Shanahan and Belichick Have a Similarity: Drafting Team Captains

It's obvious to everyone that the Dan Snyder era can be summarized as big-named players who care more about the paycheck than they do the team. Contrast that against Chiefs' GM, Scott Pioli's mantra:

Pioli: "You'd like your best players and most important players to be your hardest working players. It's not only work ethic but it's work habits."

It seems so simple, yet so many NFL coaches still seem to avoid it. Two coaches that do not are Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan.  

In last year's draft (2010), five of the 12 picks the Patriots made were players were captains in college: Zoltan Mesko, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Taylor Price, and Devin McCourty.

This season, six of the nine players the Patriots selected in the draft were collegiate captains: first-rounder Nate Solder, second-round picks Ras-I Dowling and Shane Vereen, third-rounders Stevan Ridley and Ryan Mallett (the latter of whom was a two-year captain at Arkansas), as well as fifth-round pick Lee Smith (another two-year captain). [weei.com]

How about the Redskins? Of their twelve 2011 draft picks, six were team captains, including their top 4 picks: Ryan Kerrigan, Javaris Jenkins, Leonard Hankerson, Roy Helu Jr., Markus White, and Chris Neild. In the 2010 draft, the Redskins only had 2 picks in the first 5 rounds - Perry Riley was a team captain at LSU (as was his fellow alum, Laron Landry). 

Long gone in A$hburn, Virginia are the days of the under-achieving. Under most coaches, Haynesworth would automatically be a starter regardless of his half-ass practices and summer workouts, but not with Coach Shanahan.

I truly buy into the theory that a team's most important player (Quarterback) should be the hardest working player. That's why it's clear as day some of the previous QB busts have ended so poorly, which makes QBs without the team captain title a huge red flag on a draft day. 

Two QBs who were not team captains: Jamarcus Russell and Vince Young and that lack of leadership showed at the next level. There's always exceptions to the rule since Matt Leinart was a Captain. His nickname of "Captain Checkdown" for all his short throws to Reggie Bush certainly helped in his draft day slide.

Matt Ryan was also not a team captain at Boston College, but he was the team captain for his High School Football, Baseball, and Basketball teams. BC had no shortage of hard-working players. 

As we all know, drafting players is a bit of a crapshoot, but selecting guys with hard work habits guarantees at the least they'll be pushing everyone even harder at camp. For once, I am truly optimistic with the direction this team is going. London Fletcher can only lead this team so much. There needs to be guys that want to follow, and with his time winding down, we need players that will fill that gaping leadership role when he leaves.

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