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Redskins fan mailbag: Evaluating the O-line

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Redskins fan mailbag: Evaluating the O-line

Welcome to this week's fan mailbag with your questions about the Washington Redskins. Remember you can hit me with a question at any time on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN or on the Real Redskins Facebook page. Let's jump right into your questions:
@Rich_TandlerCSN do you think well see changes on the oline this year?

— adam (@adam19b) November 12, 2013
This was one of several questions about the offensive line and I have to say that I don't get it. The Redskins are third in the NFL in rushing and second in average yards per carry. Robert Griffin III has been sacked 18 times. Only five other NFL teams have allowed fewer sacks. I'm not sure what else you want out of a line short of preventing sacks and helping the running backs gain yardage. Have they had some bad games? Sure they have, including the one in Dallas and the most recent one in Minnesota (which I suspect is prompting all of the questions today). Should they look seriously this offseason at going younger and cheaper and having Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus (assuming he shows up in shape), and Tom Compton legitimately have a chance to compete for a job? Certainly they should. But the O-line is not a dumpster fire in need of immediate attention as many of you seem to believe that it is.
@Rich_TandlerCSN 29th ‰ Skins d, and Haslett ranked 21st or worse every year since 01. http://t.co/CEWDAvAhLH any accountability next year?

— Prem Iyer (@premiyerx) November 12, 2013
It looks like my friend Prem, like many others, is asking if Jim Haslett will be back next year. And I hate to disappoint you all by saying that is still to be determined. We have almost half of the season to go and if the defense turns things around like it did last year, it's very likely that, despite the historic record that Prem points out, he will be back. That's not set in stone; regardless of the finish, if Mike Shanahan believes that he has to jettison Haslett in order to save his job he likely will do so.

The wide receiver corps will need bodies, no question about it. Santana Moss is unlikely to return and Josh Morgan would have to give a massive hometown discount if he is going to stay and compete for a job. They might look in the draft for some talent but free agency also is a possibility. However, I wouldn't look for them to go after the specific players you mention. Nicks hasn't been healthy for two year now. Now that Britt is managing to stay out of jail he can't catch a cold. And Bowe signed a long-term deal with the Chiefs earlier this year. I'd look for some lesser names to be pursued by the Redskins.
@Rich_TandlerCSN If Orakpo continues to be underwelming at his position, is he a member of the Skins next year?

— Lombardi_trophy 2 DC (@readytowinitall) November 12, 2013
First thing to say here is that while I don't think that the ratings on Pro Football Focus are the last word by any means, but they do have some merit and PFF has Orakpo ranked as the Redskins' best defender and it's not really close. Disappointing sack numbers notwithstanding, there is no reason the Redskins would not welcome him back. And there's no reason why Orakpo wouldn't want to come back. The multi-million dollar question will be if they can agree on what fair compensation for him will be. If I had to guess right now I think that they'll be able to come up with a deal that neither side is completely happy with but that both will be able to live with. But that's far from a sure thing.

I'll roll the half dozen or so Nick Williams questions into this one. Yes, I think there is a very good chance that Williams will be active on Sunday against the Eagles and that he will be deep when the Eagles punt. How will be do? Sorry, can't tell you that. His only preseason return was a 29-yard effort so that has to be considered a good sign. But they don't run live punt returns during training camp and we can't see the walkthroughs they do in practice at Redskins Park. We will all have to find out together. If he catches the ball cleanly and doesn't go backwards, he will at least not be a downgrade compared to what they have been putting out there.

One more question rolling up many. I picked this one because of the last part is something that nobody else asked. I have heard that Bruce Allen is not going anywhere regardless of what happens to Mike Shanahan. The fates of the two are not intertwined. As to Shanahan, I think a lot depends on how this season finishes out. If the Redskins can get to, say, 8-8 or thereabouts I think Shanahan gets a one- or two-year extension. If the Redskins win a few more games but still end up with double-digit losses I think that an extension becomes very problematic. If the team collapses are there are signs that Shanahan is losing the locker room, all bets on the coach's future are off.

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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Offensive line

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Offensive line

The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts on Thursday. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.

This series started on defense and you can see all those posts here. On offense we’ve put the wide receivers, running backs and tight ends under the microscope. Today the focus turns to the offensive line.

2016 final game starters: (left to right) Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Spencer Long, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses

Due to some injuries and a four-game Williams suspension, this group started only seven games together.

Departures: C John Sullivan (UFA), C Kory Lichtensteiger (retired)

Sullivan signed after some early season injuries and he started one game. He was a good security blanket for Jay Gruden, who liked having an experienced backup for the middle of the line.

