Reporting Grant Paulsen
Recent history tells us that the Redskins respect the draft about as much as a dead-beat father respects parenthood.
If Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen are going to turn their organization into a winner they’ll have to initiate a draft-inspired renaissance.
The Redskins don’t make enough picks. They’ve selected 27 players in their last four drafts combined. Compare that to the New England Patriots, who have called the names of 24 draftees in just the past two seasons.
They also don’t hit on enough of the college players they select. The proof? 15 of the 27 players the Redskins have taken since 2007 are still on the roster. That’s 55 percent. In that same time the Pittsburgh Steelers have selected 34 players, of which 23 are still in Pittsburgh. They’ve hit on 68 percent of their picks.
The Green Bay Packers have made 34 picks during that window and 74 percent of those draftees are still with the team. New England has hit on 75 percent of its last 30 picks.
Washington’s lack of success in the past several drafts makes winning games an arduous task. In order for the team to surpass mediocrity, this year’s draft class has to be better than the four that preceded it.
Here are the results from Washington’s last four drafts:
2010 Draft Class:
1 – Trent Williams
*The only player from his draft class who made a measurable contribution in Washington as a rookie. Looks like he has the promise to develop into a stud at left tackle.
4 – Perry Riley
*Popular among defensive coaches and teammates. Battled an early-season foot injury and wasn’t utilized much on defense during regular season games. Could be a future starter at inside-linebacker.
6 – Dennis Morris
*Long-shot to have made the team had he have remained a Redskin through the end of training camp. He didn’t. Traded to St. Louis for another third-day draftee who was released within 24 hours of showing up at Redskins Park.
7 – Terrence Austin
*Ran minimal routes on game-day as a rookie but did make three catches late the in the season. Nice speed, good hands. Could be a nice role player moving forward.
7 – Erik Cook
*Spent most of the season on the practice squad. Was elevated to the 53 man roster last winter but never dressed on game-day. Has versatility to play all three spots on the interior of the line. How well he can play them will remain a question until we get to see him.
7 – Selvish Capers
*Was on the practice squad all of last season. Several veterans praised his work habits and progress over the course of the season.
Summary: Washington wasn’t able to add much high-end talent because it didn’t have a pick in the second (McNabb trade) or third (Jeremy Jarmon supplemental draft) rounds. The only guy from Mike Shanahan’s first draft class who saw legitimate play time was Williams, who has already become the Redskins’ best offensive lineman.
But regardless of what picks they lacked, having just one player from a draft class make an impact is not good enough. Shanahan and Bruce Allen will have to do better in their second attempt in DC.
NOTE: Rookie free agent additions Logan Paulsen and Keiland Williams both excelled as reserves on the Redskins’ offense last season. Evaluating and signing Paulsen, a stout run-blocking tight end, and Williams, currently the No. 2 tailback on the depth chart, was commendable.
2009 Draft Class:
1 – Brian Orakpo
*Two pro bowl appearances and 19.5 sacks in two seasons say this was a terrific pick. Orakpo isn’t a super-star yet but he has all the tools to become one. Additions like this happen when you have first round selections to make.
3 – Kevin Barnes
*Played well while out of position as a safety in his first two career starts late in 2010. Might be a stretch to enter the season as the No. 2 cornerback (if Carlos Rogers leaves), but it could be time for him to be Washington’s No. 3.
5 – Cody Glenn
*Cut during his first training camp. Despite not being good enough to make the Redskins in 2009, he has played in 19 games with the Colts in the past two seasons.
6 – Robert Henson
*Spent all of 2010 on the IR after playing in just six games as a rookie. Still a very intriguing prospect. Before injuring himself in the final game of the preseason last summer, he was the best player on the field. Could still find a role with the Redskins.
7 – Eddie Williams
*Didn’t survive roster cut-downs after suffering an injury during his first training camp. Now a member of the Chicago Bears.
7 – Marko Mitchell
*A fan favorite for his preseason productivity in 2009, Mitchell didn’t catch an NFL pass last season. He made four receptions with the Redskins as a rookie before heading to the Canadian Football League in 2010.
Summary: One of the six players selected has already proven that he’s going to be a very good player. Another has a chance to be a major contributor in 2011 in Barnes, and Henson still has a chance to develop into a player worthy of being drafted where he was. But half of Washington’s draftees are no longer with the team. Again: this is not good enough.
2008 Draft Class:
2 – Devin Thomas
*On a team desperate for help at wide receiver, Thomas was released four games into the season. Spent time on three teams last year.
2 – Fred Davis
*He’s only played like a second-round talent for one stretch: while starting for an injured Chris Cooley. Cooley’s a pro bowler, though, and he’s not going anywhere. The Redskins have to find a way to better-utilize his receiving skills or they should dangle him as trade bait.
2 – Malcolm Kelly
*A poorly handled hamstring injury resulted in him missing the entire 2010 campaign. He looks the part and the potential is still there, but he’s caught 28 passes in the three years since he was drafted.
3 – Chad Rinehart
*Struggled on the rare occasions when he played and eventually got injured after being elevated to a starting role. Made four starts in two seasons before his release.
4 – Justin Tryon
*Started just two games in DC before he was traded to the Colts on the final day of roster cuts last September. He played a bigger role for Indianapolis (12 games, six starts) than he ever had with the Redskins, even starting in a playoff game.
6 – Durant Brooks
*Spent six games and 26 punts in a Redskins uniform before being released in-season for his ineptitude.
6 – Kareem Moore
*Climbed to the top o Washington’s depth chart at free safety at training camp last summer but wasn’t healthy or effective in the 13 games that followed. He’ll back up OJ Atogwe as the center-fielder in the Redskins’ secondary this fall.
6 – Colt Brennan
*A preseason sensation who never saw action in a regular season game, Brennan was released very early during Mike Shanahan’s first training camp.
7 – Rob Jackson
*Has yet to start for the Redskins but did get signed off the practice squad and promoted to the active roster for the final two games of last season. Has shown flashes of being able to get to the quarterback in very few opportunities.
7 – Chris Horton
*Has already surpassed the expectations of a player drafted where he was but his play time and tackle totals have declined each year. He’s better suited for strong safety than he is to play free, which makes finding play time behind LaRon Landry difficult.
Summary: Only five of the ten players selected made it through their third season with the Redskins. This is a problem. None of the five players still on Washington’s roster are favorites to win starting jobs this fall. A breakthrough season from Kelly could slightly change the way the team’s 2008 draft is remembered, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be pretty.
Davis is a nice second tight end and Horton has proven to be a nice member of a safety rotation. But when you make 10 picks, you need to supplement your roster with more talent.
1 – LaRon Landry
*Back to playing his more natural strong safety position. He’s got a chance to be one of the NFL’s best players at his position. Succumbed to a season-ending injury after nine games last season. He was on pace to register 170 tackles. That’s video game stuff.
5 – Dallas Sartz
*Didn’t make the team and never played in a regular season NFL game.
6 – HB Blades
*Great value in the sixth-round. He was a tackling machine in college and he’s become a terrific special teamer and a strong back-up on the inside of the linebacking corps.
6 – Jordan Palmer
*Didn’t play for the Redskins but has spent the past three seasons backing up his brother in Cincinnati. He’s completed 10 passes for 59 yards in his career.
7 – Tyler Ecker
*Wasn’t able to crack Washington’s roster. Didn’t played in an NFL game.
Summary: Two of the team’s five draft picks are still members of Washington’s program. Landry is one of the Redskins’ best players and Blades is a quality reserve. Again, though: two players from a draft class aren’t enough.