The offensive line for the Washington Football Team has been a roller-coaster in recent years. It has been an injury-plagued unit that has endured constant shuffle upfront.
But over the course of the 2020 NFL season, they inched toward putting it all together.
The WTF entered last season with the 29th-ranked offensive line, according to the PFF ranks. But by season's end, they were one of the surprises around the league, finishing No. 6 in the final PFF rankings of the year.
Heading into the 2021 season, Washington has fallen back into the middle of the rankings – and that is a bit of a head-scratcher.
The WFT has been aggressive in retooling the offensive line. Morgan Moses and Geron Christian have been released. Charles Leno leads the new additions as a free-agent signing while Washington also made a trade for Ereck Flowers. During the draft, Washington passed on Christian Darrisaw at No. 19 in favor of Jamin Davis. They were able to land Samuel Cosmi with the 51st-overall pick.
Was all of the shuffle the reason the WFT fell to 16th in the current PFF rankings?
Let’s start by stating the obvious. In Week 1, Brandon Scherff is going to be at right guard and Chase Roullier is the center. This is what we know for sure.
Roullier has started 53 games in four years, including all 16 a season ago. He has improved every year and signed a four-year, $40.5 million contract extension back in January. Pencil that in.
The situation surrounding Scherff is a bit more complicated. He is entering his seventh year in Washington. During that time, Scherff has asserted himself as one of the best guards in the league. Despite claiming that he wants to remain in Washington, Scherff has been unable to agree to an extension. The WFT has until July 15 to sign Scherff to an extension or it cannot be done until after the season. Chances are, a long-term deal will not happen. But the All-Pro right guard will still be lining up for Washington this season.
These positions are set in stone. Leno should also be comfortable in his position at left tackle.
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Leno has played all 16 games over the last five years for the Chicago Bears. He wanted to sign with a team where he could play left tackle and ultimately landed with Washington. Leno could be tested by younger options, such as Cosmi and Saahdiq Charles, but it would be surprising to see anyone else protecting the blindside of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
This is where it will get tricky. There will likely be a two-man competition at right tackle to replace Moses. The allure of Cosmi in the draft was his ability to act, for now, as a swing tackle. Because of this, there is no real feeling on what the long-term plan is for him. He will be battling for the right tackle spot with Cornelius Lucas. Whoever is not named the starter will have the ability to back up both tackle positions.
The WFT traded for Flowers and this marks his second stint with the team. Flowers started 16 games for Washington in 2019 at guard. He will have to battle with Wes Schweitzer for the left guard position entering the season.
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Here is a look at what the depth chart could look like entering Week 1:
LT: Charles Leno, Cornelius Lucas, Saahdiq Charles
LG: Wes Schweitzer, Ereck Flowers
C: Chase Roullier, Tyler Larsen
RG: Brandon Scherff, Ereck Flowers
RT: Cornelius Lucas, Sam Cosmi
One thing that is certain is that Washington has a lot of depth along the offensive line heading into the 2021 season. Is this a group that can overachieve once again and finish higher than its initial PFF rankings? That is yet to be seen.
For now, WFT fans will have to trust coach Ron Rivera and believe that he has a plan for this unit. After the release of Moses, and in our survey of the depth chart, it certainly seems like he does.