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Need to Know: Who will start at center for the 2016 Redskins?

Apr 10, 2016, 6:58 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 10, 18 days before the NFL Draft.


—The Redskins last played a game 91 days ago. It will be about 154 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 8; 2016 NFL draft 18; Redskins training camp starts 109

Hot topic

The Redskins’ starting offensive line appears to be mostly set. Trent Williams will be at left tackle. Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff will be on the right side. Left guard looks like it will be a three-way battle between Spencer Long, Shawn Lauvao (if healthy) and Arie Kouandjio.

The identity of the starting center is up in the air. Let’s break out the $100 in imaginary casino chips and wager on the chances of each of several candidates to be the Week 1 starting center.

Kory Lichtensteiger, $45—Everyone loves to complain about the veteran and call for him to be replaced. But the run blocking seemed to go south when he missed the last 12 games of the season last year. And, going back to 2011, the line also suffered when he missed the last 11 games with a knee injury. So although he’s not a threat to make the Pro Bowl the coaches trust him and it’s going to be hard to unseat him.

Josh LeRibeus, $20—His shotgun snaps improved as the season went on but it was a harrowing session of on the job training while he got it down. LeRibeus’ blocking improved as well but you’ll notice that they couldn’t wait to activate Lichtensteiger from short-term injured reserve as soon as they could.

Austin Reiter, $15—This is based mostly on talk around Redskins Park that the coaches like his potential. He didn’t seem to do anything particularly outstanding during training camp or in preseason games last year. They cut their seventh-round pick in the final cuts last summer and they didn’t sign him to the practice squad until a few weeks later. So they can’t like him all that much but he will get a good, long look.

Nick Martin (or other draft pick), $15—At the moment I think the chances of them drafting Alabama center Ryan Kelly are pretty remote. If they do, he’s the Week 1 starter. If they do draft a center I think they will take someone like Martin in the middle rounds. That player could claw his way to a starting job by Week 1 but it seems more likely that he will learn in the beginning, have a chance to work his way into the lineup during the season, and be penciled in as the starter in 2017.

Spencer Long, $5—I’ll include Long because the possibility as been discussed. He seems to struggle with the shotgun snaps like LeRibeus did so that’s one strike. I also think they’re going to want to keep him at left guard with Lauvao’s status up in the air so that’s another strike.

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  1. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 10, 2016 at 7:27 AM

    I think Nick Martin goes in the 2nd round, so that’s not cheap.

    Michigan’s Graham Glasgow should go later, but he’s gotten some buzz with the Senior Bowl so I doubt if he’ll last much past the 3rd.

  2. bk70 - Apr 10, 2016 at 8:32 AM

    I think the Redskins select center Ryan Kelly/Alabama with their first pick if the Colts (@18) don’t select him first.
    He will be the best player available and fill an long term need for the team. Kelly will be the starter in week 1.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 10, 2016 at 8:51 AM

      Since this is a betting post, I’m wagering three quatloos on Ryan Kelly not going in the 1st round.

    • abanig - Apr 10, 2016 at 9:22 AM

      He’s not a better player than the defensive players that will be available @ at 21

      • Trey Gregory - Apr 11, 2016 at 3:12 AM

        @Abanig: I couldn’t agree more. The Ryan Kelly hype train has gone off the rails. It’s a little ridiculous.

        Guys, there are some really, really good defensive line prospects that should be available at 21. Guys who would probably go a lot higher in other drafts (that aren’t so stacked at the position). We can get a lot of talent at 21 if we look at the correct position group.

        I have nothing against Kelly, but he’s not going to be the BPA. And the need isn’t that great. I’m perfectly happy going into the season as is with the OLine. We’ve invested a fifth overall, two thirds, and a fourth round pick in the line over the past two seasons. Plus Bill Callahan. Oh and we have a pro bowl left tackle. The line is good. Kory L really isn’t that bad. In fact, he’s about the definition of average. And we have other young guys who should be able to step up under Callahan’s instruction if necessary.

        Bigger needs: WR, DT/NT, RB, S, and CB. And nobody will convince me that Kelly would be the BPA if Reed, Billings, or Doctson are available.

        The danger of drafting for a perceived need like C is that we miss on a potentially special player, a difference maker down the road, just to plug a hole in someone’s chart. Then add in injuries and needs change all the time.

        • abanig - Apr 11, 2016 at 5:16 AM

          Agree 100

  3. abanig - Apr 10, 2016 at 9:21 AM

    $100 Kory L. He’s not as bad as most fans want to believe he is.

    When healthy, at worst Kory is average. The Redskins running game is light years better when he plays and he has the athleticism to get out on WR screens and RB screens and lead those players downfield. A lot of centers can’t do that.

