Grading the Redskins Drafts

After the Redskins started the season 3-1, many fans hoped they were coming out of the rebuilding phase faster than anticipated. Then, they went 1-7 (with six straight losses) and it became clear that it would likely be two more years before they could be considered serious contenders. Now at 4-8 they are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. So, I thought now would be an opportune time to look ahead to their future by grading the two drafts General Manager Bruce Allen and Head Coach Mike Shanahan oversaw in the rebuilding process.



Round 1 (4)    LT Trent Williams Oklahoma

Williams has shown that he has the talent to become the rock of the offensive line. He has been a bit inconsistent, but when the line around him gets better that shouldn’t be an issue anymore. He has the speed and strength to get to the second level on run blocking. In pass protection he has proven he can stop elite pass-rushers like DeMarcus Ware.

On the downside, Williams has character issues that may affect his NFL career. He has lost his temper on the field before; earlier this season he pushed a 49ers defender after the whistle and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. This weekend, news came out that he had failed three drug tests and will be suspended for four games.

If Williams can mature and keep his conduct in check he can be a franchise player and a potential Pro Bowler. If continues to make stupid mistakes he may find himself out of the NFL and considered a huge bust.

Verdict: Incomplete


Round 4 (103) LB Perry Riley LSU

Riley had a disappointing 2010. He didn’t get on the field often and when he did he made bad mistakes. He’s turned it around this season though. He overtaken Rocky McIntosh as London Fletcher’s starting middle linebacker counterpart. This is thanks in part to his good run defense. He recognizes the run quickly and wraps up well. He had 14 tackles in the Seahawks game. He still needs to work on his pass coverage, but overall he’s been a pleasant surprise this year.

Verdict: Pass


Round 7 (219) WR Terrence Austin UCLA

Austin has been on the active roster both this season and last season but has hardly put up any stats. He’s had strong pre-seasons both years but that hasn’t translated too much regular season opportunity. The fact that the Redskins brass drafted three wideouts in this year’s draft is a little worrying for his future in DC.

Verdict: Incomplete


Round 7 (229) C/OG Erik Cook New Mexico

Cook spent his rookie season on the practice squad, and was forced into a starting role this year because of a spate of injuries. He has played awful; he is consistently being pushed back into the pocket. Worse, he apparently refused to play guard, which forced center Will Montgomery to slide over and play out of position when starting LG Kory Lichtensteiger was placed on injured reserve.  In the seventh round you can only really expect to get backups for your o-line. However, Cook is pretty useless in that role as well. His inflexibility makes him a wasted roster spot.

Verdict: Fail


Round 7 (231) OT Selvish Capers West Virginia

Capers was a practice squad member for all of 2010 and was then cut before the 2011 regular season. He wasn’t given an opportunity to play here but he must be pretty terrible if couldn’t crack the active roster of the Redskins offensive line in the past two years.

Verdict: Fail



Round 1 (16) OLB Ryan Kerrigan Purdue

This was a risky move, drafting a 4-3 defensive end and converting him to a 3-4 outside linebacker, but it has paid off in a big way. Kerrigan has flourished at LB and has proven to be the perfect complement to existing defensive star and opposite OLB Brian Orakpo.  Kerrigan has 6.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and 55 total tackles already this season. If it wasn’t for Denver’s Von Miller, Kerrigan would have a shot at Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Verdict: Pass


Round 2 (41) DT/DE Jarvis Jenkins Clemson

Jenkins was having a great pre-season before he tore his ACL and was lost for the year. He’ll likely compete for a starting job next year and has a good chance to win one.

Verdict: Incomplete


Round 3 (79) WR Leonard Hankerson Miami

The Redskins haven’t had much luck drafting wide receivers in recent years. Hankerson had a decent pre-season but had a slow start in the regular season. Against Miami in Week 10 he had a breakout game with eight catches for over 100 receiving yards. Unfortunately, he also suffered a season-ending injury in that game. Still, in that game he showed he has enough speed, talent, and explosiveness to become a dangerous deep-threat and the Redskins potential Number 1 receiver.

