2011 Redskins Roster Outlook: Offensive Line

Steve O Speak

Trent Williams: Williams is about the one good thing that has gone right for the Redskins this past season, and represents perhaps the only long term answer the Redskins brought in this past season. While I’d hesitate to label him as a true ‘franchise’ left tackle, he should be very good with the potential to get better. With Williams on board at least the Redskins have the most important offensive line position taken care of.

Jammal Brown: The Redskins traded for the former All-Pro tackle this past offseason and received mixed results. Now the Redskins will need to decide if it is worth investing big money into Brown to lock him up longterm as he is an unrestricted free agent. Brown who was recovering from a hip injury, struggled mightily this past season early on, and also missed some time due to injuries. Over the last 4-5 games Brown improved tremendously and looked close to his former All-Pro self. While Brown showed some improvement, I’d be leery of investing big money in him especially with other free agent options available.

Stephon Heyer: Heyer was once again forced into a good amount of work with both starting tackles (Williams and Brown) missing time with injury. Heyer continued to show that he has no business ever lining up as a LT, but did show improvement from the right side. Heyer also showed versatility by playing nearly an entire game at guard due to injury, but he doesn’t seem like a longterm option there. With Heyer making over a million dollars this past season, and headed for a raise the Redskins need to move on and find better, and cheaper backup offensive linemen.

Selvish Capers: Capers was a 7th round pick for the Redskins last season, after a strong career at West Virginia. He was considered raw, but possessing future starting potential. He has the athletic build that would seem to fit the Redskins zone-blocking scheme. On the downside for Capers he never made it off the Redskins practice squad this season despite, their concerns at OT. While he has a shot of making the roster, he isn’t an option as the RT for next season.

Xavier Fulton: Fulton was a raw but impressive OT prospect in the 2009 NFL draft, where he was selected in the 5th round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He suffered a torn ACL injury during the 2009 preseason and was placed on injured reserve. He was cut by the Buccaneers at the beginning of this past season and was a journeyman for the rest of the season. The Redskins signed him to their practice squad at the end of the year and signed him for a future contract for the coming season. While he has almost no chance of being a starter, he does have upside and deserves a shot to compete for a backup role.

Derrick Dockery: Dockery was a high priced free agent signing two years ago, but he doesn’t fit well into Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. He is under contract for three more years, and it isn’t a horrible deal so the Redskins could look to trade him, but the return won’t be great. If they can’t work out a deal, I’m sure the Redskins will cut him so they can save some money.

Artis Hicks: Hicks represents the Redskins biggest free agent signing last year (which is emblematic of why this team is so bad), to compete for a starting job at guard, and be a backup tackle. While Hicks wasn’t horrible, he also didn’t show himself to be a capable starting offensive lineman this season. He is under contract for two more seasons, but he could be cut or traded, as he could save the Skins $1.5 million, that could be invested in a better replacement. If he does stick around he is no better than a backup offensive lineman and should by no means start next season.

Kory Lichtenstieger: Lichtenstieger was originally drafted by Shanahan with the Broncos a couple of seasons ago, and the Redskins brought him in to compete for an interior line job. He took over as the starting guard from Dockery early in the season, but the results were not pretty. Lichtenstieger struggled all season against bigger defensive tackles and blitzes up the middle. Not only did he blow plenty of blocking assignments, but he committed costly penalties. He could get a look as the starting center, but I’m not sure he will be any better there. If he is starting next season at guard the Redskins will have a major hole in their offensive line.

Will Montgomery: Montgomery, like Lichtenstieger wasn’t a starter at the beginning of the year, but ended the season as Washington’s starting guard. Montgomery is a solid backup center/guard, and could get a look as the starting center, but he really isn’t cut out to be a 16 game guard. Montgomery at his best is league average, meaning that even if he wins the starting center role the Redskins will be weak in the middle.

Erik Cook: Cook was another Redskins 7th round pick this past season. He can play either center or guard, but didn’t make the team out of training camp. He was on the practice squad until the very end of the season, but didn’t really make an impact on the Redskins. He will likely be in the mix for their open competition at guard(s) and center, but doesn’t seem like a real starting option for next season.

Casey Rabach: Rabach has been the Skins starting center for the last couple of seasons, but it became very apparent that he can no longer play at a starting level. Rabach had a horrible year for the Redskins this past season, and is pretty much guaranteed to be released this offseason.

Analysis: The Redskins have just one capable starter heading into next season, and they can’t hope to compete unless they improve (big time) at two positions (at least). While Brown could be an option to resign, he represents a risk and even when he played well the Redskins offense still struggled. He will need to improve greatly to be worth the investment, so the Skins could look to go in a different direction.

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