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Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

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Old 12-12-2008, 07:33 PM   #1
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Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

Out of all the tape I grinded through this season, the job the Ravens OL did against us really impressed me the most. Yes, they used a lot of max protect schemes to simplify the game for Joe Flacco. Yeah, the Redskins didn't get real creative, and yes, Flacco struggled. But the Ravens OL won all of their one on one matchups in this game.

From left to right, the Ravens OL is comprised of:

Left Tackle: Jared Gaither, a 2nd year player from Maryland, who was a 7th round draft selection of the Ravens in 2007. Played on the same line as Stephon Heyer. Gaither looks like a franchise left tackle in the making. He's strong against both the run and the pass, and doesn't lose his base, against even the most experienced rushers. The thing about Gaither was that when the Ravens drafted him, they weren't looking for anything more than a depth guy, maybe a developmental prospect. Boy, did they strike it rich here.
Redskin Prospectus: This is what the Redskins were wishing that Stephon Heyer would become, but it's not happening. Gaither is clearly more developed at this point, and probably just better. The Redskins do not have a Jared Gaither on the roster, and likely will not find one in the seventh round. This guy was a top two round talent who fell in the draft for god-knows-why.

This is the kind of guy though, who the Redskins could find in the first round in 2009, and exactly what they should be looking for, especially if Virginia just happens to produce a first round OT in their backyard....Vinny are you reading this?

Left Guard: Ben Grubbs, a 2nd year player from Auburn, a 1st round selection (29th overall) in 2007 by the Ravens. Grubbs is the best lineman on the team, and he should be a probowler this year. He's the only lineman this season I've seen who looked like he could block Anthony Montgomery one on one consistently (I say looked like, because he always had help). He's well beyond his years in terms of understanding the offense and offensive line play in the NFL.

Redskins Prospectus: Grubbs wasn't a surprise, he was simply available when the Ravens picked, and is exactly who the draft analysts thought he was. If the Redskins want a Ben Grubbs, they'll have to target a top guard in a draft who fits their offensive identity (which is a smaller, more athletic lineman, with good fundamentals and feet, not necessarily with any experience pulling and trapping). They won't pick in the 2009 draft in the area where this guy has good value, so we're looking to 2010 for this guy.

Center: Jason Brown, a fourth year player who was a 4th round selection by the Ravens. Brown is the relative weak link of the line, but he's above average as far as Centers go, seems to handle the line calls and other responsibilities well, and although he got beaten by Montgomery once or twice, he didn't make any errors and kept fighting in pass protection to give his QB a chance.

Jason Brown's contract expires after the season, I believe, and he would be an intriguing FA pickup for Center next year. Of course, the last time we grabbed Baltimore's Center after he was eligible for free agency, we ended up with Casey Rabach.

Redskins Prospectus: I would consider making a play on Jason Brown in free agency, he's better than Rabach was in Baltimore, but I also don't think the Center situation is solved for the next 5 years if we do sign him. He's a better stopgap than Jansen would be, but since Jansen is already guaranteed money for the next three seasons, he's actually the cost effective solution at C.

The other point is that we might already have our Jason Brown in Chad Rinehart. If the target date to have a rebuilt OL is 2010, well, Rinehart should be in our starting lineup by then and will likely be at least as good as a Guard/Center as Brown is.

Right Guard: Chris Chester, a second round pick of the Ravens in 2006, now a third year player. Chester was garnering some first round talk in the days leading up to the draft, and was a Center at Oklahoma, but has found his niche as a Guard for the Ravens. Chester isn't and will never be Ben Grubbs, but he's versatile, gives the Ravens two guards who can pull so that they can run plays either way, and is, like the rest of the line, strong in pass protection.

He can move to Center if the Ravens don't want to re-sign Jason Brown.

Redskins Prospectus: The Redskins, hopefully can use the late rounds of the draft in 2009 to find a Chris Chester type. Chester is good, but he's not Grubbs-good, and the dropoff from the Chester's of the draft, a 2nd round pick, to the say Jamey Richard (Colts) of the draft, a 7th round pick, is very, very small. When you take an interior OL player in the first two rounds, you want to get Grubbs, you don't want to get a Chester, or a Jake Grove (Raiders) who doesn't make pro bowls, those guys are a dime a dozen in the draft.

