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Question of the week | Who will be Washington's starting LT?

06122024 Mini Camp Wednesday Practice KC55169

The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.

The Washington Commanders made several efforts to update their roster this offseason, and it has helped answer some of the questions about the roster heading into Dan Quinn's first year as the head coach.

For example, we now know the future of the quarterback position will rest with LSU Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels, even though he hasn't officially been named the starter yet. The linebacker position, one of the biggest weak spots on the team for the last few seasons, has been upgraded with the likes of Frankie Luvu and Bobby Wagner, so much so that they are considered by some to be the best linebacker group in the NFL.

While some of those concerns have been put to rest, there are still a few question marks surrounding the roster. That's what training camp is for, but since we're all (im)patiently waiting for the first practice on July 24, we're going to try solving some of those problems ourselves.

From now until the players report for camp, will examine three main questions about the team. We'll start on the offensive line, where arguably the biggest query resides.

Who will be the starting left tackle?

There are some who will tell you that the difference between left and right offensive tackle is less distinctive than it was 20 years ago. Today's defensive linemen all boast high athleticism, so every offensive linemen, regardless of where they are on the line, must learn how to pass block.

This is true, but protecting a quarterback's blindside, especially one that was drafted No. 2 overall, is still of paramount importance. And while the Commanders made multiple adjustments to the offensive line since the end of the 2023 season, there isn't a clear answer on who will run out as the starter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.

New names emerge every year during training camp, but for now, it looks like there will be three candidates vying for the job this year: Cornelius Lucas, Trent Scott and third-round pick Brandon Coleman.

Check out some of our players wearing the iconic gold pants ahead of the 2024 season. (Photos by Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)

Let's take a longer look at each of those players, starting with Scott. An undrafted free agent from Grambling, Scott played for the Chargers, Panthers and Steelers before signing with the Commanders in 2023. He appeared in 10 games and played well in his two starts at the end of the season, allowing zero sacks and just one quarterback hit.

Scott has played 71 games in his career, but he was a backup for 49 of them. His best season, according to Pro Football Focus, was with the Steelers in 2022.

Like Scott, Lucas has been more of a depth piece than starter, but he has been in the league for much longer and spent the last four seasons with the Commanders, where he's been a starter for half of his 62 appearances. Three of Lucas best season grades from PFF came while playing for Washington, and injuries led to him being the starter for the last three games of 2023.

Lucas re-signed with the Commanders with the promise that he would be given an opportunity to compete, and he's taken that seriously by taking detailed notes in meetings and applying them in practice.

Coleman was considered a guard during the draft process, but the Commanders took him from TCU asserting that he could be a good tackle at the NFL level. It's almost impossible to learn much about an offensive lineman in June, when contact and pads are prohibited, but Coleman did look technically sound in all the drills, showing quick feet and a solid punch. While it did take him some time to adjust in team drills, Coleman did show some growth working against an NFL pass rush and even received some first team reps.

Quinn said the competition at left tackle will take some time to work itself out, but the team does seem confident in its options. They could have added one of the top offensive tackles on the market in free agency, traded for a player or drafted one at No.36. They elected to take none of those options, choosing to ride with either Scott, Coleman or Lucas.

It is understandable that fans want to throw Coleman out there as the Day 1 starter. The Commanders need to find a long-term answer at the position, and it could make sense to give him as many game reps as possible. His best season at TCU came when he was the primary player at left tackle, and while his height and arm length suggest he would be best suited at guard, his feet are quick enough to keep up with more athletic defensive ends.

Experience, however, is an important asset, especially for an offensive line that is protecting a rookie quarterback. That was part of the reasoning behind signing Tyler Biadasz to be the starting center. Biadasz is a seasoned veteran, and his knowledge will help Daniels as he learns how to be an NFL signal-caller.

That's why it's a strong possibility that Lucas will be the Day 1 starter. Lucas is not a perfect player, but he has played well in stretches and given some stability to a position that has been ravaged by injuries for the past two seasons. He is willing to rework his playing style, according to position coach Bobby Johnson, and applying himself so that he can earn the job for himself. And as someone who has more starts at tackle than any other player on the roster, he has earned at least some consideration.

Coleman will still have a fair shot. General manager Adam Peters made that promise not long after Coleman was drafted. There are signs that Coleman could be a good NFL tackle, as Peters said he would be, but there's no telling when that will be. It could be by Week 1, but based on the evidence that most linemen need a year or two before hitting their stride, it isn't a guarantee.

So, it's time for a prediction. Anything can happen in training camp, but unless Scott or Coleman shows serious improvement, it is likely that Lucas will start the season opener based on his experience, work ethic and ability to provide stable offensive line play. Will he stay the starter for the entire season? That is up for debate. It's entirely possible that Coleman shows enough growth by Week 8 that a change could occur by then or sooner.

For now, though, we have to go with what we know, and we know much more about Lucas as a starter than any other tackle on the roster.

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