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How can the Redskins build a Super Bowl quality O-line?

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How can the Redskins build a Super Bowl quality O-line?

The Redskins have needed to improve their offensive line since the last rendition of the Hogs broke up over 20 years ago. The team has had some solid individual linemen in that time but the unit has never been up to the quality that it was during the Super Bowl glory years from 1982-1991.

How can the Redskins build a Super Bowl offensive line? To figure that out it might be good to take a look at how the offensive lines of the two teams that in the Super Bowl were built. Here’s a look at the expected starters in the Super Bowl and the starters who finished up the 2014 season for the Redskins.

Interior line

Seahawks: C Max Unger (round 2/2009) missed 10 regular season games with injuries but he appears to be back in form for the playoffs. He has two Pro Bowls and one All-Pro on his resume. RG J. R. Sweezy (7/2012) was a late-round pickup who has paid off with 31 starts in the last two years. The Seahawks picked LG James Carpenter (1/2011) in the first round in 2011 but injuries have had him in and out of the lineup.

Patriots: Rookie C Bryan Stork (4/2014) missed the AFC title game with a knee injury but should be back for the Super Bowl. LG Dan Connolly (UDFA) came into the league undrafted and was picked up off the street by the Patriots in 2008. He has started 71 games for them since then. RG Ryan Wendell (UDFA) made the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2008 and has been their starting guard for the past three seasons.

Redskins: The Broncos drafted C Kory Lichtensteiger (4/2008), who sat out a season in between being cut loose by Denver and picked up by the Redskins. LG Shawn Lauvao (3/2010) was drafted by the Browns and signed by the Redskins as a free agent in 2014. The Redskins signed Ravens draft pick RG Chris Chester (2/2006) as a free agent in 2011.

Tackles

Seahawks: The Redskins took a real hard look at LT Russell Okung (1/2010) in 2010 but they took Trent Williams instead. Seattle took RT Justin Britt (2/2014) with the last pick of the second round and he started all 16 games this year as a rookie.

Patriots: RT Sebastian Vollmer (2/2009) has been the designated starter most of the time he has been in New England but he has missed 20 games due to injuries in the past four years. The Patriots got the pick the used to draft LT Nate Solder (1/2011) from the Raiders in exchange for DL Richard Seymour.

Redskins: The Redskins’ decision to go with Williams over Okung has paid off so far. Okung has been a solid player but Williams just went to his third Pro Bowl (one for Okung) and his missed six games due to injuries in five seasons (Okung has missed 21). RT Tom Compton (6/2012) took over as the starter this year in midseason.

Bottom line

Between the two teams in the Super Bowl there are three first-round picks (including both left tackles), three second-rounders, one each from the fourth and seventh rounds, and two undrafted players. Only one, Connolly (four games with the Jaguars in 200, ever appeared in a game for another team.

The Redskins start first- and sixth-round picks of their own plus three players who were drafted by and played for other teams.

So it seems apparent that spending high draft picks on the line will help, especially at the tackle position. But the Patriots starting a fourth round pick and two undrafted players in the interior should be instructive as well. The two undrafted guards for the Patriots took their time to develop but the patience has paid off. The fact that the Patriots felt good enough about their undrafted guards that they were willing to trade six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins before the season started speaks volumes about how they develop their line.

It should be noted that the lines for the Patriots and particularly the Seahawks aren’t generally viewed as particularly strong. But they give their quarterbacks enough time to throw and create enough running room for the backs to be effective and, most importantly, they are still playing. I think the Redskins would be pretty happy with a group that could do that.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.