The right side of the Washington Redskins offensive line could look a lot different this season. In the same round they took tackle Morgan Moses, Jay Gruden and Bruce Allen selected guard Spencer Long.
The new head coach and incumbent general manager will want the ex-Nebraska ace to push for playing time ahead of veteran Chris Chester. But while finding reinforcements at right guard was an obvious need, Long might not be the best fit in D.C.
For one thing, he is a short-area blocker. Long excels in the natural congestion of trench warfare, but he is limited in space. That could be a problem in Washington's zone-based blocking schemes, which require linemen to be quick and effective on the move.
Average athlete. Is tight-ankled and heavy-legged -- lumbers to the second level. Struggled with the quickness of Minnesota's Ra'shede Hageman (though he was noticeably playing through a knee injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the rest of the season after leaving the Minnesota game). Labors to cut off the inside rush. Struggles to adjust and pick off linebackers and is not efficient pulling and trapping.
Phrases like "lumbers" and "labors" make it hard to imagine Long bursting to the linebacker level of a defense on the stretch plays that have made running back Alfred Morris dominant.
But what Long does offer is the ample size the Redskins covet. As offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, Gruden utilized bigger trench warriors than the slight group he found waiting for him in Washington.
Gruden cited size as a major factor in the decision to draft both Long and fellow third-rounder Moses, per Washington Post reporter Mike Jones:
Gruden: size of linemen made them attractive but that they wanted to make sure they were athletic as well which is key for zone blocking— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) May 10, 2014
At 6'5" and 320 pounds, Long is a beefier alternative to 6'3", 309-pound Chester. Considering how often the interior of Washington's front five was bullied and flattened in 2013, a bigger blocker inside could make a key difference.
Long is certainly more aggressive than Chester and won't be pushed around as easily in pass protection. That is more good news for quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Yet while Long answers a need, it's difficult to shake the feeling the Redskins overlooked more accomplished prospects, such as Gabe Jackson and David Yankey.