OK...I'll admit to being rather confused on Saturday night after the Redskins drafted 3 pass catchers in their first round of participation in the NFL draft. I don't think any of us would have predicted that of those three 2nd rounders, not one was used on a big, fat, monster lineman on either side of the ball. But unlike many who I have spoken to, I am not nearly angry or disappointed in the haul we dragged in.
Let me take you for a little visit with the Ghost of Wide Receivers Past. It's week 10 the last 5-6 seasons. Justin Skaggs (may he rest in peace) is waiting by the phone for the call to suit up that week because we have nobody left to play the receiver position. Reche Caldwell's eyes widen (seemingly impossible) to almost cartoon-like dimensions. He has been brought in to learn routes to play for the Skins. Freddie Mitchell, Todd Pinkston, #88 (because I recall one game where a guy wearing #88 lined up in the slot a couple seasons back and everyone was asking who he was, well, he was #88), David Patten...excluding guys we drafted, this is a small list of players we have brought in to either bandage our receiving corps for a stretch of games, or give us an extra option for an entire season.
Do we need depth at the line positions? Yes. But if you look closely at out roster, there are only 2 spots on our lines that you could say a 1st rounder or the right 2nd rounder could come in and compete for a starting job -- Guard, to compete against Pete Kendall, and DE, to play opposite Andre Carter. The more pressing of the two is DE, and Philip Merling was available when we would have picked at #21. But our receiving corps has been nonexistent in the last few years, a unit that has held our offense hostage with the steady slew of injuries. Santana Moss is awesome, and a legit #1 for us, but he has to be on the field and healthy to help us win. Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, and Fred Davis are the receiving corps we never had/drafted. We did not draft Moss, we did not draft Randle-El. Everyone has been up in arms over the possible trade for a veteran wide receiver. "Build through the draft" has been everyone's battle cry. Well, they just built a receiving corps through the draft. These guys are talented enough to play in the league for a long time, though you can never know for sure with receivers.
I wanted a big tight end so bad in this draft and everybody called that retarded. Really? So in the red zone when we had Yoder on one side and Cooley on the other, defenses played each honestly, making it easier for us to hit the open man in the end zone? Right. With Fred Davis in the mix (check out some footage of him here) we have another BIG target that can either stay in and block or make his way into the secondary as a receiver. He was probably the main passing threat at USC last year, and last time I checked, that was a hell of a thing to be able to say about someone. Not to mention Jim "Kneel Before" Zorn needs the multiple tight ends for his sets, and Todd Yoder ain't the guy (though a capable backup). Of our 2nd round haul, Fred Davis is the biggest addition in my opinion. He will play and contribute on Day One. (I think I just messed myself)
Devin Thomas was "supposed" to be off the board at pick #11, for whatever that is worth to you. He is like a running back after he catches the ball. And that is what makes him so important to our offense. Moss and ARE are elusive, but they don't exactly break a lot of tackles. In "Kneel Before" Zorn's offense, yards after the catch are crucial and Thomas is a dangerous, physical ball carrier (here are some of his highlights). Does he remind anyone else at all of Chad Johnson? And for what it is worth also, he seems to be a bit miffed he was passed over by so many teams that told him he would be selected should he be available when they drafted. I like that.
Malcolm Kelly is somewhat of a mystery to me. I did not want him AT ALL in the 1st round. The Redskins really liked him, and even went to work him out a couple days before the draft. Am I ready to blindly trust that Cerrato picked a guy that he rated high enough to be our THIRD pass-catching draft pick in the 2nd round??!! No. But what about the longview? With Thomas, Davis, and Kelly, we have 3 guys that WE drafted and WE coached up -- all over 6'1" (add in Cooley to that longview as well). Santana Moss and ARE are not the long-term solutions at receiver for us. And we simply CAN NOT keep paying ridiculous amounts of money to free agent and veteran receivers. I would have thought a defensive lineman would have been the smartest pick instead of Malcolm Kelly. Especially after he blamed his slowness in the 40-yd dash on other people. Horrible. Also, he raps (click here if you need another reason to hate this pick)
I would have stood up and applauded the selection of Philip Merling instead of anyone we drafted in the 2nd round. But we didn't. The guys we got have solid chances of becoming longtime starters for our team, and ultimately that will be the way we judge this draft. I think between now and the start of the season, this team would go a long way towards pacifying the fans who think we have simply marooned our defensive line and Greg Blache by trading for a disgruntled big man and using some of that cap space we created for Chad Johnson. Don't worry if you can't find anyone who fits that category now, the good news in this day and age is that there will be someone available soon enough.
And let's not overlook Chad Rinehart. He can come in and backup the guard and center positions in year one. I think 2 linemen (one DL, one OL) would not have been too much to ask for in this draft in the first 3 rounds, given the amount of selections we had. Rinehart sounds like every bit what we wanted on the offensive side...a young guard/center that could step in this year if he had to. Probably won't supplant Thomas, Rabach, or Kendall, but we don't need him to.
Of the remaining picks, who knows who will even make this team. As mediocre as the Redskins roster may be, it will be hard for all of the last six picks to crack the regular season roster. Colt Brennan will almost assuredly make the team as the 3rd QB (since we have nobody else), and Rob Jackson has a good chance as well. Justin Tryon may very well be killed by the veterans if he is as cocky and arrogant as he sounds right now. The punter (Ray Guy award winner) Durant Brooks, will make this team and will be the starting punter in September. See ya Frost. (click here if you like watching punting highlights)
Grade for the draft: B+
We did not get better on the defensive line, but we got better on offense -- on the line and in the receiving corps. Bring on the chorus of disagreement.
P.S. Nice job Baltimore...Did someone forget to tell Billick he wasn't in charge anymore? Flacco at #18? He better be good (and he very well could be).