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Need to Know: Is safety or O-line the Redskins’ biggest offseason priority?

Feb 7, 2015, 7:44 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 7, 11 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

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 Redskins are a team with many needs as evidenced by their 7-25 record over the past two years. Safety is at the top of the list over the offensive line, over cornerback, over anything else.

The reason is simple. They don’t have a safety who is capable of starting for 16 games on the roster. The Redskins have only two safeties under contract in Akeem Davis and Phillip Thomas. Although I think Thomas could eventually be a starter, his lack of experience and injury history will prevent the Redskins from checking off the “strong safety” box when they are looking at areas where they are set.

On the offensive line, they do have some pieces. Left tackle Trent Williams is set. Center Kory Lichtensteiger did not allow a sack in 2014. At left guard, Shawn Lauvao should be better assuming that the team will go to more of a power-blocking scheme, something that caters to his strengths. On the right side it looks like age and a high cap number could make the Redskins part ways with Chris Chester. They should be able to slide 2014 third-round pick Spencer Long right into that spot. I don’t think they will want to keep Tom Compton at right tackle but that position could be filled by Morgan Moses if his Lisfranc injury has healed or with a free agent or draft pick.

To be sure, this is not the line that the Redskins will have if they are competing for championships in a few years. Scot McCloughan will have to continue to draft linemen (and bring in quality undrafted players) and Bill Callahan will have to develop them for both depth and future starters. But the goal for 2015 is to be able to field five competent players.

One more thing—if this question is framed to as which position the Redskins take with the No. 5 pick, the answer is “none of the above”. They need to take the best available player and that is unlikely to be a safety or an offensive lineman. The way things are lining up now that pick will be used on a player in the defensive front seven. They will have to address safety and the line later in the draft or in free agency.


—It’s been 41 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 220 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 31; Redskins offseason workouts start 72; 2015 NFL Draft 83

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. mrperry757 - Feb 7, 2015 at 8:04 AM

    Yes definitely to the beefing up the O-line IMO it’s kinda hard to truly evaluate the QB position if he can’t do a three step drop without being sack the running game is suffering also it wouldn’t make since to bring in Callahan without giving him what he needs. This year I would address the Trenches and next year go get a stud safety

    • Joe Greene - Feb 7, 2015 at 4:11 PM

      The sacks were usually happening long after the 3 step drop was complete.

      Bob takes forever to get rid of the ball, meanwhile the Seahawks prep for trying to deal with Brady included their coaches blowing a whistle in practice if they hadn’t reached the QB in 2.3 seconds.

      • Stephfan - Feb 7, 2015 at 4:54 PM

        You just don’t like griffin you wanna put the blame on him always. So tell was it cousins fualt that he also held the ball to long? Because either way you wanna spin it the Oline was bad regardless of who’s back there. Both qb’s are to blame point blank. Don’t need to look up stats to know that. Second why do you hate on griffin so much? What has cousin done to warrant another year of interceptions? Griffin was bad this year and so was cousins. But griffin will beat him for the starting position. And once an Oline is fixed griffin will flourish. I’m done with seeing turnover cousins. He has lost us way to manny close games. Untill he leads skins to a division title or playoff game then we can talk. He only won against the jags… Is thst really a qb you want. One that beat the jags lmao

  2. abanig - Feb 7, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    I agree that is the top of the list as well. As you said, they don’t have a starting caliber safety on the roster. They need a good to great coverage safety more than anything this offseason.

    If I was running the skins, my first signing would be Devin McCourty, Rahim Moore or Keenan Lewis.

    Take BPA in the first 4 rounds of the draft. That should be Danny Shelton, Shane Ray or Brandon Scherff in round 1.

    My preference in Danny Shelton.

    I think the Redskins should sign a FA OT to compete with Compton & Moses for the starting job. I’m not in favor of taking a RT/G with the 5th pick in the draft and the Redskins chose Trent Murphy last year in the draft to eventually start at one of the OLB spots, he played the second half of the season as Orakpo’s replacement at ROLB after he got injured and played great against the run and average as a pass rusher.

    If I’m the skins I want to see what Murphy has first before drafting another OLB in round 1 or 2.

    Possibly the Redskins draft an OLB in round 3 though to develop.

