Sunday, May 1, 2011

Washington Redskins Draft Recap/Grade

It’s Sunday, May 01, 2011 and that means the 2011 NFL Draft is finished. My site-record-viewed 1st Round Mock Draft was off… WAY off. And while I’ll be focusing mainly on the Redskins, I want to take a look at several occurrences that may have really caused us to focus on the draft the way we did.

The first big shocker in my eyes was the Broncos’ selection of Von Miller. Denver is converting back to a 4-3 defense, and Miller’s talents in rushing the passer are more suited as a 3-4 OLB. I can’t imagine him putting his hand in the dirt, and I don’t see him playing a 4-3 OLB where he’ll be in coverage a little more. However you slice it though, I still see Denver as a possible trade partner for the Redskins to dump Haynesworth, who would be able to play the style of football he prefers under Fox… no, not the lazy kind, the kind that actually gets to attack the quarterback.

The Atlanta Falcons packaged everything to acquire who I believed was the best WR in the draft, and maybe the last 4-5 drafts in Julio Jones, who I had coming to us at the 10th pick and believe he could have been ours. This move was stupid for the Falcons because of how much they gave up for him, how much mid-round talent there was at the position, and the fact that WR was by far not a weakness at all. In the playoffs, Matt Ryan threw poorly; making horrible decisions and underthrowing good routes, even to his All-Pro WR Roddy White. And no, Ryan doesn’t shoulder all the blame for the collapse… the DEFENSE fell apart significantly. I can’t be convinced that the Bills wouldn’t have taken what the Falcons offered so the Falcons could have acquired a true need in DT Dareus… it astonishes me that the Falcons continue to think that adding offensive tools while their defense lacks is what is going to put them over the hump. Look within the division at the Saints, who addressed offense for years and didn’t get it done, even with the 1st ranked passing offense and near-record-setting Brees… they won their championship when they added to a struggling defense and found themselves the genius of Gregg Williams. Atlanta’s woes will not end, and they gave up all hopes of finding that defensive piece next year when they fall flat on their face in the Playoffs.

Then you have the absurdity of the Titans taking Jake Locker with the 8th pick in the draft. I still think Shanahan might have taken a chance if Locker was available.

And then the Minnesota Vikings taking Christian Ponder, who may have actually been on Shanahan’s list also. Minnesota has been rumored for a while as a possible landing-place for McNabb via trade, so there may be value still coming from Minnesota if the league ever re-opens.

But enough with all the speculation and what-if’s… let’s focus on the here-now.

The Redskins entered the Draft with few selections, and were without a 3rd and 4th round pick. Thanks to finding great value in trades, the Redskins ultimately walked away with 12 picks, and at one point were in possession of 13. You can only enter a season with 53 players on your roster, and only 45 can suit up every game. You can have practice squad players, but they’re free to be acquired by other teams. Assuming the Redskins keep all 12 picks on board, they’ve overhauled 1/5th of the active roster.

But let’s face facts, someone for whatever reason will not make this team more than likely, either being outcompeted, not talented enough, not adept at playing special teams as well as holding a roster spot. Maybe a free agent is available eventually at that position who offers more than an unproven rookie. But here is the list of the Redskins’ draftees.


Round 1, Pick 16: Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue
Round 2, Pick 41: Jarvis Jenkins, DL Clemson
Round 3, Pick 79: Leonard Hankerson, WR Miami
Round 4, Pick 105: Roy Helu, Jr., RB Nebraska
Round 5, Pick 146: Dejon Gomes, DB Nebraska
Round 5, Pick 155: Niles Paul, WR Nebraska
Round 6, Pick 177: Evan Royster, RB Penn State
Round 6, Pick 178: Aldrick Robinson, WR SMU

Round 7, Pick 213: Brandon Thompson, DB Boise State
Round 7, Pick 217: Maurice Hurt, OL Florida
Round 7, Pick 224: Markus White, DE Florida State
Round 7, Pick 253: Chris Nield, NT West Virginia

What I like most about the Redskins’ draft is that they accumulated a large number of picks, something we’ve been clamoring for now for years. The Redskins haven’t picked in all 7 rounds in a long time, and the fact they were able to do that and then some speaks volumes about how brilliantly Shanahan and Allen negotiate through the draft. Now, did they find talent?

The first thing I see when I look at this group of guys is that they picked up good-character guys. Sure there’s the occasional alcohol-related charge, but it is college we’re talking. What I see is a bunch of well-mannered young players, all of whom are described as having a will to get better, play harder, and learn. Sure, we probably don’t have 12 Pro Bowl guys in this draft, but we’ve got 12 guys who will compete, and will either earn their job by competing, or make someone already on the team or a veteran FA earn their spot through competing. There hasn’t been competition for the Redskins in a long time to this degree.

