrs and they got three great players at those spots…..u nd nt to b able to create havoc inside and occupy at least two interior linemen and outside guys to pressure qb on consistent basis

    I thought with murphy he was drafted as pass rusher first,,,, obviously found it harder at this level although think he proved surprising better against run,,, however your outside guys are paid to rush qb not stopping run like murphy and orapko,,,,,

    This offseason has to b aimed at addressing some def issues whether draft or free agency, ,,,, but right now im happy with the way we going bout our business

    • Joe Greene - Jan 17, 2015 at 3:41 PM

      “u nd nt to b”

      What? Is it really that hard to speak like an adult human?

      • colmac69 - Jan 18, 2015 at 4:47 AM

        Just for you joe I will translate that into real english

        “You need nose tackle to be”

        Its not really that hard to understand is it?

        And I apologise if you think I am taking liberties with the queens english,,,,,, hope you have a nice day

  10. captblood3000 - Jan 17, 2015 at 11:50 AM

    I recall talk of moving LeRibeus to center. Is that still under consideration? He’s big enough. There aren’t that many big centers.

  11. Joe Greene - Jan 17, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    Center before either of the horrendous OGs? Come on Rich, even you have to be smarter than that.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 17, 2015 at 4:30 PM

      Joe, the question was about newcomers. I think Long is RG and they stand pat on the left with Lauvao as his contract is hard to get out from under

      • Joe Greene - Jan 18, 2015 at 5:48 AM

        Lauvao is easy to bench for a year and there’s literally no reason to bench Lichtensteiger considering there’s 1 quality C on the FA market (the 2nd best one just might be Will Montgomery) and nothing of note at C in the draft other than some guys who are as small as, or smaller than, Kory.

        It makes no sense because there isn’t an obvious upgrade other than Rodney Hudson.

        • Rich Tandler - Jan 18, 2015 at 9:15 AM

          It’s “easy” to bench a $4 million/year player? I doubt that anyone at Redskins Park would agree with that. I sure don’t. He starts or he gets cut and you deal with the dead money.

          We’ll see if McCloughan agrees with your assessment of free agency and the draft. Somehow I doubt he will.

          > > >

        • Joe Greene - Jan 18, 2015 at 3:59 PM

          I couldn’t care less how much he makes, he was a terrible OL before he got here and is terrible now. Bench him until we can afford to cut his lousy behind.

  12. Joe Ringling - Jan 17, 2015 at 4:20 PM

    I’d love to see us trade back. Cleveland has the #12 and #19 picks in the first rounds. If we trade with them I’d love to see us get the best available tackle at #12, somebody like Peat from Stanford. Then at #19 grab Danny Shelton, NT from Washington. He’s the plug in the middle our 3-4 has been missing and is also more than just a space eater. He had 9.5 sacks this year. We do that and solve two huge needs right away with two instant starters at positions of need.

    • kenlinkins - Jan 18, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      There will be nothing on the broad that the Cleveland Browns would trade up for. There main needs are DT, WR and with two first round picks in the top 20 they can solve both concerns. They just drafted a QB in round one in 2014. They will sign a middle level FA QB or draft a QB with the extra 4th or 6th round pick they have and resign Hoyer (who else will give him a shot at starting) to go with Johnny Football. Why in the world would the Browns want to waste another high draft pick on a QB’s who will take 2 years before he can help them when they have that already. IMO the Redskins will not have a trade down partner who will give the Redskins a good deal for the 5th pick (unless USC DT is still there) then all deals will be heard!

  13. Joe Ringling - Jan 17, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    We can also solve our interior line problem by moving LeRiebious to Center. He’s 315 lbs. that’s 20 lbs bigger than current starter Lichtensteiger. Then cut Chester and insert Spencer Long at Right Guard. Another big lineman that our coaching staff seems to covet. We don’t have enough cap space to fill every need via free agency and I think a few tweets to the roster can be made by promoting from within. If we spend big on anything it has to be on a Free Safety. McCourty from New England should be our number 1 priority from day one of free agency.

  14. gasngo14 - Jan 17, 2015 at 8:04 PM

    So i am hearing we are in talks with Vic Fangio this evening, hope Dan throws the wallet at him sure would make for a clean sweep this off season! Dan get it done, HTTR!!!!

  15. deepball1 - Jan 17, 2015 at 11:46 PM

    well, since the Skins ignored my advice to fire Haslett last year at this time and they learned a year late, let me give it another try at advising them. Sign Terrence Cody from Baltimore to a 4 year contract the day free agency starts and you Nose Tackle spot is filled without breaking the bank.

    Draft Shane Ray to add the speed rusher that Orakpo never turned out to be and slot Ray as the RIGHT SIDE linebacker immediately.

    Cut Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield and save your team 8.5 Million dollars in Cap Room.

    But before all that happens, sign Vic Fangio to a contract and have a press conference to announce it this Tuesday. I think those simple moves would make all Redskins fans happy.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 18, 2015 at 5:52 AM

      Signing a guy who played 9 snaps last year “solves” the NT position? Signing a guy who hasn’t been a starter since 2011 “solves” the NT position? Signing a guy who isn’t any good “solves” the NT position?

      The guy has 21 starts in 5 years and is coming off a hip injury. How does that “solve” anything.

  16. murphsman - Jan 18, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    Rich, you said you think Lich is too small to play center. Any possibility they move him back to LG, move Lauvuo over to right side, and cut Chester, keeping Long as backup?

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 18, 2015 at 9:13 AM

      They want bigger linemen, period. Doesn’t mean that Stieger is gone, could wait to replace him. But he’s not playing anywhere but at center.

      > > >

      • murphsman - Jan 20, 2015 at 4:00 PM

        Ok thanks. I guess I misunderstood what you were saying about Lich, then. Archives

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