The Redskins turned to the offensive line in the third round of the draft -- but perhaps not at the position many expected.
In a mild surprise, Washington selected guard/center Josh LeRibeus with the 71st overall pick in the draft Friday night. The Redskins had traded the 69th overall pick to Buffalo, receiving a 7th round pick (217th overall).
There was a lot of talk about the Redskins needing a right tackle. But coach Mike Shanahan didn't sound as if that were a direction he was inclined to go in a Wednesday press conference. He pointed out that tackle was supposed to have more depth in next year's draft. And he pointed out how well Jammal Brown's hip was coming along thanks to yoga and Pilates.
But they do need to add depth inside. Starting left guard Kory Lichtensteiger is coming off a torn ACL. But last year's seventh-rounder, Maurice Hurt, is still developing and third-year Eric Cook struggled at center this past season.
LeRibeus was projected by some publications to go in the third to fourth round. Others pegged him as a later-round pick. Pro Football Weekly considered him a "tough, competitive, try-hard, bump-and-steer blocker with potential to be tried at center." But PFW also called him a "plodder" with a "dumpy-looking physique." The Sporting News projected him as a third-round pick to Baltimore in its last mock draft.
Dan Shonka, the general manager of Ourlads and a former NFL scout, said LeRibeus is a "tough kid, but was over drafted." However, his description of LeRibeus fits what the Redskins want from their guards in a zone system: "Slides off well on combination blocks.... He is just asked to screen off in their run game. Better athletically than advertised."
Here's what the Sporting News' Russ Lande wrote about him.
LeRibeus started all 13 games in 2009 and '11 at left guard. He appeared in 10 games as a redshirt freshman, starting two games at right guard.
LeRibeus lost 70 pounds a year ago after missing 2010 for academic reasons (he switched his major and did not have enough credits to qualify),
"I lost a toddler off the side of my body," LeRibeus said, laughing, when asked about his weight. "It just skyrocketed over the summer. I got back and everyone was like, 'What the [bleep] did you do. I got my [expletive] together from there and it worked out well for me."
Here's how he lost the weight: "I ended up moving away from home, so I got away from mom's cooking and that helped a lot. Bit of a tight budget so I bought chicken at Tom Thumb."
LeRibeus said every team he worked out for had him take snaps at center, too. He played in a man blocking scheme at SMU, but said he played in a zone scheme during the Shrine Game. The Redskins use a zone blocking scheme.
"I love it," LeRibeus said. "I definitely felt more at home, just getting a three-point stance and exploding off the ball is definitely something I feel more comfortable with."
And, of course, the requisite question was posed to him about the Cowboys since he grew up in the Dallas area.
"Definitely no," he said when asked if he grew up a Cowboys fan. "You either hate them or love them. I hate them, don't worry."
Shanahan declined to comment.