I was really getting worried. Prior to our overtime victory in Jacksonville, we were cruising for a very, VERY high draft pick. As the losses mounted, we were staring down the barrel of a Top 5 draft decision to make, with Rex Grossman as the incumbent quarterback and Mike Shanahan thirsting for a blue-chipper to groom and call his own.
Since we simply have no clue how the whole CBA circus is going to play out, I will operate under the premise that the Top 5 picks are going to continue to get paid like rock stars. With guaranteed money skyrocketing into the tens of millions of dollars, there simply are not many teams out there even remotely interested in landing a Top 5 pick. Sure, Sam Bradford's season is helpful for the Carolina Panthers. The Rams appear to have spent their money very wisely. The Carolina Panthers should be able to market their #1 choice as the Andrew Luck pick and hope a team steps up that is more than willing to absorb the cost of making Andrew Luck the next very rich man who has never played a down in the NFL. With the memory of a rookie Sam Bradford having his team on the precipice of the playoffs fresh in everyone's minds, the Panthers are sure to entertain a few offers. This is, of course, if Luck enters the draft, which is still very much up in the air.
Everyone else is pretty much screwed. Luckily for the Redskins last year, at #4 we had our choice of two top-tier Left Tackle prospects (Trent Williams and Russell Okung). It was a no-brainer investment. Truth be told, it would be a no-brainer investment again. But given our lack of a 3rd and 4th round pick in the upcoming draft as well as our lack of young talent across the board, the best move for the Washington Redskins would be to drop down in the draft and pick up some much needed picks.
Every year, moving down is easier said than done. More often than not, the teams most interested in moving down--the awful ones--are drafting so high in the 1st round that they can't find a dancing partner. And the godforsaken "Trade Value Chart" is so strictly adhered to that you have to find a team that is simply desperate to trade up.
Which brings me (finally) to why winning is so important for our Redskins team right now. With each win, we add a little distance between us and the dreaded Top 5. Thanks to our nine losses, we are still going to pick in the upper half of the 1st round...probably. But from the middle of the 1st round, we are positioned to move. The teams that sit behind us in the 1st round (better, more sound franchises in most cases) are more willing to move up 5-10 slots than 15-20 slots to get "the guy" they need. It still costs them precious draft picks to do this, often a very good pick (or picks) in this draft and a valuable pick in a future draft. The other team gets a good player they have targeted without paying through the nose, and the Redskins begin to do what good organizations do--stockpile draft picks.
Based on the Trade Value Chart (linked above), the 15th pick in the 1st round is worth a bottom third 1st rounder, the corresponding 2nd rounder and the corresponding 3rd rounder. So conceivably, if we sat at #15 and traded down to #28, we should also net that team's 2nd and 3rd rounders as well. Granted, this is an inexact science, but you get the idea. With a middling record that nets us a middling 1st round pick, we could end up with a 1st round pick, an extra 2nd round pick, and get back into the 3rd round (after trading this year's 3rd rounder for Jammal Brown).
We could rebuild the entire Offensive Line next to Trent Williams with this kind of haul. (Oh man...if that happened I would seriously have to change my shorts about 5 times during the draft.)
Oh yes...there is a Post Script you might be interested in...
There is a BIG difference between drafting 3 or 4 straight offensive linemen in a draft and drafting 3 straight wide receivers/tight ends. First of all, there are FIVE starting positions along the offensive line, and we only have ONE that is locked in going forward. Secondly, if they are all starting-caliber when training camp breaks, they could ALL start (once again due to the fact that you start five at varying positions). When we drafted Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis, we had Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Clinton Portis and Mike Sellers. After you count the quarterback and five offensive lineman, that leaves room for only one other starter in Week 1 penciled in for you. And God help us all, Randle-El was that guy. If we drafted three offensive linemen (for example) in the 2nd round, they would probably be our opening day starters--ALL OF THEM.
You see where I'm going with this? When you have a crisis-level scarcity of talent, it is a FELONY to draft luxury backups in the 1st and 2nd round. And for all of you out there who would argue that we are still loading up too much in one area, let me remind you that this ain't getting fixed in 2011 either. Let 2012 be the draft where we bring in a smattering of stud rookies. Let that class be the one that gets to come in and join what could be a very special offensive line for years to come.