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Big O-linemen may be in short supply in NFL draft

Big O-linemen may be in short supply in NFL draft

Stop me if you’ve heard this before—Scot McCloughan likes big offensive linemen. Big guys beat little guys in football, especially in the late going when the power running game becomes important. But big offensive linemen are getting harder to come by.

McCloughan saw the issue coming a while ago and talked about it at the 2010 NFL Combine. “The one thing about the offensive line nowadays is the game's changed a lot in college with the spread offense,” he said. “The big power guys, the guys that come off (the line) and drive block and all that - you don't see that any more in college. You see more finesse, more pass protection.”

A look at the NFL draft prospects along the offensive line this year bears this out. The CBS Sports NFL draft site lists 70 offensive tackles as possible draft prospects. Only 17 of the tackles are listed at 320 pounds or more. Of that group, three are evaluated as first-or second-round picks—Brandon Scherff of Iowa (320 lb.), Ereck Flowers of Miami of Florida (324), and Jeremiah Poutasi of Utah (321). Eight of them are rated as eight late third-day picks or free agent pickups.

The quantity of guards weighing 320 or more is higher compared to the tackles but the quality isn’t quite as good. CBS lists 55 guards as prospects and 23 of them are 320 or heavier. In that group, Laken Thompson of Duke (323) and Tré Jackson of Florida State (323) are rated as second-rounders and Jackson’s teammate Josue Matias (325) has a third-round grade. Of the rest, 18 are seventh round or free agent types.

What’s possibly worse for a GM in search of big linemen is that the weights given before the NFL Combine are usually their weights as listed by their college sports information departments. Those can tend to be exaggerated somewhat. We will get the true weights next month in Indianapolis and they number of players who really are over 320 could drop.

In the past McCloughan’s teams have drafted linemen who were on the light side but had the build to bulk up in the NFL. Considering his field of possible offensive line picks will be whittled down even more through film evaluation and background and character checks he may be looking for players who can add on weight.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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