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Need to Know: How many changes on the Redskins' OL in 2015?

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Need to Know: How many changes on the Redskins' OL in 2015?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 15, three days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL assemble in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

This is going to make people mad so I’ll get it out of the way right off the bat—the coaching staff does not believe that the offensive line is the five-alarm dumpster fire that most fans seem to believe it is. Yes, there were too many sacks but the blame for many of them was on the quarterbacks, particularly Robert Griffin III and Colt McCoy, and the tight ends and running backs. As far as running the ball, they averaged 4.2 yards per carry, which is the NFL average.

Before you go straight down to the comments second and start angrily pounding on your keyboard, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be changes, even though every starter that finished the 2014 season is still under contract (technically, Tom Compton is an exclusive rights free agent but he is likely to be back since he has no other options). It’s just not going to be the wholesale changes that many out there want.

Trent Williams is not going anywhere. At under 300 pounds, Kory Lichtensteiger may not be the big body that Scot McCloughan would like to see in there in the long term. But with other issues throughout the roster and as well as Steiger played last year replacing him is a low priority.

In between those two is Shawn Lauvao and he is likely to maintain his starting job. He is more comfortable in a power-blocking scheme and indications are that the Redskins will switch away from being a zone-based team to more of that power blocking. Besides, cutting him would create $3 million in dead cap so he will stick around another year.

It is the right side where changes seem most likely to take place. It’s hard to see them paying 32-year-old Chris Chester $4 million in salary and bonuses and have Spencer Long, last year’s third-round draft pick, ride the pine for another year. If they aren’t confident in Long, they likely will find someone else who is younger and cheaper in this year’s draft.

Does Compton start at right tackle? He’ll be in the mix but I think that either a mid-range free agent or Morgan Moses, if his Lisfranc injury heals in time for camp, could end up starting in September.

What about draft picks? I don’t see them taking an offensive lineman with their first-round pick. If they take a guard or tackle in the second, he could have a shot at starting. Any linemen picked from the third round on is likely to spend the year watching and learning, barring an injury.

Timeline

—It’s been 49 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 210 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 23; Redskins offseason workouts start 64; 2015 NFL Draft 74

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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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.

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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.