According to the Washington Post's Redskins Insider, the Redskins' current right tackle Chris Samuels may be hanging up his cleats this offseason due to neck and spinal issues, meaning that the market for quality offensive tackles in the top five picks may have picked up.
Several people familiar with Samuels's thinking, however, say they still expect him to retire because of the injury he suffered early in the Oct. 11 loss at Carolina. Samuels, who also has stenosis (or a narrowing) of the spinal column, has consulted with many specialists, several of whom warned him about the possibility of no longer being able to walk if he attempted to prolong his career, league sources said.
In terms of their draft preparations, the Redskins are expected to proceed as if Samuels will retire. He was the best lineman on one of the league's worst units last season, and it would appear that Allen and Coach Mike Shanahan must overhaul the ineffective group regardless of whether Samuels plays next season.
The Redskins, based on their record, currently have the number four pick in the 2010 NFL draft, one spot ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs, whose offensive line woes have been a defining part of their struggles for the last few years, will likely also be interested in an offensive tackle, possibly Oklahoma State's Russell Okung, to shore up what was a terrible offensive line in 2009. In years past this was less of a concern, since Redskins owner Daniel Snyder could usually be counted on to go after the highest-profile player in the draft or free agency, regardless of whether that player fit with the other pieces in place, which would have indicated the drafting of a quarterback after Jason Campbell was widely considered to have flopped last year.
For the 2010 season, however, Snyder has hired an actual general manager, Bruce Allen, to run his team. Allen, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has put a fairly high emphasis on drafting offensive linemen, selecting five of them in the third round or higher during his four years in Tampa Bay. Allen also showed little interest in drafting quarterbacks with early selections (highest one drafted, Josh Johnson, 5th round of 2008) and considering that the top two QBs in the 2010 draft class (Sam Bradford, Jimmy Claussen) are considered by many to be gambles for a pick that high, Washington may opt to shore up their wretched line situation and keep Campbell for one more season or see what they've already got in 2008 draft pick Colt Brennan.
In short, it's looking like the Redskins (or the Detroit Lions) will take Russell Okung off the board before the Chiefs get a shot at him, meaning Tennessee safety Eric Berry could very possibly be the the Chiefs' top pick of 2010. Which isn't a bad consolation prize.