I thought our defensive line with the exception of Haynesworth last season was actually a strong point. I thought Anthony Bryant was a competent Nose Tackle who could honestly do better with more experience on Sundays. So adding Jenkins and White to the mix at DE, I feel very good about the possibility that we’ve got all the depth we need at the 2 end spots. I think Jeremy Jarmon either has to be stable around 300 pounds playing the DE position, or re-lose some of that weight and move to OLB. Otherwise, I think he’s a player with quality and a bit of value if we decide we’d like to package him up in a trade. But speaking of the Nose Tackle and Anthony Bryant, the final selection of Nields may have proven to be a huge steal. He’s accustomed to taking on multiple blockers and West Virginia’s defense was one of the highest rated in the nation because of this guys selfless play. He’ll definitely be an anchor and help out the DE’s AND the LB’s.

Kerrigan is a guy I had at top-10 value, who slipped due to trades and teams having other needs. He was a DE in college, but will be moving to OLB in our 3-4 defense to play opposite Orakpo. Standing up, his value rises for me personally as he’s got tremendous speed and strength that amplifies by him not having his hand in the dirt. A fact about Kerrigan people may not be familiar with is that he played TE for a long time in his football life, where he was an exceptional route-runner and pass-catcher. Point being? He’s familiar with how a TE runs routes, and will be valuable in coverage as well as his ability to rush the passer.

Before I continue, I also want to point out that the Redskins drafted several people who not only played multiple positions, but a couple of them played both sides of the ball, and most of our picks contributed in college on special teams and excelled at it.

Anyways, next up is Hankerson. Julio Jones and AJ Green were in a class of their own, but Hankerson’s talents are extraordinary. He won’t blow by people left and right, but he’s got the speed to find separation against most corners, and he’s a big, physical kid who can block and get off of press coverage. He’ll go over the middle as well, which should open things up big time for 2 TE sets and RB’s coming out of the backfield. His height and vertical ability should help establish him a target in the red zone. Plus, he had a school record at the U, which has produced quantity of quality in the NFL over the last 25 years… so not only is he in good company, he exceeded what some of the best did in their time in college.

Niles Paul will be my next focus… he’s another big-body guy who stands at 6’1. He’s got very deceptive speed and may be quicker than his 40 times. He’s a good blocker, a good returner, and he also blocked well on special teams, so he could be a “lead blocker” for Brandon Banks on kick returns. He’ll go over the middle and absorb contact… and he had an outstanding career in Nebraska who is a run-heavy team… so his potential to move the chains and be productive is very well noted.

I’m not that up on Aldrick Robinson, but from what I hear, he’s a speedy guy with solid hands and he’s willing to play his heart out however he is asked to do so. If he shows that’s not just words, I’ll be more than happy with a quality 6th round pick.

Dejon Gomes and Brandyn Thompson are both quality picks as well. I thought Gomes could have been available a little later than he was selected, but his experience playing corner as well as safety, and his physicality and speed could have drawn him off the board at any given time. Thompson can be a very physical corner and he likes to take a chance here or there which can cost him, but he’ll learn to play patient and let things come to him… the guy knows how to play the ball though and likes to take it away.

Roy Helu, Jr. and Evan Royster are both VERY competent and productive backs. Helu very possibly and likely could have, and should have gone much higher than he did… but Shanahan’s patience may have paid off as he possibly found a RB of greater quality than he’s used to in the mid-rounds… and we all know Shanahan picking a RB in the mid-rounds is like striking oil every time he does it. Royster could have been that magic guy if Helu was off the board… so yes, I believe we’ve got 2 very good backs to add to our stable, and with Torain and Keiland Williams, they may have 4 guys we can carry with us for the next 4-7 years.

Then we have Maurice Hurt, who I believe may be the steal of this year’s draft. The guy was overshadowed by two OT’s from Florida, so his value dropped a bit. But his athleticism, speed, and size make him a very viable option on the interior of the line. He’s also had experience at Center and Long Snapper in his career, so Center could be as much an option as Guard. He’s got some growing to do still on the field, some technique issues to iron out… and they CAN be ironed out… but I think he’s a guy who when he finally gets his chance, will make an impact and become a mainstay.

Now, for all you Cowboys Redskins fans who were upset with us constantly trading back when there were big-name talents on the board, I remind you a name isn’t everything and Cerrato is living proof of that draft philosophy not working. We’ve been praying for this change… now we have it and you’re not happy? I’m not worried about the QB. When Shanahan said he had a plan for the draft to build and find quality players… we laughed because we had no picks… but the man went in and worked this draft the way the Steelers, Colts, and Patriots have always drafted… and I’ll take those 3 successful philosophies over the philosophy we got used to over the past decade. When he says we’ll find a QB… I trust him. Sure he said it with McNabb… but I think Shanahan had hopes he could actually dish McNabb off anyways and just needed a stop-gap. And you never know who Shanahan likes in next year’s draft anyways… and there’s very little evidence he can’t find a way to sneak into whatever spot it is he needs to acquire that selection.

Redskins Draft Grade: A+

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