The latest prized offensive tackle prospect to leave the University of Virginia, Morgan Moses is the latest piece to be added to the Washington Redskins' shuffling offensive line.
A unit that surrendered 36 sacks last season, pass protection certainly wasn't the strong suit of Washington's men up front.
So much so that Robert Griffin III was benched for the final four games of last season out of fear that the team couldn't keep him healthy.
While the team successfully acquired Shawn Lauvao to upgrade the left side of the offensive line—and at center, by moving Kory Lichtensteiger to the spot Will Montgomery vacated—the 'Skins failed in their attempt to sign Donald Penn as their starting right tackle in free agency.
Question is, though, is he ready?
Selected with the 66th overall pick in the third round, many were quick to label Moses as a steal, a first-round talent who slipped through the cracks—at least, that's how ESPN's Todd McShay felt (via ESPN's John Keim).
Many forget, though, there were reasons why Moses fell, reasons why a Miami Dolphins team starving for a tackle passed on him in favor of Ja'Wuan James.
Moses' NFL-readiness was one red flag among NFL draft analysts.
Citing his propensity for lethargically shifting his weight when he's pressed by speed rushers, Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com called Moses a "developmental project."
While lauding Moses for his ability to stem pass-rushers with his long arms and powerful hands, even comparing him to All-Pro Ryan Clady, CBS Sports' Dane Brugler and Derek Stephens highlighted pitfalls that could limit Moses' ability to make an immediate impact as a rookie:
Lacks the ability to stop and start with suddenness or redirect in a short area. Struggles to get low and snap into smaller opponents at the second level, and will over-pursue as a run-blocker. Isn't always decisive in space and lacks commitment at times as a lead blocker on outside runs. Collapses at the elbow or will simply drop his head and ram his target when on the run, leaving him susceptible to whiffing or losing his balance and toppling forward. Has struggled with weight fluctuations throughout his career.
After two weeks of OTAs, such issues have already come up.
In documenting Moses' performance in OTAs, ESPN's John Keim cited the need for him to improve his technique.
"He'll have to improve his fundamentals. He has to learn to play more with his knees bent, and not his waist. And how to move his feet in addition to his arms," Keim said.
These were struggles that were apparent to head coach Jay Gruden as well.
In an interview with Mike Jones of The Washington Post, Gruden relayed the importance of Moses seeing time at both tackle spots—a possible hint that his role early on will be as the backup swing tackle:
He needs to know both tackle spots right now. But we had him at the right [last week]. He’s obviously more comfortable on the left side because that’s what he’s been doing the last few years in college. You could see him struggle a bit on the right side and then he went back to the left side, he appeared a little more natural. But he’s obviously not penciled in as the starting left tackle.
Even with that said, the need to improve hasn't been lost on Moses.
In comments he made to Tarik El-Bashir of CSN Washington, Moses said, “I don’t think it’s just one thing that I need to work on. I need to work on my overall game. Polishing technique. That’s what the NFL is all about. Everybody is athletic."
With Polumbus set to be a free agent after the 2014 campaign—and Polumbus' tormenter Justin Tuck no longer in the NFC East—there isn't an urgent need for Washington to rush Moses into the starting lineup.
As poorly as Polumbus played in 2013, he proved to be an adequate right tackle when he was protecting a more agile Griffin in 2012. Serviceable in the running game as well, Polumbus' shortcomings can be managed with Griffin's increased mobility.
While the upside with Moses is evident, don't expect him to enter the starting lineup until 2015.
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