Breaking down the Redskins’ offensive line for the 2020 season
By Jonathan Eig
On Roster: Keith Ismael, Ross Pierschbacher, Chase Roullier, Michael Liedtke, Wes Martin, Brandon Scherff, Wes Schweitzer, Jeremy Vujnovich
Projected Starters: Scherff, Roullier, Martin
Of these eight players, the first three are listed as centers and the remaining five as guards, but with few exceptions, they are interchangeable. Only Brandon Scherff’s position is secure, though I find it hard to believe that Roullier will not be the starting center come opening day. And, as I mentioned, I do not discount the possibility that Saahdiq Charles will be lining up at guard at some point this season.
The battle for center is likely to come down to Roullier versus 2020 draftee Ismael. Ismael looks like a potential standout, if only he had been drafted by the 1997 Denver Broncos. He shows great movement for a big man, both laterally and downfield, and seems like a perfect zone blocking center.
In 2020, it is likely that the Redskins, like almost every other team in the NFL, will run some type of hybrid that relies on some zone blocking, but perhaps a little more traditional power blocking. And, not unlike another athletic fifth-round Redskins pick, Adam Gettis, I am not sure how well Ismael will hold up against 330-pound NFL tackles.
At the very least, Ismael will get a chance to go against the likes of DaRon Payne and Tim Settle in practice to get acclimated. If there is practice. Again, uncertainty over how this preseason will operate could slow down Ismael’s progress, at least early on. Regardless, he looks to be a quality interior depth player with the potential to go much higher.
The hope is that Roullier will continue to develop as a center. He has not been an overpowering player thus far, but he has been steady enough until someone better takes his job. Pierschbacher, meanwhile, will probably have to clearly outplay Ismael to secure a roster spot. I don’t totally discount that possibility, but I think another year on the practice squad may be his ceiling.
The battle for left guard should be the most interesting in camp. I have no problem with letting Ereck Flowers walk. The Dolphins seriously overpaid for a failed tackle who resurrected his career as a passable guard last year. This job should be Wes Martin’s to lose. He has the size and strength to form a solid core with Scherff and whoever lines up at center.
Martin got some playing time last year, and looked raw, but his progress seems to be on track. Should he falter, and if Charles is not moved inside, the Reskins have some serious holes. Ismael or Pierschbacher could get a look there, but there does not appear to be anyone who can provide strong power blocking inside. Vujnovich may have the best shot – he at least has logged some decent minutes as a starting guard, but neither he, nor Schweitzer, nor the recently acquired Liedtke, fill in with great hope. Like Christian, Parris, and Adams among the tackles, these project to be deep depth players, and if they have to play serious minutes, that spells major trouble.
As with the free agent tackles, there is one, and as far as I can tell, only one free agent guard who would constitute a major upgrade. Larry Warford should certainly be on the Redskins’ radar. But just like Peters, convincing a player who has been on a consistent playoff contender to come to D.C., when he will almost certainly have other offers, is, shall we say, challenging.
Not a pretty picture. Barring any major surprises, the Redskins will keep eight or nine offensive linemen, with two or three more likely on the practice squad. New roster rules this year may result in one fewer lineman on the 53, but an extra one or two on the practice squad. If they do end up keeping ten of these players in some form, that means only four of them will not have a place in the Redskins franchise come September.