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Tiller's Dollars and Cents:Trading Young Players for Picks; Is it a Risk Worth Taking for Redskins?

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In today's NFL, draft picks are a highly valued commodity.  Teams are often quick to cut ties with over-paid veterans to garner themselves an extra pick in April's NFL Draft.  Today, aging vets are not the only ones being moved for future picks.  Teams are putting young players, some who have not lived up to their potential, on the chopping block to try and gauge interest on their worth from other teams.  To put it in other terms, one man's junk is another man's treasure.  But are teams being too quick to release these once coveted treasures, for the unknown?

The NFL draft is like betting the horses at the Kentucky Derby.  There are some who follow the horses like a religion, observing them from the time they run their first stakes race, until they set foot into the gates at Churchill Downs.  Others simply watch the horses come out onto the track for the first time at Churchill, look at their stride, demeanor, build and beauty, and declare their aesthetically pleasing favorite to be the one with whom their money will be placed.  Some are so naïve in the process that they pick a horse my name or number.  Point is, it's all a crap-shoot. There are too many unknown factors that can come into play when trying to pick the next Secretariet from a field of up to twenty relative unknowns.  Remember that these horses are only 3 years old at the time of the "Big Race".  Some come from overseas, and out of the clear eye of the American public.  Others are well known because of their lineage, and exceptional blood-lines.  Some have been groomed from day one to be Champions.  Others were purchased for a pittance at a stakes race, and have since exceeded expectations.  And then there are a few who just don't belong, but their owners have enough money, clout and arrogance to put them into the field anyways.  Post position, jockeys, the line they choose to take, stumbling, getting boxed out, and accidents all come into play when determining a winner.   So why do people throw their money away on such

The NFL Draft is much the same.

Every team has multiple scouts who are sent around the country to watch potential draft picks perform in practices and games.  Every year the NFL hosts the scouting combine, where the top prospects from around the country are invited to showcase their talents in front of high-ranking NFL personnel.  Colleges now host Pro Days, where prospects perform drills in the comfort of their own surroundings under the watchful eye of NFL representatives and coaches.  Teams also host personal workouts for prospects they are interested in.  So you think that NFL teams would have this down to a science right?  Think again. 

The NFL draft is no more a science than picking a racehorse to win the Kentucky Derby. Prospects who are graded high sometimes don't pan out.  Ryan Leaf, Desmond Howard, Tim Couch, Tony Mandarich, Heath Schuler, Brian Bosworth, Akili Smith, Lawrence Phillips, and Todd Marinovich to name a few are all high-profile picks who are now considered to be the biggest busts in the history of the NFL.  On the opposite end of the spectrum are guys like Tom Brady, Terrell Davis, Jared AllenBrandon MarshallMatt BirkMarques ColstonAsante Samuel, and TJ Houshmandzaheh, who all flew under the radar, but became stars in the NFL.  Much like selecting a race horse, selecting a player to draft can be pretty precarious.  Factors such as maturity, aptitude, system, team, injury and previous level of competition can all affect how a player will perform in the NFL.  Point is, there are too many variables, and not enough facts to make a good decision with any consistency; in other words, it's a crap shoot.

So why don't people wait until the Belmont or Preakness to select a horse to wager on?  This way they can see how the horses perform against others of the same caliber.  They have a book of work to base their decision upon, and the risk is a little more calculated.  Is it that people just want to be labeled the genius who found that diamond in the rough; the ones that pays out big when others thought that it would flounder, or is it those who did all the homework for months and months leading up to the big day just want to see all their scouting pay off for once, and say to their friends; see, I told you I knew what I was talking about.

Just like horse racing, why are so many teams willing to part ways with proven players to simply venture into the unknown.  Isn't a bird in the hand still worth two in the bush?  What motivated the Denver Broncos to part ways with one of the leagues' most talented young receivers in Brandon Marshall?  Why would the Eagles trade McNabb(whom I still view as young in terms of QB's), the quarterback who led them to five NFC championship games and a Super Bowl appearance, to a division rival none the less, for a 2nd round pick?  What were the Steelersthinking by giving up Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a 5th round pick?  Why are the Ravenssupposedly considering trading the young left tackle Jared Gaither for a 2nd rounder? 

In today's NFL, franchise altering decisions are made every day.  Coaches become icons, GM's become empowered, owners become arrogant, teams become dominate due to some of these moves, but they don't come without  heavy risk/reward.  The wrong move can set your franchise back years, while the right move can make you look like a genius.  Is it simply arrogance that team have that causes them to dive into the unknown?

Redskins fans have been calling for trades of guys like Chris CooleyCarlos Rogers and LaRon Landry.  I've even heard Chris Horton, Rocky McIntosh and Devin Thomas thrown out a few times.  These are productive players who are in their prime.  These are players who can make a significant contribution to our team.  These are also players who we have drafted and molded as Redskins.  Now why would we want to let these types of players go for some unknown player to be named?  This just doesn't make cents.

If you want my take, we need to develop the young talent we have on this team.  Trading away these young players could come back to haunt us.