By Rich Tandler
When offensive linemen speak with the media at the NFL Combine, almost every one of them tries to get out the message that he is a scheme-diverse left tackle. That, of course, is because protecting the quarterback’s blindside is where the money is.
The problem is that there are only 32 of those jobs and many of them are occupied by players who aren’t going anywhere. Thirty-five players were invited to the combine as tackles and only a handful of them—Matt Kalil of USC, Mike Adams of Ohio State, Riley Reiff of Iowa and perhaps one or two more—will end up in one of those coveted left tackle positions.
The rest will have to give it a go on the right side and a good number of them will move to guard. In fact, of the 35 combine attendees listed as offensive tackles Wes Bunting of the National Football post has 11 rated as guards. Certainly more will move inside when OTA’s and minicamps roll around.
One of those wanna-be left tackles could end up playing right tackle for the Redskins. They are in search of a successor to Jammal Brown. They might not trust that Brown will be healthy for the 2012 season and might want someone who will be able to step in right away. Or, they might want to lean on Brown and hope he can get through another year or two while his replacement is being groomed. The Redskins’ draft could well be shaped by which way they decide to go.
Some mock drafts have had the Redskins going OT early, taking Reiff with the sixth overall pick. That may be early to take a right tackle and Reiff, as noted, is very capable of playing on the left side. Reiff or Adams could represent good value in the top 10 to a team looking for a left tackle but the Redskins are going to ride with Trent Williams there. Still, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Redskisn would pull the trigger on a tackle here, especially if the solve their quarterback problem in free agency.
If the Redskins are intent on replacing Brown sooner rather than later, Jonathan Martin of Stanford could be sitting there in the second or maybe even the third round. He is athletic but he struggles with power making him a potential bargain for a zone blocking team like the Redskins.
So the Redskins will go to Indianapolis to meet the prospects they have seen on film and then decide if they will address the tackle position in free agency, in the draft, do both, or decide to stand pat with Brown backed up by Tyler Polumbus and Willie Smith.
The complete list of offensive tackles invited to the combine is below. They are in the order of Bunting’s scouting grades. Those who were invited to the combine as tackles but who are rated as guards by Bunting have scores with a *.
CSN Washington will have wall-to-wall coverage of the NFL Combine starting Feb 23 and our Rich Tandler will be in Indianapolis. If there are any players on the list you’d like to know more about, let us know in the comments or hit Rich up on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.