Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin next Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
Up today …
Offensive line to-do list
Tandler: While the coaches love to talk about competition at every position there isn’t much here. Perhaps Arie Kouandjio will push Shawn Lauvao for the starting job at left guard but Lauvao is still a strong favorite to start Week 1.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty for Bill Callahan’s group to do over the next month. For one thing, they need to improve their run blocking. While over the course of the season they were adequate as the running backs gained an average of 4.5 yards per carry, ninth in the NFL, but they didn’t get it done down the stretch. They averaged under three yards per carry in three of the last six games. The Redskins went 0-3 in those games when a win in any of them would have gained them a playoff spot.
They are limited in what they can do because of the no-contact rules during OTAs and minicamp. But they can work on gelling as a unit. Callahan will undoubtedly have his group staying out late after practice is over (he even held an overtime session in rookie camp) and get them to refine their footwork, hand use, and other techniques they need to perform at peak efficiency when they put the pads on.
Finlay: Looking at data provided by Pro Football Focus, Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses ranked as the top three run blockers on the Redskins in 2016. No surprises there: Williams and Scherff earned Pro Bowl honors last season and Moses found himself getting a five-year contract extension. Elsewhere on the line, the data doesn't look as good. Lauvao and Spencer Long both rated as a negative in the run game. Long is still learning his center spot, but Lauvao simply must be better.
One overlooked area that could help the Redskins run game: better blocking from the tight end position. Rookie Jeremy Sprinkle could immediately provide a boost. At 6-foot-5 and 252 lbs., Sprinkle will be the biggest tight end on the roster and he's coming from the University of Arkansas that focused very much on the run game. Sprinkle should come in for the Redskins jumbo package, when the team deploys three tight ends, and could spell Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis in other run situations.
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