    • Joe Greene - Feb 7, 2015 at 4:15 PM

      McCourty is very small and McCloughan says he wants size, so I doubt that happens. Moore and Lewis could both be legit options that would, at worst, slot in as a starter while a draft pick gets up to speed in the NFL. Moore is very interesting since he played well in his first year back from a leg injury and may be ready to really hit his prime this coming season as a 25 year old with 2 years of recovery from his freak injury.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 7, 2015 at 9:28 PM

        How come this guys injury its ok if he didnt play up to par coming back but RG3 has to be lights out. Double standard

        • Joe Greene - Feb 9, 2015 at 1:16 AM

          No, you idiot, it’s not a double standard as he actually did play well when he came back. If you could actually read and comprehend at a level above the typical special needs chimp, you would have seen this in my response, “Moore is very interesting since he played well in his first year back.”

          Seriously, what’s it like to go through life with a single digit IQ?

          Just do the world a favor and kill yourself.

        • Stephfan - Feb 9, 2015 at 8:50 AM

          You make the most dumb comments, you get upset when no one on here agrees or likes what you say. News flash no one gives and f bout you. You don’t know sports that’s clear and I’m still waiting to hear your answer in why Kirk is a better qb than griffin since you praised him so much.

        • Rich Tandler - Feb 9, 2015 at 8:57 AM

          @Joe Greene, “go kill yourself”? Really? Did I stumble into a seventh-grade classroom here?

          Suicide is a serious issue, by the way.

          I gave you a “last” warning the other day but here’s one more. You bring up good points but if you can’t do it without throwing out garbage insults you’re going to have to find another sandbox to play in.

        • Stephfan - Feb 9, 2015 at 9:01 AM

          Get em rich get this guy outta here! Always throwing dumb insults to people and can’t back up some facts! Keep it clean in rich #captainrich

  3. goback2rfk - Feb 7, 2015 at 8:58 AM

    at this point, who cares. they will take who they take

  4. Jax4 - Feb 7, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    Need to trade back into the teens and take Landon Collins. There is no other position more needy and he is clearly the best safety in the draft. Pass on Shelton, they will do just fine with a healthy Cofield and Baker.

    • Stephfan - Feb 7, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      Cofield is done.. Baker I agree but they need to draft a dl and cut Bowen and cofield . It would savr money

    • abanig - Feb 7, 2015 at 12:51 PM

      They could take Shelton @ 5 and then take Gerrod Holliman, Cody Prewitt or Derron Smith in Round 2 to be their starting FS right away.

      Getting a starting NT and a starting FS for the next decade + for the Redskins defense would be amazing.

      • thankslittlebrandonbanks - Feb 7, 2015 at 1:29 PM

        Holliman is a ball hawk … In college. That is to say, in overwhelmingly first read pass offenses with the coaches holding the qbs hand. He is plain cringe worthy in the tackling department. It’s obvious when you watch him play, even to the point some people question whether he has lingering effects from a shoulder injury. Amerson was a college ball hawk too. Derron Smith is a strong safety. Prewitt seems to be the best fit for the second round of the guys you listed. Kurtis Drummond from Michigan state also fits the bill.

        • Joe Greene - Feb 7, 2015 at 4:17 PM

          Definitely like the Prewitt and Drummond ideas and would throw in Anthony Harris from UVA as well.

      • thankslittlebrandonbanks - Feb 7, 2015 at 1:31 PM

        I do agree though Shelton would be a pretty good first round choice. Assuming of course Williams is off the board.

    • Joe Greene - Feb 7, 2015 at 4:16 PM

      Collins is a mediocre, at best, coverage S whose physical deficiencies got exposed by Ohio State. He’s a smallish in-the-box S.

    • mr.moneylover - Feb 8, 2015 at 12:10 PM

      Landon Collins cant cover hes just another brandon merriweather we need safeties that can cover unless we gonna continue give up big plays down field

    • babyteal1 - Feb 9, 2015 at 9:04 AM

      Neither of those two guys are the answer. Neither are game changers.

