To many, including former offensive lineman Trevor Matich, Washington's unit upfront on offense was a pleasant surprise during the 2020 season. Once a group filled with poor performances and injuries, the most recent campaign provided a much greater semblance of consistency.
Led by veterans like Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses and featuring younger players with upside such as Wes Martin, Geron Christian and Saahdiq Charles, there are reasons for optimism as the 2021 season approaches.
“It’s kind of weird for me to hear myself say that the offensive line is in pretty good shape right now," Matich said on Washington Football Today. "Not great shape but much better than it’s been.”
As Matich alluded to, there is still room for improvement along the offensive line moving forward. With free agency now in the rearview mirror, the opportunity for Washington to add an impact player and depth will come in the NFL Draft. Surveying the class of offensive linemen available, Matich sees ways for Washington to bolster its roster in the first round and beyond.
Starting with the No. 19 pick, should Washington want to look at the offensive line when it gets on the clock, Matich has a few names to keep an eye on. Given that the top of the draft will feature what he sees as "elite" talent at quarterback and wide receiver, there is a chance that some of the top offensive linemen could slip closer to Washington's range.
If that is the case, Christian Darrisaw is on Matich's radar. The tackle out of Virginia Tech -- who has been linked to Washington in a few mock drafts -- is someone that could make an immediate impact for the unit up front. Because of that, though, Matich is unsure if he will even make it to No. 19
"If he falls to Washington there, I wouldn’t be upset if they took him and never looked back," Matich said. "Because he has the fluidity, the strength and the nastiness, I mean the mean streak, to not just be a tone-setter on this team but also a guy that can erase the elite pass rush on the other side. Because of all that, I wonder if he’ll be available at 19.”
In a scenario where Darrisaw is already off the board when Washington gets ready to make its pick, Alijah Vera-Tucker is another prospect Matich is high on. The versatile product out of USC may be raw in some areas, but he's someone that projects to be a true starter at multiple spots.
“He can start at tackle, he can start at guard and he can also be that valuable swing lineman that can give you quality reps at almost any position along the line while he’s developing into a starter as a backup," Matich said. "If he’s available he’s another guy, if they take him it wouldn’t bother me at all."
Again, this is a player that Matich could see going earlier in the first round, leaving Washington on the outside looking in once again.
Yet, Matich believes that even if Washington can't land a top option or opts to use the first pick on another position there is no reason to hit the panic button just yet. Talent still exists in the following rounds and there are a few names that Matich feels could bring Washington value.
The first is tackle Walker Little out of Stanford, someone Matich sees as a potential second-round match for Washington. Little had a lot of hype around him a few years ago, but an injury in 2019 and a decision to opt-out in 2020 has lessened his draft stock.
To Matich, that creates an opportunity for Washington to buy low on someone that could become a starter in the future given his skillset.
“He’s still, with all that hype, has got great feet, he’s got long arms and if you’re willing to let him develop a little bit. Make up for a lot of the playing that he lost in college because of injury and opt-out, he’s a guy that will be available outside of the first round," Matich said.
There's also Jackson Carman out of Clemson, who Matich says has as much "raw talent" as anyone in the draft but just needs to put it all together consistently to reach the next level and Kendrick Green from Illinois.
With Green, who has lined up at center and guard, Matich is a big fan of the physicality he brings on each and every snap.
“Green is one of the most explosive linemen in college football. He fires out of his stance with explosiveness like you rarely see and then he shocks defenders and pancakes them," Matich said. "He’s one of the best in college football at that.”
“It’s one of those guys that coaches say ‘Hey I can get this guy coached up.’ He’s a guy that should be or could be a really interesting player with interior positional versatility," Matich said.
It would benefit the Washington Football Team to address the offensive line in the upcoming NFL Draft, whether that comes in the first round or beyond. The foundation for success is there, but other pieces are still needed to reach the next level.
As Matich sees it, there are a few options out there that can make that possible.