Predicting the likely winners of each Redskins position battle
Left Tackle: Donald Penn
The common refrain from the Redskins faithful in the lead up to the season was concern about Geron Christian being thrust into a bigger role. The 2018 third-round pick hadn’t looked good as a rookie and was projected to be the swing tackle early in the offseason. The thought process was that he would need to show growth in order to be trusted in that important role.
Then came the Trent Williams holdout. And Christian dealing with an injury at the start of camp. And Ereck Flowers having to play some at left tackle. That eventually scared the Redskins into signing Donald Penn to the squad, and it was both a solid and much-needed move.
Penn hasn’t been fantastic since coming on the field, but the 36-year-old has plenty of experience on the left side of the line. He has been very good against the run and while he has been beaten by some quicker players in pass protection, he may be able to clean that up a bit as the season rolls along. After all, he has been in Redskins camp for less than a month, so he certainly is still shaking off some rust.
Early on in this battle, Penn proved that he was the stronger starting candidate. Christian started in the first two preseason games, but Penn worked with the first-team offense for almost the entirety of the third preseason game. That should indicate that the veteran will be the starter moving forward. And that’s good news for Christian.
Christian simply isn’t ready to start at tackle yet. He was a raw prospect coming out of Louisville and after missing most of his rookie campaign with an injury (and struggling when he was on the field), trusting him as a starter was a massive risk. Now, he’ll get a chance to develop in the wings. Hopefully, he will be able to make some strides moving forward, but unfortunately, there was no Morgan Moses-type leap in ability from year one to year two.
The state of this position battle also demonstrates not only how much the Redskins miss Williams, but also how underrated the loss of Ty Nsekhe was. The 34-year-old tackle signed with the Bills this offseason and had he re-signed with the Redskins, there would be a bit less panic at left tackle.
Of course, letting Nsekhe go seemed necessary at the time, as they had some contract extensions coming up and already had a great left tackle in place. The team didn’t foresee the Williams holdout and if they had, perhaps they would have made an effort to retain the veteran swing option.