  5. timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 7, 2015 at 11:10 AM

    The Biggest need is Oline. The main problem with the Defense was play calling ( lining players 10 to 12 yards off their guy, not blitzing for a whole half of football, playing soft zone on 3rd and short……ect…) When we did put pressure on and played bump and run our guys did fine. Also with the Oline being so bad you dont get any offensive productionand all the 3 and outs tires out the Defense and makes them even worse. Our Offensive line cant even hold a block for 3 seconds thats pathetic. Until we get our Oline fixed no QB has the time to throw the ball much less go through progressions. None of the young guys we have were able to beat out the jucnk on the feild thats why we need to Draft and sign more capable Olinemen.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 7, 2015 at 11:23 AM

      Funny how bad defensive play calling is when you have bad players lining up to attempt to execute them.

      Almost every day in the open part of practice I watched the Redskins DB’s try to jam WR’s at the line. Practice squad WR’s got by them regularly.

      Sorry, the players on the field earned every bit of that 29th ranked scoring defense. The defense won’t get better until they get better players.

      > > >

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 7, 2015 at 11:58 AM

        Rich I dont have that Privilege I wish I did all I can go buy is when I watch the game. At practice it may be a few things effort since it is practice, technique, or like you said talent. I tend to believe its more technique and effort in practice more than anything because in games it doesn’t look that bad the very few times they did bump and run with the reciever. I cant recall either one of our top 2 CBs trying to JAM the WR to take them totally out though. That still doesn’t explain why they had them lining up so far back on 3rd and short. They could have come within 2 to 5 yards of their guy atleast. The lack of blitzing and how far off they are is still on the coach.

      • abanig - Feb 7, 2015 at 12:58 PM

        Totally agree. The coaches can only do so much. The truth is the Redskins lost or saw 3 of their top defensive front seven players get injured that cost them several games last season.

        Then, they had young players who obviously didn’t put the work in to know their assignments and learn the other teams tendencies by studying film. The players who often blew coverages, were caught going the wrong direction, not recognizing offensive players in their zone and staring at the Qb too much instead of matching up with offensive players in their zone were the players who need to improve for the defense to improve.

        The coaches can’t go out there and play coverage or tackle for the DBs, it’s been a problem for the Redskins the past three seasons and that’s not all on the coaches, most of its on the players and their lack of preparation, mistakes and blown assignments or their lack of effort on game day.

        • Joe Greene - Feb 9, 2015 at 1:19 AM

          The coaches, especially Haslett, had a history of being bad coaches that extends back to well before their time in DC. At some point it’s their fault for never developing good players.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 7, 2015 at 11:31 AM

      Im not saying ignore the Safety position by no means Im just say the Oline is the bigger need. I would resign Merriweather and sign Antrell Rolle to short term contracts a nd Draft Holliman FS out of Louisville to take care of this and maybe next year Draft another Safety. What round depends on how Thomas and Holliman this year.

      I would try to get
      NT Shelton
      FS Holliman
      OG Mason GT play him at C
      OG Miller Louisville
      OT Brown Louisville
      QB Bryan Bennett
      Thats if we are stuck at our current picks if certain people fall in your laps like Williams at 5 or Phillip Dorrsett in round 2 or 3 you grab them their a few others I would grab if they fell or we traded down but thats too much speculating. Plus I havent had time to see were some othese guys rank so might be a little change up later but I definitely like the guys I listed

      • pdxskin - Feb 7, 2015 at 4:53 PM

        You are obviously a Louisville homer….should we hire their water boy, too?

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 7, 2015 at 6:35 PM

          I’m not a Louisville guy. I like the Miami Hurricanes. It just so happens they have a couple of good players that I saw Dominating

        • Joe Greene - Feb 9, 2015 at 1:24 AM

          He also wants to draft a speed option OG and play him at C despite the guy not having played their before.

  6. kenlinkins - Feb 7, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    Rich: I am not 100% sure that Collins (S Ala) is not going to be the BPA at the 5th pick in the draft (and may be the best value). I can find a lot wrong with any of the Top 10 guys on most Big Boards (Collins included). There are only 3 or 4 Super Stars in this draft and after those 3 or 4 kids if is very hard to grade one over another to the point of being able to say that the Redskins would be missing value by taking any one of the next 5 to 10 guys. Most Big Boards have TWO DE, OLB, QB, and OT listed in the Top 10. That tells me the Redskins have a chance to take the second best person at 4 position unless they draft Collins. Drafting Collins would remove the double risk of drafting the Second best player at a position with the 5th pick as there are no other Safeties listed in the Top 20 to 25 players on most Big Boards. Collins may be the safe pick, one of real value as the best Safety in this draft.

