Redskins 2018 position outlook: Interior offensive linemen
Training camp opens in about three weeks and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming couple of weeks, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.
Interior offensive linemen
Departures: G Arie Kouandjio (preseason injured reserve)
Starters: C Chase Roullier, LG Shawn Lauvao, RG Brandon Scherff
Other roster locks: None
On the bubble: Tony Bergstrom, Tyler Catalina, Kyle Kalis
How the interior O-linemen compare
To the rest of the NFL: At age 26, Scherff may be at the point where he automatically gets voted into the Pro Bowl even if he doesn’t have a great year. Last year was one of those not-great years. He missed two games with knee problems and he struggled in a few others. Still, Scherff is in the upper tier in the NFL. Roullier could be very good, a solid red-chip player but with only seven starts under his belt, we will have to wait and see. As of now, Lauvao is the starter at left guard. When healthy he is an average to below average starter (see below) and health has been an issue as he has 22 missed games in last three years. The backups are the envy of no team. If Roullier plays well this still is an average group at best and if you believe in the weakest link theory, then left guard could be a fatal flaw.
To the 2017 Redskins: They should be better if only because they can’t get much worse. Seven different players occupied the three interior spots last year. Spencer Long, who started the season at center, played in only seven games. Roullier took over, broke his hand, and Bergstrom got three starts while he healed. Kouandjio had to play 22 snaps at right guard about 24 hours after being re-signed in Week 8. This is the quintessential case of having no place to go but up.
Biggest upside: In a deal that few noted at the time, the Redskins traded up in the sixth round to take Roullier. He learned the center position quickly. The plan was to have him redshirt last year and then possibly compete for a starting job in 2018. But injuries pushed him along faster and he is set as the starter this year. His pass blocking was solid, and he didn’t allow a sack in 457 snaps. Roullier does need to polish his run blocking technique.
Most to prove: Lauvao turns 31 in October and he is at a crossroads. He was fortunate that the Redskins didn’t sign or draft a guard, creating a need that they called on him to fill after most of free agency had passed by. A guard can stay employed in the NFL into his mid-thirties. But Lauvao needs to stay on the field and play better when he is there. Last year he played about half of the offensive snaps but still gave up 23 QB hurries, the second most on the team.
Rookie watch: There are no rookie interior O-linemen on the roster, which perhaps is an issue in and of itself.
Bottom line: Nobody would be surprised if the Redskins added a guard either before training camp or sometime during August. They will have 11 draft picks for 2019 if they get all four of the projected supplemental picks. They surely could spare one for a veteran guard in a year that, in Jay Gruden’s words, “is a one-year process and we have got to win right away.” If they can upgrade there, the offensive line, with its set of quality tackles, could be a strength.
Bill Callahan on Brandon Scherff:
His work ethic is off the charts . . . He’s a guy you just love to coach because you tell him on time and he’s got it. You can do a lot of different things with him because he has that type of versatility and that type of adaptability as well.
2018 position outlook series
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler.