At 6-feet-6 and 314 pounds, Morgan Moses has the size and strength needed to play offensive tackle in the NFL. But the biggest lesson Washington’s third-round pick out of Virginia had to learn this past offseason and training camp involved the need to play with strong technique and fundamentals and not just rely on his size and strength.
Drafted with the idea that he could serve as the long-term solution at right tackle, Moses struggled at that position in the offseason. So, for training camp, coaches played him exclusively at his college position, left tackle, so he could learn the playbook, blocking schemes and technique in a more familiar setting.
During those lessons, coaches harped on the need to stay low to ensure he gets proper leverage on opponents, and to learn how to better use his hands.
After watching Moses make strides from the start of camp to the first preseason game, and more from that preseason opener to the second matchup, coaches have been encouraged.
When asked about the biggest change he had seen in Moses, coach Jay Gruden said, “Confidence and knowledge of the system. That’s a big thing when you’re not quite sure what to do or how to pass set, you tend to be in the wrong spot or you tend to get beat. But the more you get comfortable with the way we’re teaching pass sets and our angles, getting up into the next level of running game, the more confident you are and who you’re going to in the pass blocking, and the running game. I think he has enough athleticism to be a very, very good tackle in this league for a long time, it’s just a matter of getting him comfortable – left side, right side, with all the calls that changes the protection. He’s going to be fine because he’s a long, big-bodied kid and he works very hard at it.”
Satisfied with Moses’ progress thus far, coaches will move him back to the right side where he will play the next two preseason games. He will backup starter Tyler Polumbus, but possibly could see some first team action so coaches can evaluate his progress at game speed.
The ability to play both positions is key because it’s no sure thing that the Redskins will carry two backup tackles. (Second-year pro Tom Compton is Moses’ top competition). And, even if they do, they most likely wouldn’t dress both on game days. So, the backup must have the capability to play both.
“It’s just being available, being able to show I can play left and right tackle,” Moses said. “Since camp began, I’ve been trying to come out and learn the playbook, and now I’m being moved to right tackle, and I’ll try to compete and enhance that every day. … Being able to get all these practice reps and then get all those game reps, it definitely boosts your confidence, knowing that you belong here and can do it on this level.”
In addition to wanting to see Moses prove he can play well on the opposite side, they seek consistency out of the rookie. Once he proves himself capable of maintaining a high level of play, his playing time could increase.
Said Gruden, “It’s just a matter – like I said – of getting comfortable with his pass sets and being consistent with his approach on a play-to-play basis, not doing great for three plays and then having, ‘Oh, I didn’t know what to do on that one.’ Those are the ones we have to eliminate, and the beauty of it is, he doesn’t have to come right in away and start every game. He can learn, he can learn and then when his time is ready, hopefully he’ll be ready to roll.”