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Need to Know: What power blocking linemen are available for the Redskins?

Apr 7, 2015, 5:44 AM EDT

Laken-Tomlinson-action

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 7, 23 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week 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 comes from Twitter:

Yesterday Tarik and I discussed the Redskins’ likely shift to more of a power rushing with Bill Callahan on board. I noted that the Redskins currently have two starting linemen who are ill-suited to power blocking in RG Chris Chester and C Kory Lichtensteiger. Who could replace them?

I know that everyone is all anxious for the Redskins to draft offensive linemen and everything but there are players currently on the roster who could take over as starters this year or next and make the O-line better suited to power blocking.

The potential guard is Spencer Long, last year’s third-round draft pick. At 6-5, 311 (and able to add on more weight if necessary) he has the size for the power technique.

A lot of people were surprised a year ago when center Tyler Larsen went undrafted out of Utah State. He did not play last year and the Redskins were able to pick him up as a street free agent. He’s 6-4, 315, on the large size for a center. Larsen is not a sure thing and he probably needs a year of seasoning to really find out if he will. But he is as good a shot as any mid- to late-round pick will be.

But if McCloughan is unsure about Long and wants insurance in case Larsen can’t make it, there are options in the draft. I did a Draft Countdown post on my favorite guard in the draft a few weeks ago. Laken Tomlinson of Duke is 6-3, 323, and he has the high level of intelligence that is a characteristic of good O-linemen.

I’m not sure McCloughan will take Tomlinson with their top pick in the second round but if they get a later second-rounder in a trade Tomlinson might be in play. If he’s still there in the third he could be hard to pass up.

Cameron Erving is the consensus best center in the draft and he could blast some defenders out of the middle of the line. He has plenty of technical flaws but as a converted defensive lineman that is to be expected. There’s nothing wrong with him technique-wise that Bill Callahan can’t fix.

Erving could be gone by the time the Redskins pick in the second round. If they want him and he’s still there, they have better get him at No. 38.

Timeline

—It’s been 100 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 159 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 13; 2015 NFL Draft 23; Redskins training camp starts 114

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. troylok - Apr 7, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    Okay, so what happens with Lichtensteiger? I have written off Chester already but Lichtensteiger is a good center in the right system. He has trade value.

    • jtaylor68 - Apr 7, 2015 at 8:38 AM

      You can’t be serious…..we might be able to trade Lichty for a tuna sandwich if were lucky. I don’t dislike the Larsen pick-up but,what does it say when an undrafted and available/street center is brought in to compete for the job ?

      • captblood3000 - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:27 AM

        What does it say? This year’s draft class at center is shallow. If you want a bigger center, B. J. Finney from Kansas State might BE the pool. So think of signing Larsen as finding a free day 3 draft pick. And say that someone in Ashburn got it right.

        • jtaylor68 - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:34 AM

          Ok….”someone in Ashburn got it right”. I agree with you and with the idea of Finney if we cant get Erving. I was referring to Lichty in my previous post.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 7, 2015 at 1:01 PM

          Larsen is not a free day 3 pick he went undrafted he is what he is a undrafted second year free agent.

        • captblood3000 - Apr 8, 2015 at 12:22 AM

          Nonsense, Timmy. Last year’s center class was deep. If Larsen were in this year’s shallow center class, he’d be drafted. I’m sorry you don’t understand the Law of Supply and Demand.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 8, 2015 at 9:58 AM

          So your saying even though he wasn’t considered better than over 250 other players last year. in this year he would be considered a late round pick. That seems like nonsense. I guess he could be the last pick in the draft not much difference though

        • captblood3000 - Apr 8, 2015 at 12:17 PM

          “A lot of people were surprised a year ago when center Tyler Larsen went undrafted out of Utah State.” Go back and read the article, Timmy. I know it doesn’t support your offensive line rants, but there isn’t much that does.

