On the 2005 Washington Redskins offensive line, the five starters are four exclamation points and one question mark. At 6-6, 345, Derrick Dockery has the size to dominate in the NFL. Whether he will or not is another story.
When the Redskins took Dockery out of Texas in the third round of the 2003 draft, they professed to be ecstatic. Vinny Cerrato and Steve Spurrier claimed that they had Dockery rated as a first-rounder on their board. He started the last 13 games of the season and, while the fact that he was a rookie showed often, his year was generally considered to be a success.
Last year, the best assessment of his performance was that he didn’t progress much. He failed to get much push in the center of the line, making for difficult running for Clinton Portis. It often appeared that the opposing defensive tackles had a book on him and that Dockery was trying to rely merely on his size to get the job done. You can’t overpower many NFL defensive linemen; you have to do your homework and win the battle with both brains and brawn. Dockery has the latter, we’ll see if he has the former.
He was banged up during his rookie year and couldn’t participate much in the team’s offseason workouts and minicamps "I really didn't get a chance to work out [last offseason]," Dockery said. "This year, I'm going to be able to really focus on getting stronger, getting my body right.”
Again, Dockery can get his body right, but if he doesn’t dedicate himself to some time studying his opponents and refining his technique accordingly, he’ll continue to impress with his size but disappoint with his play.
As of now, he’s penciled in as a starter whereas tackles Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels, right guard Randy Thomas and center Casey Rabach are on the top of the depth chart at their positions in indelible ink. If Dockery falters, Joe Gibbs won’t hesitate to make Ray Brown the oldest guard ever to start and NFL game, after he became the oldest tackle ever to start last year.
Remember that it was Spurrier and Cerrato who had Dockery so highly touted. Players selected by a previous administration have to prove themselves all over again, as Patrick Ramsey is learning.
Dockery likes his chances of being successful, but realized that he has work to do. “I think I have a bright future,” he said. “I need to be humble, but at the same time be hungry." As long as he’s talking about being hungry in the film room and not so much at the training table, that will be a good thing for the Redskins.