-The Redskins moved guard Kory Lichtensteiger over to the center position this offseason, but that looks like more of a stopgap option than anything else. Lichtensteiger was the most undersized guy on the Redskins offensive line last year and he struggled to win at the point of attack. Moving him to center isn’t likely to increase his ability to be a quality blocker and he’s likely to be a major liability once again. Given how much pressure up the middle was a problem for the Redskins last year, they have to look for a long term fix for this position. Lichtensteiger’s also has a contract that grossly overpays him for his level of play, so if the Redskins can find a long term option they could look to cut Lichtensteiger next offseason to clear him off the books.
–Trent Williams has developed into a top 5 offensive tackle in the league, and for the first half of the season last year he was arguably the best tackle in the NFL. His bookend at right tackle Tyler Polumbus, has not been nearly as effective these past two seasons and has become a liability for the Redskins. His play was probably better in 2013 than 2012, but he’s not a guy who should be considered a set starter at right tackle. With the Redskins having a young quarterback with an injury history at the helm, they can’t afford to have subpar production from the right tackle spot. Though the position gets ignored too often by NFL teams, it’s more an more important as defenses are constantly adding quality pass rushers to attack that side. Polumbus is in the final year of his contract, and the Redskins could look to add an early right tackle to take over is job.
-The Redskins are reshuffling their offensive line and have moved left guard Kory Lichtensteiger to center, to replace him they signed guard Shawn Lauvao from the Browns. While Lauvao is considered a lock to start at one guard position, it might not end up being in the left guard spot. Right guard Chris Chester is coming off a really down season, and the Redskins could save $7.5 million over the next two seasons by releasing him. That is a lot of money that the Redskins can clear off the books, and it would go a long way to keeping a healthy cap for next season. Behind Chester right now the Redskins have journeyman offensive lineman Mike McGlynn, who has some starting experience both at guard and center, and 3rd year players Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis. McGlynn is probably best as the top back-up interior lineman, and should only be a starter if the Redskins can’t find a better option. LeRibeus has been a bust thus far in his NFL career and doesn’t look like a guy ready to take over a starting role anytime soon. Gettis was picked two rounds after LeRibeus and is probably the better of the two 3rd year players, but he to isn’t a good bet for a starting job. If a quality guard is available early in the draft the Redskins could pick him up, which would allow them to dump Chester to save all of that money.
–Jordan Reed burst onto the scene last year and showed the potential to be one of the best pass catching tight ends in the league if he can stay healthy. Unfortunately the health factor became a real concern, as he dealt with numerous small injuries during the year and then missed significant time due to a concussion. Reed had some injury concerns while at Florida, so there is a concern that this was more than just bad luck or a fluke. If Reed is healthy he’s clearly the top tight end and a guy with the ability to lineup all over the field. Behind Reed the Redskins are left with Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul. Paulsen is supposed to be more of the inline tight end type, who excels at blocking, but last season his blocking ability was streaky at best. Given that he’s among the higher paid number two tight ends, Paulsen needs to be more consistent to ensure his job is safe. Niles Paul makes a solid effort and is an average blocker, but his real value to the roster is in his special teams ability. Even if Reed’s health wasn’t a serious question mark, adding another tight end was an option, considering how much Jay Gruden used two tight end sets with the Bengals. If the right guy is available in the early rounds the Redskins could jump on him.
–Alfred Morris is the clear cut starting running back and feature back of this team. Behind him the Redskins have a very capable back in Roy Helu, who would probably compete for a starting role on more than a few teams in the league. Helu is a solid 3rd down back option and back-up for the Redskins. Beyond Morris and Helu though the Redskins depth is pretty thin. Evan Royster and 2nd year back Chris Thompson are both on the depth chart, but neither inspires much confidence going forward. Given the injury risk at this position and the fact that Helu is entering the final year of his rookie deal, the Redskins could consider a mid-to-late round back to bolster this position. Likely it will be more of a quicker back with some catching ability to balance out Morris.
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-The Redskins are set at the top of their quarterback depth chart with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins occupying the top two spots. Colt McCoy was signed for the 3rd quarterback role, but he’s just a short term option there. With the Redskins likely willing to at least explore trading Kirk Cousins over the next year, the Redskins could consider taking a late round flier on a guy, or signing a priority undrafted free agent for depth purposes. Unless Cousins gets dealt, the Redskins are likely looking for someone they can stash on their practice squad for a season.
-Wide Receiver was a much bigger need before the start of free agency as the Redskins were set to return only three receivers who had any experience. Those receivers were top starter Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson. While Garcon was clearly a good piece as he led the NFL in receptions a year ago, Hankerson and Robinson left a lot to be desired. Hankerson was an average starter so the Redskins could have looked to upgrade from him this offseason regardless, but their decision was made easier by the fact that he suffered a late season ACL injury. Robinson has been a solid depth receiver, but when given extra playing time he hasn’t shown any ability to take over a more significant role. The Redskins have filled their receiver need though by bringing in quality veterans DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts to long term deals. Jackson, like Garcon is a top 20 WR in the league, and Roberts has proven himself to be a good starter as well. In addition the Redskins brought back veteran Santana Moss on a one year deal for depth. With their top 3 WR’s all locked up for the next three years the Redskins have this position group covered for both the short and long term. They could still look to add a wide receiver later in the draft, but this is a very low priority position for the Redskins at this point.