    • Rich Tandler - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      An undersized, 30-year-old center with a $3.75 million cap hit is not going to draw much trade interest.

      > > >

      • jtaylor68 - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        That’s what I was trying to say. Thanks Rich

  2. timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 7, 2015 at 8:42 AM

    Rich what do you think about LeRibeus moving to Center? I think he has the right size and I know Shannahan had him lining up there in Training Camp. Have you heard of Gruden trying him there? Or actually have you heard anything about him lately? What do you think of Shaq Moses out of Georgia Tech as a Center Prospect we can getin the later rounds? Also what do you think about OT/ OG Jamon Brown & OG John Miller both out of Louisville? I thought each of these guys played pretty well against top talent in the All Star Game.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 7, 2015 at 8:43 AM

      All these guys will be mid to late round picks I feel could compete to start or be Quality backups.

    • Rich Tandler - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:08 AM

      He has been tried there and can’t do it. My recommendation is forget about LeRibeus as a solution to anything. Maybe he surprises, you never know, but I think he’s had his shot and if he can’t make it at left guard—that’s right, he can’t even swing to both sides, that’s why he was inactive so much last year—he’s done.

      I assume you’re talking about Shaq Mason? Maybe, depends on if Larsen shows anything as the project.

      > > >

      • bangkokben - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:21 AM

        So he’s solely a left guard that was drafted by the previous regime that had different standards for linemen. And he’s not good enough to supplant our starting underachieving left guard. Thanks for the dose of reality.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:25 AM

        Yes Mason. What about the Louisville kids

        • captblood3000 - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:55 AM

          Mason played guard at Georgia Tech. If moved to center he would be a “developmental center”. Put another way, is he an upgrade over Larsen, who played center for four years at Utah State?

          It’s easier to draft a center and move him to guard. An example is Weston Richberg, whom the Giants started as a rookie last year.

          I like the Giants’ philosophy here, every year they draft offensive linemen. But it makes no sense drafting “quality backups”. Draft guys you think can start within two years. If you wind up with 6 starter-level interior linemen, you have “quality backups”.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 7, 2015 at 12:42 PM

          I know Mason played Gaurd at Georgia Tech he also Played Center at the All Star Game and did a great job. Mike Mayok said with his Punch and ability he would be moved to Center. He also said he did a great job playing that spot the whole week of the Senior Bowl practices and game so it’s not a streach that he could play that spot well and beat out an undrafted second year free agent. I also said these guys Would be able to Compete for a Starting job or be Quality Backups this year. Quality back up this year means they didn’t win the job this year because they need time to adjust to the speed but are good enough to start at some point.
          I would never mention.someone I didn’t think could start within 2 years

        • captblood3000 - Apr 8, 2015 at 12:42 PM

          Shaq Mason wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine. Tyler Larsen was. Shaq Mason did not play center at Georgia Tech. Larsen started at center all four years at Utah State. Larsen was a finalist for the Remington Award. Larsen is ten pounds heavier than Mason and has the potential to get bigger. At 315 pounds, Larsen is still suited to a zone blocking scheme. Mason will likely cost the Skins their fifth round pick. Larsen is already signed, by people who seem swayed by arguments like the ones I just made.

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 7, 2015 at 8:43 AM

    Agreed on Erving. Not only is he good, his versatility (can play any position on the line) is a big plus.

    I don’t know that he’d last until our 2nd pick. If he got anywhere close, it might be worth using a lower round pick to move up a few spots and get him.
    ~

    • jtaylor68 - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:07 AM

      Erving is a sure thing; almost sure he doesn’t get out of the first round. It would be great to get him.

    • timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 7, 2015 at 9:30 AM

      Doesn’t anyone think he is a little tall for a Center? You would think he would have problems getting leverage in pass protection and get stood up easily. I’m also concerned with him developing back problems from playing that position.

      • captblood3000 - Apr 7, 2015 at 10:02 AM

        You could start Erving anywhere on the line except maybe left tackle. If he doesn’t work out at center, he can only start at one of three positions.

        • timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 7, 2015 at 12:44 PM

          Ya I realize that he can play at other positions. Everyone keeps pegging him as a Center I was just asking what people thought about his size at center

  4. kenlinkins - Apr 7, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    Trying to find good power blocking O-Lineman in the draft is not easy due to the zone blocking most college teams now run. Most have not been asked to power block as it is much harder to do. Other then LOT most college teams are happy to find quick footed big guys who can just “wall off” and then turn up field to screen off LB’s. In the Pro game there is so much more to learn. Everyone is strong, quick and fast on defense and most of the non LOT find themselves lacking in technique to be able to control their assignment. I see very few plug and play LG, C, RG and RT’s in this draft and none after the 2nd round. If the Redskins are planning to improve the O-Line with the draft this year they must be able to trade back and use their 2 highest picks on guys like Scheff, Peat, Collins, Erving or Flowers. Anyone one else is going to be a project that will not produce until 2016. Is it a bad idea to spend most of your fire power in the first year of a rebuild on O-Linemen? No, not at all, but unless the Redskins can trade back for more high draft picks I just do not see much help showing up this year.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 7, 2015 at 12:06 PM

      Ereck Flowers has all the power one could want, and then some.

      He’s not polished* enough to go at 5, but he’s worth thinking about if we trade back.

      * Concerns about his bend and footwork. But he’s only 20. 6’6″, 34 1/2-inch arms, 329 pounds, 37 reps on bench press.
      ~

    • ET - Apr 7, 2015 at 12:34 PM

      The numbers dictate that a probable starter-ready lineman will be left at the top of the 2nd round if the Skins want one there, and there should be value options in the mid-rounds.

      But with so many needs to address, will Scot concentrate his “firepower” on the O-line? Who knows. But I doubt it.

      • bowlregard - Apr 7, 2015 at 3:23 PM

        I keep thinking of Zack Martin and what a difference he made for the Boys. The guard position is still undervalued, though not as much as it was in days gone by.

    • bangkokben - Apr 7, 2015 at 1:49 PM

      “I see very few plug and play LG, C, RG and RT’s in this draft and none after the 2nd round. If the Redskins are planning to improve the O-Line with the draft this year…”

      No. They are not planning on drafting starters for the o-line.

      “Is it a bad idea to spend most of your fire power in the first year of a rebuild on O-Linemen? No, not at all…”

      Yes! Yes it is a bad idea.

      I know you don’t quite ‘get’ the concept of best player available. But in order for you to mesh that concept with the ‘NEED’ to improve the line, you have determined that the ‘skins must trade out of #5 and then select two o-linemen with their top two picks because this will then be more in line with the ‘value’ of the picks especially when the BPA may then be o-linemen.

      This is not how GMs who have BPA as a philosophy think/act. This is how Vinny Cerato would act and then justify the picks – A la the ‘pass catcher’ draft.

      First, you assume the Redskins NEED to upgrade their starters. They don’t need to but may want to. They may even want to this year and the only way we will know for sure is if they cut one of their starters, sign a free agent to starter money, or use a top 50 draft pick for one. At this point, none of these things have happened. So let’s then look at the roster to look for any possible solutions.

      In order of 2015 cap hits:
      LT Trent Williams $13.7M
      RG Chris Chester $4.8M
      C Kory Lichtensteiger $4.3M
      LG Shawn Lauvao $4.0M
      LG Josh LiRibeus $865K (probably gone if Rich is right)
      T Morgan Moses $729K (Lisfranc – uh-oh)
      RG Spencer Long $673K
      RT Tom Compton $660K
      G Rishaw Johnson $660K (UFA 2012 Seattle Seahawk)
      RT Xavier Nixon $585K
      RT Ty Nsekhe $510K
      C Tyler Larsen $435K

      The Redskins will undoubtedly draft a linemen or two – the question is: where? And how much is Scot M committed to Gruden and his style of play? If he’s on the fence he might suggest making do with what’s on the roster. Additionally, they will sign several undrafted free agents. Then, from the entire pool, they will end up with just nine guys.

      So looking at the contracts and the draft positions, you’d have to conclude at this moment that Williams, Lichtensteiger, Lauvao, Moses, and Long are locks to make the roster and then Chester and Compton are highly likely to make the team as well. Then you’ve got room for the one or two draft picks.

      • kenlinkins - Apr 7, 2015 at 2:45 PM

        I learned a long time ago that just because someone states something with conviction, that doesn’t make it fact. We will just have to agree to disagree. We as fans will not know anything for sure until opening day.

        • bangkokben - Apr 7, 2015 at 3:05 PM

          I can certainly agree to those three statements.

      • bowlregard - Apr 7, 2015 at 3:18 PM

        “And how much is Scot M committed to Gruden and his style of play?”

        Well let’s see. Jay wants a power running game. Scott says big people beat little people. Seems to me they’re on the same page.

        • bangkokben - Apr 7, 2015 at 7:13 PM

          On the surface they appear to be in agreement. Gruden’s gripes about the o-line appear to be more concerning the power running instead of the pass protection. And if the GM drafts a Jon Jansen type at #37 then the door back to primarily being a zone blocking team is firmly closed. On the other hand, if Scot drafts a Chris Samuels type (big athletic guy never beaten in college for a sack) then maybe he’s in accord with the fans that believe all that ails this team is the o-line.

  5. donald truax - Apr 7, 2015 at 11:48 AM

    Blocking linemen are a must for power run game Go Skins

    • ceetown22 - Apr 7, 2015 at 6:15 PM

      blocking linemen are a must to play on the o-line in the NFL… Hail Skins!

  6. redskinscaio - Apr 7, 2015 at 4:04 PM

    For NTK

    Rich, what would you say if the Redskins drafted Danny Shelton with the 5th pick and then traded away Knighton for let’s say, a safety or a guard?

    • captblood3000 - Apr 8, 2015 at 12:15 AM

      LOL. Two things that won’t happen.

  7. Skulb - Apr 7, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    Do you see Moses as a starter next season Rich?

    • ceetown22 - Apr 7, 2015 at 6:20 PM

      Nope. sorry, you said Rich.

      He doesn’t need to waste his time, there’s been so much talk about this question, the damn kid is coming off a lisfranc injury in one of his feet. We will be lucky if he’s ready for training camp… Jay Gruden says he expects Moses and Compton to compete at RT.

      Or were you looking for Rich’s opinion? see the “poker chips” article from early March.

      http://realredskins.com/2015/03/05/need-to-know-playing-the-odds-predicting-the-redskins-2015-o-line/

      RT Tom Compton $40, Morgan Moses $30, the field $30—If Moses had not suffered a Lisfranc injury late last season I would have at least $50 on him, probably more. But we’re not sure of his condition right now and if he is not going to be able to participate in OTAs and part of training camp his chances of winning the job go down. Compton was up and down last year and he could smooth out the rough spots if he works with the first unit during the offseason. That could make him tough for Moses to push out. As with the guard situation, McCloughan might not like what he sees and bring in a starter via the draft or free agency.

      Hail Skins!

      • Rich Tandler - Apr 7, 2015 at 7:24 PM

        Yep, nothing much has changed since then. Gruden was very vague about Moses’ injury rehab timetable so it’s hard to say. He might be able to miss OTAs and still be in the starting lineup Week 1 but if he’s not able to go 100% by the start of training camp his chances are very slim.

        We probably won’t know a whole lot about his condition until we get an OTA that’s open to the media, towards the end of May.

      • Skulb - Apr 7, 2015 at 11:18 PM

        Thanks for the reply. I had missed his injury for some reason and hadn`t heard anything in a while about Moses.

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