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Monday, February 20, 2012
Redskins offensive line thoughts

By Dan Graziano

As he looks ahead to the scouting combine, Rich Tandler wonders if the Washington Redskins will be looking for guards. There is work to be done for Washington on the offensive line, and while Jammal Brown remains a question mark (health-wise, if nothing else) at right tackle, most of the focus seems to be on the interior. Per Rich at csnwashington.com:
Will Montgomery started 14 games at center in 2011 (he started the other two at left guard) and while he performed respectably, many believe that the team could do better. The thought is that they could move Kory Lichtensteiger from left guard to his natural position at center and then get a guard in the draft.

That plan is one of those that looks good on paper but may not work in reality. This draft is very thin at the guard position. Even though the Redskins’ zone blocking scheme can utilize players who might not be rated highly by other teams, it might be difficult to pluck an immediate starter at guard in this draft.

The last part of Rich's analysis is interesting. The Redskins are looking for a certain type of offensive lineman, and that could help them play a market that might not be as crowded with suitors looking for the same exact thing for which they're looking. The Eagles are a decent example. Not that they run a zone-blocking scheme, but Howard Mudd looks for specific types of linemen and was able to find a starting center, Jason Kelce, in the sixth round of last year's draft. The Redskins might be able to turn up a late-round gem that helps right away, assuming this is their plan.

But there are more questions than that. Lichtensteiger, for example, was playing very well before his injury, but he is coming off an injury and is an unrestricted free agent. He might be the answer at center, but he also might not be on the team. The sense I got around the Redskins' building when I was there in December was that they were fine with the way Montgomery played, but felt they could do better.

I doubt the Redskins make the interior of their offensive line a draft priority. I bet they have their eye on a free agent or two who they believe fits what they like to do. Chris Chester was a specific target of theirs last year (as was Marshal Yanda, whom they were unable to get), and I'm sure they have a list of free-agent targets ready to go this year. My hunch is that they make the line a priority in free agency, along with No. 1 wide receiver, and spend the early rounds of their draft on secondary players while looking for those zone-blocking specialists in the middle and late rounds. A hunch, like I said.