    • Bryan - Feb 7, 2015 at 11:47 AM

      Everything I have red on Collins is he isn’t a cover safety. Sorry don’t waste top 10 pick on in the box safety that can’t cover unless you have stud that can cover like skins did when Landry when we had Taylor but when taylor left this earth to early Landry we exposed as merly a in the box safety. The kid Holman I believer from Louisville and or kid from much state are said to be better cover guys and they can be had in 2 nd round so draft bpa in 1 at then go after safety in 2nd if you want but don’t reach for Collins

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 7, 2015 at 2:56 PM

      I am 100% sure that he won’t be. If the second best edge rusher in the draft is still the best player available, and that seems likely right now, that’s the way I believe McCloughan will go.

      • thankslittlebrandonbanks - Feb 7, 2015 at 8:25 PM

        Absolutely correct. Williams, Gregory, or Ray should be on the board. Can’t take Collins with that kind of talent available.

        • kenlinkins - Feb 7, 2015 at 9:05 PM

          Williams Yes, Gregory No (best suited for 4-3 DE position) Ray- No (Has the tools but has not master the moves and must develop and to date the Redskins have had little luck with development required pass rushers).

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 7, 2015 at 9:51 PM

          Exactly Ray is too small to fit in as a 3-4 OLB better fit on a 4-3, agree about Gregory too.

        • Joe Greene - Feb 9, 2015 at 1:25 AM

          Gregory is 6’6″ and can easily add the weight to be a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 DE in the NFL. Ray is barely 6’3″ and isn’t suited to our D at all.

  7. red - Feb 7, 2015 at 11:41 AM

    I have to disagree. We need a safety but almost every team does. Dallas needs some safety help but they had a good year. O line has to get upgraded. If you have a good o line everybody looks better. Dez is a beast but romo had time  to wait on dez to break away and throw it CONFIDENTLY down field. Its hard to throw it downfield when you barely get two secs to try and read defense. We could have two pro bowl wideouts but it will only happen if we have two pro bowl oline guys. Trent is one. The other one is….

  8. mr.moneylover - Feb 7, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    They are aiming to get both…but jay gruden feels akeem davis is ready to start at safety he will .he practice the safety postion daily but since he play better then phillip thomas on special teams he gave phillip thomas the start…I believe scot when he say redskins not to far off on turning this thing around…I think if david amerson or phillip thomas they will be cut …I think jarvis jenkins,chris baker will be cut if they don’t put on more weight/muscle

  9. polofourme - Feb 7, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    They are equally important and that really is the problem in a nut shell. This roster has holes throughout it…both on the defensive and offensive and special teams side of the ball. We have very few real impact players not enough to even call a foundation. So the fact is, in general the entire roster has to be rebuilt and that will take years…that’s YEARS and that is if every personnel decision we make hits the nail right on the head and that rarely if ever happens. So take your pick, OL or S…or DL or CB or QB or LBs…all have significant holes in the starting units and back ups. But you have to start somewhere…IMO that’s the OL. It takes the longest for the OL to learn to play together so they can operate effectively as a unit. Starting rookies, means a long learning curve but it pays off in the years to come and then your OL is set for years. Then you can turn your attention to other areas of concern. Rebuilding this roster will take time and require a great deal of very good luck. One misstep and that sets everything back and the fans here will be patient but only for so long

  10. mr.moneylover - Feb 7, 2015 at 4:02 PM

    You can get a starting o-line from round one to threw three I dont know about saftey…safety is slim this year in the draft if they do draft a saftey they gonna need to take time to develop them….undrafted players are the key to turn this team around…why ??? Because they will work harder and have a chip on they sholder because they didnt get drafted…first round picks dont always workout unless u a good evaluator on talent…a o-linemen I think from Nebraska or duke is claim to be the best o-linemen in the draft because of his hand placement and his physicality

    • mr.moneylover - Feb 7, 2015 at 4:05 PM

      And both Louisville o-linemen are good but they are projected to go in the third round thats how deep the draft is in o-linemen

  11. deepball1 - Feb 7, 2015 at 7:26 PM

    so far the REDSKINS WAY is not working…and once again the Redskins have missed out on an opportunity to improve their team as Richie Incognito joined the Buffalo Bills today. Of course Richie has a bad image and he is not a Redskins kind of guy. All Pro and brute force are the things he brings to the table but the Redskins are looking for Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches and Milk and Cookie guys because the Redskins must win OFF THE FIELD.

    As long as winning OFF THE FIELD is more important than winning ON THE FIELD the Redskins will have great difficulty getting a winning record.

    P.S. this would have been an incredible IMPROVEMENT over Chris “swinging door” Chester”.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 7, 2015 at 9:32 PM

      He’s not a “31 other teams” kind of guy, either. He was out of work for a full year. In a league that has some pretty shady characters on payrolls, that’s saying something.


      > > >

      • Mr Hart - Feb 8, 2015 at 9:43 PM

        He can’t be much worse than Chester and Polumbus. If they get cut I can’t see anyone other than Foodlion picking
        them up. The skins pick up good character guys who can’t play. I think most fans dont care if a guy was a bully as long as he can open holes up for Morris and keep the QB on his feet.

    • mr.moneylover - Feb 8, 2015 at 12:20 PM

      He worked out for denver and they pass on him…the bills are desperate and who say he wont do nothing stupid again…he took apart the dolphins franchise got ppl fired and made players lose they job redskins dont need that…redskins need good players not a distraction in the locker room

    • Joe Greene - Feb 9, 2015 at 1:26 AM

      You’re the same person that was clamoring for Terrance Cody, a guy with 4 starts in 3 years who is now going to jail for animal abuse. Maybe you should just not ever have an opinion on a FA.

    • skins1970 - Feb 9, 2015 at 5:07 PM

      No big loss I doubt Richie was on Scot’s radar for 2 reasons 1. The baggage he brings with him and he is over 30 years old. He doesn’t like to sign older FAs.

  12. Jesse allen - Feb 8, 2015 at 8:38 PM

    We need a safety who will make them think about throwing that long ball bc when they do the receiver will get hit so hard that they s**t them selves we need a new Sean Taylor and Alabama has him so go get him with the 5th pick

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 9, 2015 at 7:56 AM

      Sean Taylor was a guy and so is Landon Collins. That’s about the only thing they have in common. Collins is no Sean Taylor, no matter how much Redskins fans may want him to be.

      • skins1970 - Feb 9, 2015 at 5:12 PM

        Taking London Collins in the top 10 would be foolish like Rich said he is no Sean Taylor if we want him we should trade down to some where between picks 10-15.

  13. wildbill1952 - Feb 9, 2015 at 2:05 PM

    When you have two needs, both so obvious, you have to add in the total effect on the team. Add a safety, and assuming he is lights out the best safety the league has, and you may have 7 interceptions, 130 tackles, and if you’re real lucky, two Pick 6’s for the season. That would match the best in each category for every DB. The best the D any team scored in all of the league last year was 4 touchdowns off of all interceptions. So with a new safety, you can, if a miracle happens, expect one touchdown every 4 games. If he’s an all-Pro on day one.

    Compare that to what the lack of an OL cost the Skins last year. Two QB injuries, three if you count Colt being injured twice. Total games where the starting QB can’t play – 7. Sacks – 58. QB Hits – 113. Take away a third of each because the QB held on to the ball too long and you still have 38 sacks and 75 QB hits, which still puts you in the worst half of the league. Rushing offense – 28th according to Football Outsiders. Scoring offense – 26th in the league – 9th rushing – 26th passing. Passing offense – 11th in yards, 26th in scoring. 58% of all 3rd and 4th downs with under two yards to go that succeeded. (4th worst). Stuffed on 20% of all running plays (where the RB was hit at or behind the line of scrimmage). There are no stats to guesstimate the number of scores these cost. Do you think it might be more than 4 touchdowns if they improved the OL by 20% (1 out of 5 OL)?

    Last I read the rules, the team that scores the most still wins. Adding a new safety is just not going to have the impact in the win column. Going without major improvements in the OL means you may be again running the offense with the second or third string QB for half the year. Do the Skins need a new safety? Yes, no doubt, guaranteed, I believe a new safety would improve the Skins D. But the impact on the won-loss record will be negligible as compared to getting a good right tackle and improving pass protection and a running game. Archives

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