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.