As he readies for the next chapter of his football career, Cal tackle Mitchell Schwartz knows that challenges await in the NFL. The opponents he will face on Sundays will be bigger, faster and stronger than many of the defensive ends in college.

But the 6-foot-5, 318-pound Schwartz – a four-year starter at Cal – believes he is well prepared for the next level.

In college, Schwartz played in an offense that featured multiple blocking schemes, and he believes he has seen the ones he will be asked to play in as a pro. He has spent the offseason training with his brother, Geoff, a third-year pro drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2008 who just signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings.

Schwartz has good athleticism as well as experience at both tackle positions. And he relishes the mental aspects of the game, so he doesn’t foresee difficulties learning protection schemes.

“I enjoy it a lot -- getting to learn the playbook, learning the plays, how everything fits,” Schwartz says. “I don’t try to just learn my job. I like to know the whole offensive line scheme. I think when you know what the entire play is supposed to be like it kind of helps you piece things together a little better.”

“We ran a pretty good system at Cal,” he added. “We got different plays where we can check out of it and it’s a new play. Stuff where you’ve got to move a point one play or another depending on if the guy’s coming. We do a little bit of everything, so I think I’ll be well prepared.”

Schwartz projects as a third-round pick, and could be available when the Redskins are on the clock, six picks into that round. Right tackle remains a position of need for the Redskins, whose starter – Jammal Brown – is trying to rehabilitate a surgically repaired hip that has hobbled him the last two seasons.

The team signed free agent James Lee Monday, but he has limited playing experience. Also under contract are second-year pro Willie Smith and Tyler Polumbus, who has spent the bulk of his four-year career as a backup.

Although he isn’t viewed as one of the draft’s elite tackle prospects, such as Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff, Cordy Glenn, Jonathan Martin and Mike Adams, all of whom could go in the first round or early second round, scouts believe Schwartz is talented enough to start at right tackle as a rookie.

Schwartz said he doesn’t pay attention to projections or positional rankings and is confident that he can be an impact player in the NFL. He says he feels comfortable at either tackle position and has the ability to play guard as well.

“I think I’m a competitive guy, a tough guy, and you go out there on the field, you’ve kind of got to get after your opponent,” Schwartz said. “That’s something that’s one of our goals every game as an offensive line [at Cal]: to break the will of the defense. So I think I do a pretty good job of that, getting after them. I think I’m a complete player as well; able to run-block, able to pass-block. I consider myself to be a smart guy, intelligent.”

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Virginia Tech guard a versatile blocker

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