Lichtensteiger missed a combined 24 games in 2015-2016. He may not have been back even he had not decided to retire.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

Projected 2017 starters: (left to right) Williams, Lauvao, Long, Scherff, Moses

The one spot in any doubt is left guard. Lauvao is in the final year of his contract with a $4 million salary. Jay Gruden has expressed confidence in him but a guard drafted in the first few rounds this week could change all of that.

Moses and Long are in the final seasons of their contracts so they may need a succession plan in place at their positions.

2017 reserves: G: Arie Kouandjio, Ronald Patrick; T Ty Nsekhe, Isaiah Williams, Vinston Painter, John Kling, Kevin Bowen

The glaring hole here is at center. With Sullivan and Lichtensteiger gone they don’t have anyone for the middle of the line if Spencer Long is out. They could try to find one in the draft but it’s possible that they will be on the lookout for a veteran on the waiver wire between now and Week 1.

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

Nsekhe is one of the best backup tackles in the league and the Redskins will be happy to have him even if he doesn’t play a single snap. Painter was on the roster for 13 games and he played just 10 snaps on offense.

Kouandjio is the only solid backup at guard and he could push for Lauvao’s starting job. If he wins the job and the team doesn’t want to pay Lauvao $4 million to be a backup, the Redskins will need a couple of guards for depth. Look for one or two to come their way in Rounds 3-5 this week.

Where can the offensive line find improvement?

The left guard spot was the weak link on the chain last year. Lauvao was charged with 32 QB hurries, by far the most on the team. Whether it’s Lauvao becoming fully healthy (a 2015 ankle injury limited him for the offseason program last year) or Kouandjio or another starter from the draft, the position has to be better in 2017.

Another factor that will help is Trent Williams being available for 16 games. Yes, Nsekhe is a very good backup. But in four starts Nsekhe allowed a sack plus 13 pressures. Williams started 12 games and allowed two sacks and 14 pressures. They are paying Williams $11.25 million this year for a reason.

Locks and bubble players

Trent Williams, Long, Scherff, Moses and Nsekhe are locks. Lauvao and Kouandjio are close but the draft could have an impact on them.

Out of the bubble players it would seem that Painter has the best shot of sticking simply because he was in the program last year. Bowe and Kling are huge and they are long shots who will draw interest if they can use their size.

The chances of any of the bubble players will be affected by the draft. There could be some fun competitions down the depth chart in training camp.

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.

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NFL Draft Countdown: 5 questions for Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell

NFL Draft Countdown: 5 questions for Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell

Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell will speak to the media on Monday, and there are plenty of questions as Washington prepares for the draft on Thursday.

Some of the most important topics will not be about what college players the 'Skins will target, but rather the state of the front office since the ouster of former general manager Scot McCloughan. That said, Campbell plays a huge role in draft decisions, and it will be quite interesting to inquire on strategy. 

Below are five questions for Campbell:

  1. What now - With McCloughan gone, what, if any, changes have happened in the front office? Does Campbell have more control or input on player selection? 
  2. Final say - Again, with McCloughan gone, who makes the final call on players? Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden made very clear during NFL League Meetings a few weeks back that a composite of Redskins officials work to establish a grade for each draft prospect. The team then drafts based on those grades. But eventually, the team will be forced to deviate from the draft board or make a decision on two players with similar grades. Who makes the final call?
  3. Need or talent - Redskins fans tend to grow frustrated at the suggestion of taking the best player available in the NFL Draft, but that is also the methodology the franchise has employed. That system delivered first-round picks of a guard in 2015 and a receiver in 2016; neither position had great need. Washington most needs help on its defensive line, and the defensive side of the ball overall.
  4. Sweet 17 - The entire draft is an opportunity for the 'Skins to add talent, but no pick carries as much potential as the 17th overall. The speculation is wild about what player might land with the Burgundy and Gold, and the rumors will only build this week. Is a running back in play? Haason Reddick? Could off-field concerns drop Reuben Foster to 17? 
  5. Another arm - Washington has Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy and Nate Sudfeld under contract in 2017. After that, however, Cousins could be gone. Will the 'Skins look to add another passer, perhaps on Friday or Saturday in the later rounds? If they do, it's unlikely the team will carry four QBs this fall, so a decision could accompany that pick.
  6. Trading places - Might a trade be in the works? Last year the Skins made a number of trades over the course of the three-day draft, and it's likely more deals get worked out this week in Philadelphia. Does that mean a mega-trade that includes Cousins? Probably not. But it would not be a surprise if the franchise traded down in the first round, like they did in 2016. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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