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Handicapping the Back-up Offensive Linemen Position Battle

Steve Shoup

Now for the purpose of this exercise we will assume that the starting offensive line is LT Trent Williams, LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, RT Jammal Brown. We will also assume that both the starters and the back-ups are fully healthy and no one is a candidate for the PUP list or IR. Finally we will also assume that the Redskins will keep four back-ups. Obviously things could go a different way, but keeping four back-ups is smart given Lichtensteiger is recovering from an injury and both Trent Williams and Jammal Brown seem to have nagging injury issues. Also, with drafting three offensive linemen in the draft it would indicate they are more likely to keep 4 back-ups.

G Josh LeRibeus- LeRibeus was the Redskins 3rd round pick this April out of SMU. He was a pick that was greeted with mixed fanfare as he filled a need position, but was widely considered a reach by most scouting services who had him rated 1-3 rounds later. The Redskins hopefully have a better feel with this pick though he isn’t the most ideal zone blocking lineman. Given his draft status though, he will be given every opportunity to succeed and he is probably going to be given first crack at the LG job if Kory Lichtensteiger isn’t fully recovered. I consider him a near lock to make the team and say that he has a 90% chance of making it.

T/G Tyler Polumbus– Polumbus is a former undrafted free agent out of Colorado. He was originally signed by Mike Shanahan in Denver and performed well enough to make the 53 man squad as a rookie, where he played special teams. Since his first year in Denver he’s continued to play special teams will amassing 19 starts these last three years for Denver, Seattle and Washington. Though primarily a tackle, he did start one game at guard last year showing a little versatility. Now he’s not the type of back-up that you’d ever project to be a starting caliber guy, but he could carve out a niche as a solid depth option. He fits well in and knows the zone blocking scheme which also gives him a leg up on the competition. I think with some of the questions at tackle, and a rookie quarterback at the helm, Mike Shanahan will very much want a veteran back-up option here. I say Polumbus has an 80% chance of making it.

G Adam Gettis- Gettis was the Redskins 5th round pick out of Iowa this past year. He ended up really only being a one year starter at Iowa due to injury, but he made the most out of that year. He was named 2nd team All-Big Ten by the coaches and multiple publications and was well recognized on his own team. Gettis was the star of the scouting combine, showcasing impressive athleticism and footwork. He is the perfect size for a zone blocking scheme, which he ran some at Iowa under Kirk Ferentz (who has a strong reputation in producing NFL talent). Overall he’s a bit raw, given just that single year of starting, but I still like his odds for making the team. I think Gettis’s upside (which some see as even higher than LeRibeus) will put him on this roster, which makes me think he has a 70% chance of making it.

T Tom Compton- Compton was the Redskins 6th round pick out of South Dakota this past year. Similar to Josh LeRibeus he really flashed his potential at the East -West Shrine Game, and showed that he could play at the NFL level. Compton is a guy who was a bit under the radar playing at South Dakota, but he was a 4 year starter in college, and probably would have been a 3 year starter even if he played at a bigger university. He’s got good size and a nice frame, while showcasing solid athleticism. His best projection is to develop into a starting RT, though he probably needs a year or two before he is fully ready for that role. He does have tremendous work ethic though, that if pressed into service he could probably do a solid job even as a rookie. Compton is fighting stiff competition at the bottom of the roster here, but I think he has the edge given some of his potential. I say he’s got a 55% chance of making it.

T-Willie Smith: Smith made the Redskins roster as an undrafted free agent last season out of ECU. He was considered a raw prospect with some starting potential down the road. Through much of the season despite injuries to both starting offensive tackles, the Redskins kept him on the sideline (in fact kept him mostly inactive). That changed the final 4 weeks of the season when Trent Williams was suspended. Smith was given a chance to start and flashed some potential. It was a nice four game trial period, and while he showed some upside he also proved to be unready for the big leagues. In just 151 pass blocking snaps he gave up 3 sacks, and 17 combined hits and pressures (which is pretty bad). Even if you figure that over the course of the season he might be able to cut those numbers down by 20%, it would be a pretty bad year. For Smith to make it, he will have to show marked improvement this year in camp, and continue to flash starting potential. In the end I think he’s fighting Compton for a roster spot (there are some possibilities where they kept both) and i think his chances are at about 45%.

G/T Maurice Hurt– Hurt was a 7th round draft pick out of Florida last year. He didn’t even make the team at the start of the season, but was called up to the active roster after Kory Lichtensteiger went down with injury. After a couple of weeks he took over as the starting LG. While there were a few games where he played solid, for the most part Hurt struggled, which was a big reason why the Redskins added a pair of guards in the draft. In camp Hurt is back to working at tackle to increase his versatility, but obviously the Redskins have added there as well. I think he’s facing long odds to make the team and will need to have a great camp for any real shot of a spot. Given that he does have some experience I’ll say he’s still got a 20% chance, but even that could be a stretch.

As for the rest of the linemen such as James Lee, Erik Cook and the other UDFA’s, I think they are all extreme longshots, and have under a 10% chance of making it without a major rash of injuries. What do you guys think, who will make up the 4 back-up spots along the offensive line?

 

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