You also risk taking a player on the OL who isn't any good at all in the last few rounds, but I trust the college scouting department to get it right, and get us a guy who can start by his 2nd year in the league, like Chester.

Right Tackle: Willie Anderson, of Bengals fame, a multi-time pro-bowler who apparently couldn't make THIS Bengals line, was released and picked up and has gone on to much better things with the Ravens. He's still a top-end right tackle. I understand the Bengals not wanting to pay the back end of his contract, and severing ties now as opposed to later, as long as the Bengals don't try to act like this is a case of addition by subtraction. Anderson is one of the biggest reasons that Joe Flacco is having an above average rookie year.

Redskins Prospectus: This is the Ravens equivalent of Chris Samuels. Whether or not Samuels ever makes the move across the field depends on how quickly the Redskins find and draft a LT prospect. At RT, a 35 year old Samuels, if he can stay healthy, figures to be just as good as Anderson has been for the Ravens.

Utility Tackle: Adam Terry was a 2005 second round draft pick out of Syracuse by the Ravens, who was supposed to be the Right Tackle who succeeded Tony Pashos. Terry started last year, but wasn't adequate, so the Ravens went out and got Anderson. Rather than getting frusterated and blaming Terry for whatever went wrong with the offense, the Ravens calmly moved Terry to the bench, but kept him in the gameplan often. He STILL might be the RT of the future, but his contract expires after the season.

Redskins Prospectus: If Gaither is who we dream Heyer can become, Terry is what Heyer already is: a potential RT of the future, who is currently best served as a third tackle. I don't know if Heyer will ever become any more than this, because I don't know whether Heyer is just an adjustment or two away from becoming a Franchise OT, or if he's on the wrong path and needs to be totally torn down and rebuilt to have success. I do know that if it's the latter with him, the Redskins are not the organization to help him enjoy his full potential.

This article is a good one regarding the differences between the Ravens and the Redskins:

The difference between the Redskins and the Ravens? Ozzie Newsome - Hog Heaven
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:49 PM   #2
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Re: Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

Nice thread. I hadn't even remotely thought of the idea of Samuels at RT. Not a bad thought at all. I'm really hoping we can get Duke Robinson in the 2009 draft. I don't why, but that's my guy in '09. He just seems like the perfect fit. I think he and Rinehart would be starting in our interior by mid 2009. I wish we hadn't lost Crummey either, because he would be a nice replacement at Center.
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:57 PM   #3
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Re: Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

With Crummney, Gaither, and Heyer on the OL for Maryland in 2006, isn't it odd that their offense wasn't better? I know those aren't the poster children for NFL superstar, but I still wouldn't have thought the 2006 terrapins would have produced three potential OL starters based on how they played that season...

Good year for Center in the draft, but I'll have to evaluate the class after the underclassman decide to go. I'll freely admit that right now, I don't know anything about Duke Robinson, but I'll probably hear a lot about him in the next four months, probably enough to make an informed opinion of whether or not he'll be a good fit for us in the first round.
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Old 12-12-2008, 08:09 PM   #4
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Re: Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

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Originally Posted by GTripp0012 View Post
With Crummney, Gaither, and Heyer on the OL for Maryland in 2006, isn't it odd that their offense wasn't better? I know those aren't the poster children for NFL superstar, but I still wouldn't have thought the 2006 terrapins would have produced three potential OL starters based on how they played that season...

Good year for Center in the draft, but I'll have to evaluate the class after the underclassman decide to go. I'll freely admit that right now, I don't know anything about Duke Robinson, but I'll probably hear a lot about him in the next four months, probably enough to make an informed opinion of whether or not he'll be a good fit for us in the first round.
Good point about the Terps

I like Max Unger in the third round this year. I like Antoine Caldwell from Alabama as well.

