With Alfred Morris steamrolling his way out of the 6th round and into the Redskins record books, our editors tossed out an interesting question for us, "who is our favorite Redskin drafted after the 5th round?". I must admit this topic necessitated some quick research on my part, and I was surprised by some of names I turned up. I found Monte Coleman in the 11th round of the 1979 draft, Brian Mitchell (2nd in total yards only to Jerry Rice in NFL history) was a great grab in the 5th round of the 1990 draft, Mark Schlereth was picked in the 10th in 1989, Mark Rypien (MVP of Superbowl XXVI) was a 6th round pick in 1986, Barry Wilburn (a hard hitting DB for those who remember) was a steal in the 8th round of the 1985 draft (they also got Raleigh McKenzie in the 11th). Looking back at it, I was really impressed with the Redskins 1981 draft. Joe Gibbs first season as a coach, not only did he grab Mark May and Russ Grimm in the 1st and 3rd but then he snatched Dexter Manley (the Redskins all-time sack leader with 97) in the 5th, Charlie Brown (220 receptions, 3,548 receiving yards, 25 touchdowns) in the 8th, Darryl Grant in the 9th and Clint Didier (remember him?) in the 12th...the 12th!
With a list like this it was hard to choose just one so I had to give myself some criteria to narrow it down, I based it on production (something I can measure) and my own emotional attachment to them as a player (something that's hard to measure). So where did that leave me? With 3 guys: Brian Mitchell, Dexter Manley, and Mark Rypien. I eliminated Mark Rypien because even though he was the MVP of Superbowl XXVI he was really only a starter for about 4 or 5 years. So Dexter Manley and Brian Mitchell...for those who don't know or remember, Manley was a beast. He terrorized NFL quarterbacks for 11 years, recording a career high of 18 ½ sacks in 1986 as well as being on 2 Superbowl winning teams. Brian Mitchell finished his career with 23,313 total yards (as I said 2nd to Jerry Rice, for some perspective Walter Payton is 3rd and Emmitt Smith is 4th), 14,014 kick return yards (1st all time), 4,999 punt return yards (1st all time), 13 return touchdowns (2nd all time) and 1 Superbowl win in 1991. Wow.
I was really tempted to choose Dexter Manley, because honestly few plays in football carry the emotional weight a sack does. Off the field he had his issues but on the field...he was one of the elite pass rushers of his day, as good as any of these N.Y.Giants in their "Nascar" package. Pass rushers have always come at a premium and for a 4 year period from 1983 to 1986 he was as good as anybody, sacking the quarterback 58 times. BUT I just couldn't ignore Brian's numbers, 23,313 yards in 14 years (Jerry Rice has 23,546 in 20 years), talk about a small school guy who proved he belonged. Not only was he a Redskin for 11 years of his 14 year career but he came back after retirement and is now a permanent sports personality in the area a la Sonny Jurgensen, Doc Walker and Sam Huff. Brian's careers numbers are something that he's never gotten proper respect for and from an NFL standpoint I don't know if he ever will, but I wanted to recognize him as a Redskins fan and let him know that in my opinion he is the best late-round draft pick the Redskins have ever had.