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Roster Review: Offensive Tackles

Posted Feb 10, 2012

With free agency and the NFL Draft fast approaching, Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the Redskins' roster position by position. Up first: offensive tackles.


With free agency and the NFL Draft fast approaching, Redskins.com's Brian Tinsman breaks down the Redskins' roster position by position. Up first: offensive tackles.

If the most important position in today’s NFL is the quarterback, then offensive tackles are a team’s best insurance policy for keeping them upright and productive.

Since the retirement of Chris Samuels after the 2009 season, the Redskins have searched for their next dominant left tackle. The Redskins thought that they had their man in Trent Williams, but off-the-field indiscretions have called that into question.

Williams showed tremendous potential and played up to his monster expectations at times last year, but started only 12 games before a season-ending suspension due to a substance abuse violation.

As head coach Mike Shanahan’s first overall pick in Washington, Williams will have time and opportunity to blossom in this offense, but this could prove to be a critical year for the young tackle.

Last offseason, the Redskins re-signed Jammal Brown after a productive first season in Washington. When healthy, Brown solidified the right tackle position, but like his bookend Williams, he started only 12 games due to hip and groin injuries.

Brown is a two-time Pro Bowl left tackle from his time in New Orleans, but he transitioned to right tackle with the Redskins. He has never played a full 16 games in a season.

Rookie tackle Willie Smith, journeyman Tyler Polumbus, and veteran Sean Locklear each started for the Redskins at tackle last season.

Smith was an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina this season, and made it to the 53-man roster as an intriguing prospect for the future. Injuries, ineffectiveness and suspensions in front of him cleared the way for three starts at left tackle the end of the season.

Locklear was brought in prior to the season to provide depth at the guard and tackle positions. Before coming to Washington, he played seven seasons in Seattle, starting at left tackle in Super Bowl XL. He played in eight games for the Redskins last season.

Polumbus was brought in as an emergency starter in Week 10 after he opened the year in Seattle. The Redskins were Polumbus’s third team in four years, and he started three of the last four games at right tackle for the burgundy and gold.


GARY FITZGERALD'S POSITIONAL ANALYSIS

Despite the disappointment of Williams' suspension last season, he is still the anchor of the Redskins' offensive line. The team has put in significant resources in developing Williams and it’s hoped he comes back more mature...and motivated.

There is perhaps a bigger question mark at right tackle and the Redskins may look to solidify the position either in free agency or the NFL Draft.

Jammal Brown, last year’s right tackle, was hampered by injuries for the second year in a row. Mike Shanahan has said he expects Jammal Brown to spend a good portion of the offseason at Redskins Park rehabbing and strengthening his nagging hip injury. His career may depend on it.

“He understands that it’s a short career [in the NFL] if you can’t stay healthy,” Shanahan said of Brown.

Willie Smith showed promise in starting the last three games of the season at left tackle, holding his own against elite pass rushers Jason Pierre-Paul, Jared Allen and Trent Cole. It will be interesting to see if coaches give Smith a look at right tackle this offseason.

Tyler Polumbus is expected to compete for a backup job. He played both guard and tackle for the Redskins last season, so his versatility helps him.

Nine-year veteran Sean Locklear is an unrestricted free agent and his future with the club is uncertain


Three NFL Offensive Tackles Eligible for Free Agency

As of February 10, 2012; names listed are in no particular order

-- Ryan Harris, Denver Broncos: Harris is a former third-round pick by Mike Shanahan in Denver. Harris's career has been derailed by injuries to his back and his foot. After re-signing with the Broncos for a playoff run last year, Harris will be looking for an opportunity to show he’s healthy, and Shanahan could look to him for depth.

-- Kareem McKenzie, New York Giants: Since joining the Giants in 2005, McKenzie has anchored the right tackle position for two Super Bowl winning teams and four top 10 rushing offenses. He hasn’t missed a game since 2009 and would provide a healthy, albeit aging option.

-- Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders: Barnes has appeared on the Redskins' radar before, and he showed what he’s capable of with 16 starts in Oakland this year. The Raiders’ offensive line was ranked fourth in fewest sacks allowed and seventh in rushing yards behind Barnes, who plays right tackle.


Three Offensive Tackles Available In the NFL Draft

As of February 10, 2012; names listed are in no particular order

-- Riley Reiff, Iowa: A former tight end, defensive tackle and guard, Reiff has started the last two years solely at left tackle. He earned All-Big 10 honors each of those years. Thanks to his versatility, scouts say he could play either left or right tackle in the pros. The 6-6, 300-pounder has good range as a pass blocker and a nasty streak that has aided him in run-blocking at Iowa.

-- Jonathan Martin, Stanford: A 6-6, 304-pound left tackle, Martin was nicknamed “Moose” at Stanford. Certainly some of Andrew Luck’s success with the Cardinal can be attributed to Martin, a three-year starter and second-team All-American last season. He has good mobility, which may make him a fit for the zone blocking scheme, but scouts say he needs to play with more physicality and improve his technique after contact to succeed at the NFL level.

-- Mike Adams, Ohio State: The Redskins had an early look at Adams at the Senior Bowl in January. The 6-8, 320-pounder was a three-year starter for the Buckeyes and emerged as one of the best left tackles in college football. Even though he has a big frame, scouts say he is well-coordinated and he uses his long arms to his advantage as a pass blocker.