Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Revisiting the Redskins' draft choices the last few years

Every time fans or talking heads suggest the Redskins should trade draft picks away, it makes me laugh. Not only because the Redskins are deficient in overall team talent, but because they've been trading away draft selections for years, and it hasn't been an effective strategy. Dan Snyder and the team's front office has (until recently, hopefully) completely refused to hold onto their allotment of draft picks.

Is it really surprising that the team's most successful draft in years may end up being last year's draft, when the team traded down a few times and selected 12 players? Time will tell how good those 12 players are, but most of them contributed at least something this season, which is a lot more than can be said about most of the team's drafts in the last decade-plus.

Mike Shanahan may have the final word on personnel decisions, but the Redskins' scouting and personnel departments haven't changed that much. Besides the departure of Vinny Cerrato, the guy previously calling the shots, things aren't much different. And that should be reason enough to hold onto as many picks as possible: More picks mean more chances.

Let's take a look at the last three drafts (2009, 2010, and 2011). In those drafts, starting with 2009, the Redskins had six, seven (third-rounder used in 2009 supplemental draft), and 12 draft choices, respectively. Take a guess which one's better.


1st: Brian Orakpo
3rd: Kevin Barnes
5th: Cody Glenn
6th: Robert Henson
7th: Eddie Williams
7th: Marko Mitchell


1st: Trent Williams
3rd: Jeremy Jarmon (2009 supplemental pick)
4th: Perry Riley
6th: Dennis Morris
7th: Terrence Austin
7th: Erik Cook
7th: Selvish Capers


1st: Ryan Kerrigan
2nd: Jarvis Jenkins
3rd: Leonard Hankerson
4th: Roy Helu
5th: Dejon Gomes
5th: Niles Paul
6th: Evan Royster
6th: Aldrick Robinson
7th: Brandyn Thompson
7th: Maurice Hurt
7th: Markus White
7th: Chris Neild

Again, who knows how all of those 2011 picks will pan out. But it's probably a good idea to stick with the 2011 strategy over the other two years. Yes, I know that this analysis is only looking back at the last three drafts, and the Redskins have obviously picked some talented players in previous drafts. But they've done so without stockpiling picks, which has also prevented them from creating depth at key positions.

The only players from 2009 and 2010 who have really contributed are Orakpo, Williams, and Riley. Barnes has received playing time, but he hasn't been very good. He also may not be on the roster next season because of his overall ineffectiveness. Austin and Cook haven't done much either. Of those 13 picks, only those six are still with the team -- which is hilariously bad. The worst pick of the bunch is probably Jarmon, selected in the 2009 supplemental draft. The Redskins forfeited a third-round pick for Jarmon's services, and right now he's out of the league. Jarmon was originally selected as a defensive end when the Redskins utilized a 4-3 defense, so the selection was at least defensible at the time. But after being traded to and subsequently released by the Broncos earlier this season, Jarmon may not get another NFL opportunity. Either way, I guess, that pick was wasted.


If you're on board with the Redskins trading away future draft picks in order to get Andrew Luck (unlikely) or Robert Griffin III (more possible), that's just fine. I'd be extremely happy if the Redskins finally acquired/drafted a franchise quarterback. That's the team's biggest need. But trading away multiple draft choices, particularly first- and second-round picks, is not something that I agree with, especially when examining the team's draft resume the last few years. Obviously it's a requirement to analyze each trade individually, but trading up in the first few rounds is rarely cheap.

Yes, the NFL is a quarterbacks' league; most great teams have outstanding quarterbacks. But I shudder at the thought of the Redskins giving up the farm for a quarterback who ends up with the skills of someone like Mark Sanchez. Give me 2011's strategy instead, even if that means missing out on Luck and Griffin.