Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Washington Redskins Gave Up Too Much?

In the aftermath of the huge trade where the Washington Redskins acquired the #2 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft from the St. Louis Rams, plenty of people are implying that the Redskins gave up way too much for a 4-spot jump in the draft.

That’s misconception #1 I’ve seen—the Redskins gave up four draft picks—and it is the main reason nobody doubting this trade makes any sense whatsoever. The Redskins didn’t give up 4 draft picks; they gave up 3 and swapped 1.

Now for the price that was paid in the deal. The Redskins swapped their #6 overall pick for the Rams’ #2 overall pick. They traded away the second-round draft pick in this year’s draft, the first-round selection in 2013, and the first-round selection in 2014. People have said it’s the most given up since the Herschel Walker deal…

That’s misconception #2 I’ve seen—the Redskins traded away more than anyone since the Herschel Walker debacle—and it is the second reason why nobody doubting this trade makes any sense whatsoever. When the New Orleans Saints traded for the right to draft Ricky Williams, they gave up an entire draft, literally. Last year, the Atlanta Falcons gave up nearly an entire draft for the rights to select Julio Jones, a need that they didn’t have and that proved not to be of any worth anyways.

For reference, the New Orleans Saints got 3,000 yards out of Ricky Williams in 3 seasons with the team prior to trading him away to the Miami Dolphins. That’s good production; however, the Saints didn’t manage to get production in the only statistic that matters—winning.

The Atlanta Falcons traded for the right to acquire Wide Receiver Julio Jones, expressing the belief that was their only need, despite the facts pointing to the contrary that defense and assistance in the run game in relief of Michael Turner would need to be the focus. In the playoffs, the proof was in the pudding for the latter: Michael Turner was shut down, Matt Ryan crumbled with all the pressure on his arm alone with all the weapons in the passing game at his disposal, and the team couldn’t score any points on offense, let alone get in position for a field goal. They finished their playoff game against the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants with two points [a defensive score] on a safety.

The Washington Redskins have struggled to find a franchise quarterback [literally forever, but especially] during the Dan Snyder era. It has been the Achilles heel. Nobody selected to play the role has been the guy, particularly because the Redskins haven’t been in position to grab the guy because they’ve always been just a little better than the worst. Now they’ve got a chance to grab their guy, and hopefully he’s everything they need in a QB and not as bad as everything they’ve had.

Robert Griffin III provides the opportunity to open the offense back up, to score points, to control the game, and to not turn the football over and cost the team opportunities to put points on the board, and also keep the defense fresh. What he also provides is the opportunity to win those close games and win enough of them to get into the playoffs; this is where things get interesting.

If the Redskins are able to make the playoffs this season and next, the first round picks the St. Louis Rams acquired turn into, at the best, 20th overall. Picks 20-32 in the NFL Draft rarely tend to land superstar players, rather role players who compliment the superstars.

Now, even considering that, the Rams will likely still have earlier picks anyways, which could land them superstars… and that brings me back to the article I linked to posted at the Bleacher Report by Jack Gorman. Notice the swayed reporting calling RG3 a potential franchise QB, while saying the Redskins essentially traded away 4 superstars. Why do those guys get called superstars already while RG3 is only labeled with potential? Don’t sway, Jack.

I recently saw numbers suggesting that 33% of first-round picks end up being superstars, 33% end up being average players, and 34% end up being busts, at least with the team that drafts them. So here the Redskins are, hoping they’ll land their superstar while trading away an average player and a bust.

Now, did the Redskins give up too much? Whether RG3 is great or not, no. Mike Shanahan drafted 12 players last season after starting the draft with only 6 picks. They’ve still got 7 selections this year, and 7 next year. Chances are he’ll get even more. It’s also worth noting that Mike Shanahan’s best work in the NFL Draft comes in rounds 3-6, where he strikes oil and finds gold with the majority of his picks in the mid-rounds of the draft. I’ll argue, and win, that he’s the most successful coach at drafting good-to-great talent in rounds 3-6 of all time.

Then also consider that last year’s second-round pick of DE Jarvis Jenkins resulted in season-ending injury in the preseason, so his return next year is the equivalent to the loss of this year’s second-round pick. In the end, it will take until 2014 to know what the Redskins really lost. For now, we can only guess whether it was too much or not. But regardless of what those picks end up being, all that matters is if RG3 ends up being the guy the Redskins want and need, or if he doesn’t. That’s the only measure of if he’s worth it or not.

Jack Gorman, or anyone else, feel free to leave a comment or discuss on Twitter (@dontlaughpeople, @Sean_Bishop).