Training Camp Preview; Can The Hogs 2.0 Be As Good As The Original Version?

The offensive line is arguably the most significant position group in the history of the Washington Redskins. The Hogs 1.0 of the late 80’s and early 90’s were a key part of three Super Bowl championship teams. But the franchise has nightly struggled with inconsistency since. The team recently decided to hire their best offensive line positional coaches for the first time since Joe Bugel.  The current offensive line coach Bill Callahan has been charged with the task of getting the most out of our young and developing offensive line. The team also has finally invested some draft capital into a position group that has struggled in recent years. With Callahan's coaching, the Hogs 2.0 have a the potential this year to be as good as the originals.

The past two off-seasons, the front office/GM by committee has made some key moves to preserve the core of that offensive line and deserves some praise (did I really just write that?). The team has its best player and anchor of the offensive line, Trent Williams,  under contract for four more years after signing an extension last summer. They also re-signed the Right Tackle Morgan Moses on a five-year deal. In addition, they brought back a key role player from 2016, Ty Nsekhe. Bruce Allen and Eric Schaeffer will have some similar decisions to make after this off-season with center Spencer Long scheduled to become a free agent and guard Brandon Scherrf in need of an extension. Depending how those two play this year, one decent deal and considering Scherrfs early success, he could arguably get a deal at the top of the RG market. The weak link is at the LG position, where Shaun Lauvao somehow remains on the roster, despite a large contract and struggling with injuries that lead to poor play for most of the season.

Lets take a deeper look with my projected starters, starting from the left side of the line to the right.

Left Tackle- Trent Williams (6 5 320  AGE: 29)

A top-five pick from the 2010 NFL Draft, Trent Williams could be the most gifted athlete on the team. Williams goes by the nickname the "Silverback" and it’s easy to see why. To be that big (6’5”, 320) and move that quickly, the man is a freak. Williams is a five-time Pro Bowler and last year he was voted All-Pro. He was ranked #47 on the players Top 100 list and I would have put him higher. Tyron Smith is great but Trent Williams is better. Having a player the caliber of Williams almost made me forget about being forced to watch Stephon Heyer play the same position. Williams is on the path to being the new Head Hog and will be the best left tackle in Redskins history, sorry George Starke. Don’t expect him to move to LG anytime soon either.

Shaun Lauvao Left Guard (6’3” 315 AGE: 29)

Lauvao is going into his 4th year as a Redskin and each year, he surprises me by holding onto his job and remaining the starter. That just goes to show how much the Jay Gruden and the coaching staff likes what Lauvao brings to the group. A better run blocker than he is a pass protector; Lauvao has a tendency to lunge at defenders and it allows more shifty defenders to create pressure because of it. To his credit, he is a much better player when he is healthy, but that’s been an in issue for him. Lauvao has not yet played a full season for the team and in the last two years he has missed 15 games. I had high hopes that Arie Kouandijo would push for Lauvaos spot in 2016, but that never materialized.

Spencer Long- Center (6'5" 318 AGE: 26)

Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft Long is still learning the nuances of the position. However I expect Long to have a breakout year. With another year in the system learning the calls and protections, Long should improve on his performance last year; which was his first full year at Center in which he started 12 games. He looks like he has been hitting the weights hard and added some muscle this year too via his Twitter account.  At age 26 Long is another young player that is blossoming under the tutelage of Bill Callahan. It is nice to have a player with size developing at Center, compared to the previously undersized Kory Lichtensteiger.  

Right Guard – Brandon Scherff (6'5 319" AGE: 25)

The Redskins used another 1st round draft pick with Scherff and its paid dividends early. The 3rd year pro was selected to the pro bowl last year. I love his toughness and his ability to finish blocks. The drafting of Scherrf was the pivotal move in the rebuild of Hogs 2.0. The decision to put Scherrf at right guard allowed him to dominate, with Morgan Moses solidifying the right tackle position and finally, Spencer Long moved in to center. All three have excelled in their new positions. It was the right call to draft him over Leonard Williams, yes 5th overall, yes even though he is an guard. Scherff helps establish the culture. Mark May was a great player, but Ill take Scherrf.

Right Tackle – Morgan Moses (6'6" 335 AGE:26)

Moses was drafted early in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft. It took him some time to settle in and find a home at Right Tackle, but he has solidified a position that was in dire straights for many years. I'm sure most of you remember Tyler Polumbus and Tom Compton. Enough Said. Moses finally learned to play with some good knee bend and has steadily improved every year. The team is obviously confident in Moses given his contract extension this off season. He is a key Hog. Moses and Trent combine to make a great pair of bookend tackles, arguably the best in the league.

X-Factors – Ty Nsekhe (6’8” 338 AGE: 31)

I expect the Redskins to keep 8-9 offensive linemen on the final 53 man roster. With the rare ability to play both left and right tackle, Nsekhe is a lock to be on the 53 man roster. Little known fact is that Nsekhe played in all 16 games last year, starting 4 due to the TW suspension, and he gave up zero sacks during that span. I personally think Ty is more talented than Lauvao and probably more gifted athletically than Long. I know what your thinking, but no, he shouldn’t play LG either.

Arie Kouandijo (6’5" 315 AGE: 25)

As I mentioned earlier, I have been high on AK since we drafted him in the 4th round of the 2015 draft. The team has invested a 4th round draft pick in Arie, so I think his roster spot is safe. Kouandijo played in five games last year, starting two. He has the frame that Callahan likes in his OL, but AK has struggled when given his chances to run away with the job. He has the same strengths and weaknesses as Lauvao.  Better in the run game that they are in the pass game. Even though AK is younger, Lauvao has been able to regain his spot after multiple injuries. This says enough about both players

Chase Roullier (6’4” 312 23, 6th round)

A 6th round pick from this past April's draft, Roullier has a strong shot to make the roster. I don’t know much about him besides being able to play guard and center. He is young and his position versatility can only help his chances to stick on the roster

The Redskins have finally invested in rebuilding the unit that gave the team so much success, the Hogs. The Redskins have arguably a top five OL, even challenging the Dallas' Offensive Line which most of the sports media outlets slurp regularly. The Hogs 2.0 has an average starter age of 27, which means more time to grow and gel together. The Redskins' offense ranked 3rd in total yards with over 400 per game. That’s a huge feather in the cap of Bill Callahan. The unit as a whole has only given up 23 sacks the last two years (hey #KirkHive, that’s your cue to cite the quick release Kirk has). The Hogs 2.0 have given me hope and long gone are the days of the “zone system” lineman…the starters of Hogs 2.0 together weigh more than 1500lbs…that’s a lot of bacon. Unless there is a push from Arie Kouandijo for the Left Guard spot I don’t anticipate any training camp position battles along the line. I think the final roster will only have 8-9 bodies on the OL. With the top five starters locked in that leaves 3 or 4 spots for depth guys. The team is loaded with talent on offense, that extra body can be a 4th RB or TE.