Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Skins' goal tonight: Don't do anything stupid

I haven't written about the NFL Draft for a few months, but honestly, not a whole lot has changed since then. Sure, some players have moved up and down the draft board, but for the most part, there's still plenty of question marks surrounding who teams are actually targeting and when certain players will fly off the draft board. This year's draft seems different than most: No one is sure who will be drafted No. 1 by the Panthers, and that first pick could completely alter many teams' strategies on picking a player or trading up/moving down.

In the first of those draft posts, I argued that if the Redskins decide that taking a quarterback (either Cam Newton or someone else) is absolutely necessary, then I'm hesitantly on board. (My second post on the draft also dealt with the possibility of taking a quarterback.) I don't like to provide quotes from old posts, but I still feel the same way:
Of course, it's all about being able to build a franchise. The Redskins are not ready to compete for a championship; they need to add more pieces before that can happen. So all I'm trying to say is that the Redskins shouldn't reach for a quarterback so early in the draft if they're not sure he's the guy. Again, there's no guarantee the quarterback they select is going to be great, but there seems to be a little less pressure and difficulty in picking another position of need -- and the Redskins obviously have plenty of those.

I'm a fan of taking the best available player, and I think the Redskins should do that -- even if it's a quarterback. But they should also be exploring the possibility of taking any other position -- offense or defense -- or even trading back to replenish some of the picks they gave away when trading for Donovan McNabb and Jammal Brown.

In the end, if the Redskins do decide that Newton is the guy, that's fine. But he's not going to be the team's savior with so many other gaping holes on the roster, and it would be wrong of them to believe that. Shanahan and Allen have a ton of work to do, and hopefully they are not solely focused on finding a quarterback. This team needs much more help than that.
The Redskins have a lot of positions to fill, but if they do somehow identify their quarterback of the future and select one who develops into a solid starter, that will be a tremendous help to a franchise that hasn't had a good, let alone great, quarterback for a very long time.

But lots of players have been linked to the Redskins at No. 10 -- many mock drafts have predicted one of a few quarterbacks (Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, maybe Newton if he falls) or several of the consensus top 15 players -- but no one really knows what's going to happen. Here are the possibilities (remember, players cannot be traded until the current CBA/financial situation is resolved):

1) The Redskins stand pat at No. 10 and select the best available player on their draft board. That may be a quarterback, and it may not. If it is a quarterback, then both Shanahans must be convinced that he is the guy.

2) The Redskins could choose to trade up -- which would probably be for a quarterback. (Definitely against this decision at all costs. Stop trading draft picks!)

3) Trade down, targeting a quarterback or another position later in the draft. Many analysts don't believe this draft is very deep, but if the Redskins can replenish some of their picks and also get a few players they were targeting anyway, that would be a win-win. (Apparently this is a possibility, according to Mike Shanahan, but really everything else is too.)

There isn't a lot of leeway here for the Redskins; they don't have the luxury of messing around with some of their picks to go after some project player who won't produce in three years. They need to get younger, and they need to get better. And -- this needs to be repeated as much as necessary -- they need to stop trading away draft picks. To me, that would be way worse than simply drafting a quarterback at No. 10.

Only the first round takes place tonight. Here's the draft schedule:

Rd. 1: Thurs., April 28, 8 p.m. ET
Rds. 2-3: Fri., April 29, 6 p.m. ET
Rds. 4-7: Sat., April 30, 12 ET

And here are the current selections the Redskins have:

Round 1, pick 10 (10 overall)
Round 2, pick 9 (41 overall)
Round 5, pick 13 (144 overall)
Round 5, pick 24 (155 overall, from New Orleans)
Round 6, pick 12 (177 overall)
Round 7, pick 11 (213 overall)
Round 7, pick 22 (224 overall, from Indianapolis)
Round 7, pick 52 (253 overall, compensatory selection)

Also, here is the complete draft order. So enjoy the draft and hope the Redskins don't do anything crazy.

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