  4. Greyeagle - Apr 10, 2016 at 9:33 AM

    Kory all the way

  5. colorofmyskinz - Apr 10, 2016 at 9:41 AM

    Sure Kory might be the best on the team… However, I am not particularly comfortable settling for best on the team – below average in the NFL. We never just bite the bullet and spend what is required to get someone that specializes in the position. We constantly think we can take an OK gaurd and make a great center.

    Jeff Bostic was our last true center. We need a true north center, not a converted ok guard.

    • bangkokben - Apr 10, 2016 at 11:44 AM

      This just is flat out not true. Lichtensteiger was a center moved to guard then back to center. Montgomery was center. Casey Rabach WAS a center – and a good one in comparison.

      As for Lichtensteiger, he’s older now and coming off both injury and poor performance. Did I mention his sizable contract? He has less than 50% chance of being the opening day starter. The only reason he would be is if the Redskins can’t find/develop someone better.

      • Trey Gregory - Apr 11, 2016 at 3:15 AM

        That’s the best argument I’ve hear so far against Kory being the starter. The contract combined with age and injury are a good point.

        The people who say he can’t play are just flat wrong. But it is time to look for his replacement. Just no need to panic and overdraft a replacement.

  6. smotion55 - Apr 10, 2016 at 4:06 PM

    I would go with Lichtensteiger if he were younger and the contract was smaller but at this point they could take Kelly and then take a couple of D-Linemen with the next 2 picks and I would be ok with that if the GM is good with that , but I also think there might be a Center on there list they will target later.
    I am curious as to where they rate Harvard’s OT Cole Toner for Center . He can play all of the line positions and is obviously smart. 6ft- 5in 305lb is what they would like in the middle.

  7. pyroman99 - Apr 10, 2016 at 4:47 PM

    Anybody but LeRib. If he hadn’t been drafted in the 3rd round (mistake!) he would have been gone. He’s a mediocre guard, and a worse center.

    • Trey Gregory - Apr 11, 2016 at 10:01 PM

      But isn’t he a solid backup? I completely understand not wanting him to start. But do you think we could do better than him as a backup? At his price? I’m not convinced we could without another high-ish draft pick. But I’m not sure we need to make that investment with Long, Scherff, Lauvau, and Kouandjo.

      I think the idea is to keep your picks and allow them to cycle through until they’re up for more money. If they’re a good player, resign them. If not, cut them. But if they’re good enough for depth, get along with the players and coaches, and come cheap: then resign them.

      I think teams get in cap trouble from cutting their draft picks too soon. Even if they were a higher pick that didn’t live up to the selection. If they can competently fill a backup role, then let them.

  8. wildbill1952 - Apr 10, 2016 at 7:49 PM

    Unless they draft someone, it’s Lichtensteiger. The reason the running game went south when he was out was the Skins went from a below average center in Lichtensteiger, to a poor center in Leribeus. Putting Long in is a stop gap measure since you have to have someone snap the ball. Whichever ‘L’ OLyou go with, center is a real position of need. The pocket collapses from the center backwards on pass plays, and the run game suffers because of them. I expect McCloughan to try to find a center in rounds 5 though 7, but this draft is as light on centers as it is heavy on defensive linemen. If you want raw strength and a guy who won’t start in year one (until Lich gets hurt) I’d look no further than Eric Boehm from Missouri. He weighs the same as the other top 5 centers but he’s 6’2″ which means he’s compact, and he is not going to be pushed back into the QB.. He is raw, but in 2 years, he’ll be a better center than Kelly or any of the others ranked above him in the draft. Question is, can you wait until the 4th round when you need a replacement center so badly? The Skins can get this guy in the thrid round, and they’d better. Drafting another 7th round center for camp fodder is not the right choice.

  9. Dan - Apr 11, 2016 at 4:00 PM

    I would take some money from Lichtensteiger and Leribeus and put $30 on Kelly.

  10. lorcanbonda - Apr 18, 2016 at 10:37 AM

    Barring injury, Lichtensteinger is going to start the first game. If they bring in a center (which I expect they will), then they are not as high on Reiter as this article suggests and they are concerned about the durability of Licht (which they should be.) A guard will be needed for third team.

    I just don’t see them taking Kelly or Martin. We have bigger needs on defense with likely players available in the first two rounds who can fill those needs (DT & DB). I’m favoring Boehm, but that would make Reiter obsolete (or a perennial practice squad/backup.)

    • Trey Gregory - Apr 18, 2016 at 12:32 PM

      Well, Reiter was a 7th round pick. That happens to 7th round picks.

      Not a bad idea to keep him around on the practice squad. Just in case. For all the reasons you listed above. Archives

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