Coming off a year when three of the starting Offensive Lineman went to the Pro Bowl, along with those same three making All-Pro Teams (Zack Martin, Tyrone Smith, and Travis Frederick); with Frederick being the lone second team All-Pro, you would believe the Offensive Line would be set going into the Regular Season. Well, the starting lineup is.
Yet, quite a few questions remain regarding the quality of depth along the line. Left Tackle to Right Tackle will again be:
- Tyrone Smith
- Ronald Leary
- Travis Frederick
- Zack Martin
- Doug Free
La’el Collins, whom many thought would take Ronald Leary’s position at Left Guard, simply has not shown that he is ready for a starting nod. I never thought he would walk in and start on a unit that had become one of the best, if not the best in the NFL. He needed to be clearly better than Leary; despite Leary missing a lot of Training Camp with injuries, Collins was not able to capitalize on the additional reps. While he has shown improvement through camp, the idea of him supplanting Leary was quickly put to rest.
Other than those six, I see the following making the Final 53:
- Darrion Weems
- Mackenzy Bernadeau
Weems did nothing else during Training Camp other than make me wish that third round draft pick Chaz Green was healthy. I have seen very little that should leave Offensive Line Coach Frank Pollack comfortable with Weems being the primary Swing Tackle. He has made numerous mistakes with his technique in pass sets. He also has not blown anyone off the ball with his run blocking with any consistency either.
The team could carry anywhere from eight to ten on the Offensive Line on the 53.
Weems’ performance leads me to believe the team will call on Will McClay after the final cuts to see if they can claim another Tackle that could be the primary backup at one of the positions while Weems strictly backs up at the other. I am not comfortable enough with his work to feel he can carry the workload that he would need to prepare for both Tackle positions.
Bernadeau is a reliable Guard who has also received some work at Center. I would be shocked if he was not kept around, especially after starting in place of Zack Martin against Minnesota. While he is a step down in talent from both starting Guards, he is reliable enough to step in and give a solid effort if needed.
That leaves a discussion for Shane McDermott and Ronald Patrick to see which can make the Practice Squad. Both have worked at Center, I have personally seen more out of McDermott who they may keep on the 53. McDermott has been one of the only decent performers when we get to the third string and beyond Offensive Line unit.
Then finally a decision comes down to John Wetzel and Laurence Gibson at Tackle. There is a chance they may place Wetzel on the 53 and cut him after if they can claim an upgrade at Tackle. He was better than RJ Dill, but that is not a roaring endorsement of his camp performance, as Dill was honestly awful.
Gibson has been a project for Offensive Assistant Marc Colombo, he improved through Training Camp but is looked at as a developmental project. I feel if it came down to he or Wetzel on the Practice Squad that they would choose Gibson.
While the starting Offensive Line is set, there still remains quite a few questions around the depth behind them.
This is the most likely position to see an addition made to after the final cuts, while we all hope for the health of the starters, they will make sure the depth is improved before the opener against the New York Giants.