Continuing with our series looking at draft prospects, today it’s the interior offensive line’s turn. The Washington Redskins have made an overhaul to the line, cutting starting center Will Montgomery and signing Shawn Lauvao and Mike McGlynn, while moving starting left guard Kory Lichtensteiger inside to center. Clearly, Jay Gruden and his offensive staff weren’t happy with the state of the offensive line they inherited. Other than Trent Williams at left tackle, nothing appears set in stone along the offensive line, making it a need entering the draft.
High round: Xavier Su’a Filo, UCLA
With the additions that Gruden and the Redskins have already made this offseason, the offense looks set to transition from Mike Shanahan’s run-first style to a more pass-happy system. Lauvao is better in pass protection than he is as a run blocker, while Washington have also added wide receivers Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson. Transitioning to a more passing orientated offense would make a guard like Su’a Filo an excellent fit for the Redskins. He excels with his pass protection.
On this play, the defense lines up in an under front, designed to match up the defensive tackle one-on-one with Su’a Filo.
Su’a Filo displays good technique when engaging the defender. He gets his hands inside for leverage and gives himself a wide base, but bends at the knees instead of the waist.
The defensive tackle is completely stonewalled inside at the line of scrimmage and is forced to try getting outside to get something from the play. Su’a Filo is easily able to stay in front of him and walks him out of the play completely.
Su’a Filo is equally adept at picking up blitzing defenders.
Here, Su’a Filo has a defensive tackle lined up over him, but also has a linebacker blitzing in the ‘B’ gap between him and the left tackle.
Su’a Filo gets a nice initial punch to the chest of the defensive tackle, slowing his rush. All the while, he keeps his eyes on the incoming blitzer.
Su’a Filo passes on the defensive tackle to his center inside, moving across to pick up the blizing linebacker. He does an excellent job staying low and exploding up into the defender, getting underneath his pad level. That forces the blitzing defender into the air, allowing Su’a Filo to easily push him backwards and win the block.
While he’s an excellent technician as a pass protector, Su’a Filo is also effective as a run blocker.
This play demonstrates something that the Redskins value in guards, an ability to reach the second level and block in space.
Su’a Filo begins the play by helping his center on a combination block on a defensive tackle inside. His presence helps knock the tackle off-balance, making the block easier for the center. Su’a Filo keeps his eyes on his true target, the linebacker.
Su’a Filo peels off and reaches the second level to block the linebacker. He stays low and gets his hands inside, giving him all the leverage in the block. The running back is able to follow the hole created by Su’a Filo and pick up a positive gain.
If the Redskins opted to take a guard early, Su’a Filo has everything they would want in one. He could plug in on Day 1 and be a starter at either right or left guard.
Projection: Late first/early second round.
Middle round: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
The Redskins only have to go as far as their quarterback Robert Griffin III for a scouting report on Richardson. Richardson played left guard and some left tackle for Baylor while Griffin was in college. At 6 feet 5, 329 pounds, Richardson is a mauler, something that Gruden liked in his guards while in Cincinnati.
Richardson is a guy Baylor loved to run behind because of his strength, particularly near the goal line, as you see here.
Richardson uses every bit of his 329 pounds here to shove the lighter defender back to create a lane for the running back.
Richardson powers the defender five yards back off the line of scrimmage and well away from the running back, who is able to follow the hole created by Richardson into the end zone.
Gruden uses a power running game that involves pulling guards to use them as lead blockers. Richardson has experience with those types of plays.
Here we see Richardson at left guard. He’s going to pull from his original position and clear a path for the running back to follow off the right side of the line.
Richardson has quick feet and good hips for his size. That allows him to open himself up quickly and work his way across the line.
Richardson meets a defender in the hole head on. He doesn’t worry too much about technique. He tries to get low, but he doesn’t manage to get under the pad level of the defender.
It’s an irrelevant detail though, as he uses the momentum gain from pulling to drive the defender backwards.
Richardson isn’t just a mauler, though. As I mentioned, he has quick feet for his size. He does a good job getting to the second level and blocking defenders on the move.
This is a very similar play to the one we saw from Su’a Filo earlier. Richardson starts by helping his center in a combination block on the nose tackle.
But Richardson gives the defender a significantly stronger punch than the one we saw from Su’a Filo earlier. Richardson begins to peel off and work to the second level.
He’s easily able to cut off the linebacker from making a play on the runner, who follows the lane created by Richardson.
Richardson would offer the Redskins something they don’t currently have up front, raw strength. It’s not easy to find guys his size that can move that well, which will make Richardson an attractive option to both zone and power teams. His problems arise in pass protection. He can get beaten by quicker tackles and doesn’t always recognize stunts; although his quick feet should allow him to improve his pass protection. He would need some developing, but his size and athleticism can’t be taught.
Projection: Third/fourth round.
Late Round: Bryan Stork, Florida State
Stork spent last season snapping the ball to Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston as he led FSU to the BCS national championship. He was one of the five men trusted to keep Winston upright and allow him to make plays. Stork has become a solid pass protector at center.
Here, the Flordia defense is running a stunt designed to send defenders in both ‘A’ gaps either side of the center.
Stork picks up the first blitzer without any trouble. He delivers an extremely strong punch (one of his best traits), landing it right on the chest of the incoming blitzer.
The punch knocks the defender off-balance, allowing Stork to attempt to reach across and at least delay the second defender long enough to get a pass away.
Stork’s contact might not have appeared to be much, but it was crucial to this play. It delayed the defender for an extra second, which allowed Winston to get his throw away.
The pass happened to find a wide-open receiver in the end zone for a touchdown. Stork couldn’t have done much else that play. There isn’t an offensive lineman in the league that would be asked to block two defenders. Stork managed to knock one off-balance and delay the second rusher just enough.
In the run game, Stork is less accomplished. He lacks lower-body strength which stops him from driving defenders backwards. But he fits in a zone scheme and shows that he is capable of sealing off a block inside.
On this play, Stork releases straight to the second level to take on the linebacker.
He engages at an angle that cuts off the linebacker from the direction of the run. He keeps his pad level low enough to give him the required leverage to maintain the block.
He struggles to drive back the defender and dominate the block, but he’s able to maintain the block and seal him off inside, allowing the runner to reach the second level safely.
Stork’s lower body strength needs plenty of work, and he might struggle with the power runs that Gruden ran in Cincinnati. However, if the Redskins hold over the zone running scheme from Mike Shanahan, then Stork could fit nicely and develop his run blocking while offering solid pass protection.
Projection: Fifth/sixth round
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