As for Robinson, based on where I estimate we will draft approximately I think he would be likely the best fit. He's not the most fundamentally sound player yet, but he's been starting for all intents and purpose since his freshman year and he's improving each year. He's a big guy who can push defenses back and even play tackle. Plus he's Smokey Robinson's nephew!
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Old 12-12-2008, 08:14 PM   #5
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Re: Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

I just hope we come out of this with at least one Center, and hopefully a stud tackle as well.

I wouldn't pass up on an elite defensive lineman or LB for a mid-first round OT though. But we won't be picking in the middle of the round unless we lose 2 out of 3, which I don't think will happen. At worst, I think we finish 9-7.
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Old 12-12-2008, 10:44 PM   #6
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Re: Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

GTripp:

You said:

"You also risk taking a player on the OL who isn't any good at all in the last few rounds, but I trust the college scouting department to get it right, and get us a guy who can start by his 2nd year in the league, like Chester."



As Hamlet said, "Aye! There's the rub..."

The Skins scouting department and the folks who "build the draft board" obviously were looking at Maryland in order to find Heyer. So, how did they miss Gaither? Did they not realize he was there? Or much worse, did they look at both of them and think Heyer was the better player? [shudder!]


The Ravens found good talent in low rounds; the Skins scouts/draft board mavens found Rheinhart and Dockery and a bunch of guys who never got to play - - not that Rhienhart has logged all that many minutes yet either.


If the Skins were skilled at or knew how to draft young linemen to develop into starters, the team would not be in the situation it finds itself in. I don't deny for a moment that talent for the OL is out there in the later rounds - - and even as undrafted free agents sometimes - - but the folks currently populating the Skins FO have shown exactly no ability to spot it and/or to sign it.


They haven't yet earned my trust...
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Old 12-13-2008, 01:26 AM   #7
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Re: Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

I think our college scouting department generally gets it, as we haven't missed in the first round (when we've tried) since 2001. Theoretically, though, we ended up getting that draft right (Moss), even though it cost us Laverneus "I used to be able to spell his name" Coles to get it.

Late rounds, we've done a good job on the defensive side. I'm willing to chalk up the lack of late round talent on the offensive side to relative lack of trying for now, rather than scouting ineptitude.

The general point was, interior offensive lineman are a good place to go with those late picks, because they're hard to scout, so a lot more good ones are left than any other position. There's no way to know once you have one that you don't have a lemon, but that's what the pre-season is for.
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Old 12-13-2008, 01:42 AM   #8
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Re: Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

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Originally Posted by sportscurmudgeon View Post
The Skins scouting department and the folks who "build the draft board" obviously were looking at Maryland in order to find Heyer. So, how did they miss Gaither? Did they not realize he was there? Or much worse, did they look at both of them and think Heyer was the better player? [shudder!]
I'm not sure it's an either or sort of deal. Gaither was drafted, Heyer was not. Sure, Gaither was very undervalued and Heyer was properly valued, but to lambast the Redskins for missing Gaither, you'd have to do the same to the 30 other teams that didn't get him in the first six rounds.

Heyer was a better find than most UDFAs in his own right. Heyer, and I think Thrash, Yoder, and Geisinger, are the only undrafted players on the Redskins' offense. By and large, this offense is made up of people who didn't slip through the cracks, so credit them for Heyer at least.
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Old 12-13-2008, 02:57 AM   #9
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Re: Can our Offensive Line resemble the Ravens by 2010?

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Originally Posted by GTripp0012 View Post
With Crummney, Gaither, and Heyer on the OL for Maryland in 2006, isn't it odd that their offense wasn't better? I know those aren't the poster children for NFL superstar, but I still wouldn't have thought the 2006 terrapins would have produced three potential OL starters based on how they played that season...

Good year for Center in the draft, but I'll have to evaluate the class after the underclassman decide to go. I'll freely admit that right now, I don't know anything about Duke Robinson, but I'll probably hear a lot about him in the next four months, probably enough to make an informed opinion of whether or not he'll be a good fit for us in the first round.
Terps haven't had a good QB since Scott McBrien. So no matter how good their line was, a mediocre QB will make the offense stink.

Gaither had academic issues when he was with the Terps and was often in the Fridge's bad side. I think those things may have scared teams away from drafting him.
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