Rookie offensive tackle Tom Compton on Wednesday became the last healthy member of the Redskins’ nine-member draft class to make the active roster. He was promoted from the practice squad to fill suspended cornerback Cedric Griffin’s roster spot.
Compton, a sixth-round pick out of FCS program South Dakota, is the 10th offensive lineman on Washington’s active roster. Fortunately for the Redskins, though, they haven’t had to test that depth.
Washington is one of only five NFL teams to start the same five offensive linemen in every game this season, according to ESPN.
The line languished last season with first-string left tackle Trent Williams, left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and right tackle Jammal Brown out of the lineup. The performance dropoff helped to cripple the offense as a whole. This season, as quarterback Robert Griffin III and a new cast of playmakers fuel the league’s top-ranked offense in yards-per-play, the value of Washington’s healthy offensive line can’t be overstated.
“You can’t just have six or seven; you have to have 11 guys,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “It is coordination of our offensive line. It is a group of five guys working together, including the tight end the majority of the time, to dictate that running game or that play-action game. When everybody is hitting on all cylinders then you have a chance to move the football. But if you have one or two missing pieces, it is really hard to be in the elite status week in and week out.”
Compton, who has practiced at left and right tackle, is behind veterans Jordan Black and Maurice Hurt on the depth chart, so it’s unlikely he’ll play offense this season. He might not even make the active roster on game days. But he believes he’s much more capable of playing well now than he was at the end of the preseason.
“It’s pretty remarkable, I think, the amount of stuff I’ve learned over these 12 weeks,” Compton said. “You get to watch so much film of guys doing their job right. You give a good look. I go against the [starters] on defense every week, so going against that front seven that we have helps out so much.”
In preseason games, Compton sometimes had difficultly blocking pass rushers that changed direction during their rush. For example, he would struggle to recover when rushers set him up outside and made a hard move back inside.
He has spent the last three months working on those deficiencies.
“It was making sure that I was working on all the different types of protections, working on my footwork on every type of play, just sharpening it up because there was clearly a lot of work to be done from the start,” he said. “Proper footwork, hand placement, knowing where to go on every play. I feel like I’ve come a long way for that.”