Verdict: Pass


Round 4 (105) RB Roy Helu Nebraska

After starting running back Tim Hightower was placed on IR (it’s like a theme of 2011) and Ryan Torian couldn’t get anything going Helu was given the starting job. In his first start he broke the Redskins record for receptions in a game. In Week 12, he really broke out as a runner with 23 carries for 108 yards and his first NFL touchdown. He followed that up with another 100 yards rushing on Sunday. At the beginning of the season he looked like a nice change-of-pace back that could use his speed on outside runs and catch out of the backfield. However, now it looks like he could be the Redskins future feature back. He’s averaging 4.7 yards-per-carry this year and has 42 receptions. He has broken tackles and ran tough the past two weeks, proving he’s a complete back.

Verdict: Pass


Round 5 (146) S DeJon Gomes Nebraska

Because starting FS Oshiomogho Atogwe has struggled to stay healthy this year, Gomes has played more than expected. He’s done well when given a chance. Against the Cowboys in Week 11 he had 14 total tackles. When he is in the lineup with Riley, the run defense is much improved. He’s not the pass defender that Atogwe is, but he’s a great backup who could one day be a reliable starter.

Verdict: Pass


Round 5 (155) WR Niles Paul Nebraska

Paul has done nothing as receiver this year. However, he had good pre-season in kick and punt returning and is apparently one of the best run blockers on the receiving core. Those two talents may be enough of a reason for him to stick around a few years.

Verdict: Incomplete


Round 6 (177) RB Evan Royster Penn State

Royster is now on the active roster, but it took injuries and releases to get him there from the practice squad. He had an okay pre-season, but ball security is a worry. He needs to show something in the last few games if he wants to come back next year.

Verdict: Incomplete


Round 6 (178) WR Aldrick Robinson Southern Methodist

With all the wideouts the Redskins kept on the active roster this season, Robinson was signed to the practice squad. That doesn’t bode well for his future.

Verdict: Incomplete


Round 7 (213) CB Brandyn Thompson Boise State

Thompson has been going back and forth between the active roster and the practice squad because of injuries. The fact that he can’t beat out the great Byron Westbrook outright is troublesome.

Verdict: Fail


Round 7 (217) OG Maurice Hurt Florida

Because of the aforementioned Lichtensteiger injury and the terrible play of Erik Cook, Hurt is actually the starting left guard now. The LG-C combo of Hurt-Will Montgomery is a much better combo than Montgomery-Cook, but Hurt is still the weakest link on the line. He’s constantly getting beat, including on one of blocked kicks this season. He doesn’t seem to have the talent to play at the NFL level.

Verdict: Fail


Round 7 (224) DE/LB Markus White

Because the linebacking core has performed well and stayed relatively healthy, White hasn’t really played this year. He did manage to make the 53-man roster though.

Verdict: Incomplete


Round 7 (253) DT Chris Neild

Neild started off the year with a bang, in the first game he had 1.5 sacks and 3 total tackles. That’s a good stat sheet for a backup nose tackle. He hasn’t had quite the same effect the rest of the year, but he continues to be effective spelling starting DT Barry Cofeild. That’s a decent pickup for a 7th rounder.

Verdict: Pass


For the most part, Shanahan and Allen have picked players ably.  Their 2010 draft was disappointing but the previous regime had already used up a third round pick and a sixth round pick. Our ultimate judgment on that draft rests on whether Trent Williams succeeds as the Redskins franchise left tackle.

Though, they did make some mistakes last year. In hindsight trading the 2nd Round pick of 2010 and a 4th round pick of 2011 for quarterback Donovan McNabb looks like a bad move. So does trading away a 2011 and a 2012 selection for the aging and of-injured offensive tackle, Jammal Brown. At the time, both of those trades looked like great win-now moves. Now they look like missed opportunities to rebuild through the draft.

But, what quarterback could the Redskins have drafted with that second round pick? Colt McCoy? Jimmy Clausen? Last year’s QB class was even weaker than this year’s. Waiting for 2012 to draft the next franchise QB might have been the plan all along.

2011 wasn’t an exciting draft, but the Redskins drafted their needs. Their top draft picks look like they are going to be starters at their positions for a long time. The later draft picks were more hit and miss, but they did come away with some talented backups.  Most important of all though, the brain trust found a way to add draft picks. The Redskins had so many needs, and so many picks had already been wasted in trades for older players that acquiring more picks was crucial. Shanahan and Allen did a great job of adding picks by trading down, without losing the guys they were targeting to draft.

I give Shanahan and Allen a failing grade for 2010 and a passing grade for the 2011 drafts. They made the mistake last year of trying to win right away. This year they more wisely starting looking to the future. Give them another year or two and they’ll have collected a talented young roster ready for playoff contention.

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