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Redskins draft to replenish an aging offensive line

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Redskins draft to replenish an aging offensive line

The Redskins have one of the older starting offensive lines in the NFL and to respond to that the organization did something that it hasn’t done at all in 20 years and only twice since 1980—they selected two offensive linemen in the first three rounds of the draft.

Both tackle Morgan Moses and guard Spencer Long were third-round picks. The Redskins haven’t taken two offensive lineman in the first three rounds of the draft since 1994, when they took guard Tré Johnson and tackle Joe Patton in the second and third rounds, respectively. They also did it in 1981 with better results, getting Mark May in the first round and Russ Grimm in the third.

Jay Gruden has talked about the line getting bigger but he hasn’t talked much about age. But, according to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Redskins’ projected starting five of Trent Williams (25 as of today), Shawn Lauvao (26), Kory Lichtensteiger (29), Chris Chester (31), and Tyler Polumbus (29) is the sixth oldest in the NFL with an average age of 28.

Having an older offensive line isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Of the teams with the 10 oldest lines going into 2014, five made the playoffs in 2013—the Patriots (oldest average at 29.2 years), Eagles, Chargers, Broncos, and Saints.

But if your line or a good chunk of it gets old all at once, you could have some issues. In the 1980’s the Redskins were able to replace aging and injured Hogs through the draft and moves like the trade for a 25-year-old Jim Lachey in 1988. However, when the core of the line grew old in the early 1990’s, when Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic, and Grimm could no longer get it done, there were no replacements in place and the team went into decline.

Average age relative to the rest of the league does not tell the whole story but it’s a good big-picture look. If the Redskins at some point this season start Long (23 years old) in place of Chester and Moses (23) in place of Polumbus, the average age of their starters would drop from 28 to 25.2. That would tie them with the Steelers and Seahawks for the fifth-youngest line in the league.

We will see if Moses and Long end up as starters this year and if they work out in the long run. But the commitment to improving the line is there and that’s a good start.

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.