First of all -- congratulations to Ryan Kerrigan. We're glad to have him in Washington and here's why:
Kerrigan is a hard worker and a great finisher. He is solid in every sense of the word. He was an Academic All-American and is of very high character, according to everyone who has reviewed him. Todd McShay went as far as saying there's "no chance [Kerrigan] will be a bust in the NFL" when analyzing the Redskins pick. You have to love that.
He is a great pass rusher and much faster than I thought he'd be when I saw his tape for the first time today. He is quick and a turnover machine -- he tied the record in FBS for forced fumbles.
The position of OLB was a tremendous need for the Redskins. It is a key position in the 3-4 and we finally have someone who offenses will have to worry about besides Brian Orakpo in the pass rush.
The first round went like this: we picked up a starter at a key position that will be reliable for a long time, while adding a quality pick in the second round. In other words, by passing on Blaine Gabbert, we may have picked up three starters. You have to love that.
I'm pretty sure everyone reacted exactly like I did when Kerrigan got picked. First of all, we all wondered who that guy on the phone was. (I think I joked, "That better be Mark Ingram's agent.") Then, we all said, "Okay... So we picked a 4-3 defensive end over Prince Amukamara (or Ingram, or Castanzo, etc)?!?
I think we all have reason to be a little concerned that Kerrigan has never played linebacker, but it is a position where the transition can be pretty smooth. 3-4 OLB is not that different from 4-3 end, and given the amount of nickel the Skins played last season, it looks like we could count on Kerrigan being pretty comfortable at the line in pass-rushing situations.
At first, I did not like the pick, but the kid has character and great technique, so I've changed my mind. Good pick, better work to get a second 2nd-rounder.
But now, the real test comes. Will the Redskins pick a quarterback and blow this entire draft? Or will they pick up two impact starters?
My explanation below:
I said it last week and I'll say it again:
Second round quarterbacks have a terrible track record. There is only one in the NFL that has had any success (Drew Brees, the first pick in the 2001 2nd round).
Let's run through last year's playoff teams and their quarterbacks. The following quarterbacks started in last year's playoffs: Sanchez, Manning, Cassel, Flacco, Brady, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, Vick, Brees, Hasselbeck, Cutler, Ryan.
Of those 12 quarterbacks, a staggering seven were first rounders. Brees was the lone second rounder. Brady, Bulger and Hasselbeck were all 6th rounders (interesting), and Cassel was a 7th rounder.
In the rest of the NFL, only one other second rounder to my knowledge started at all: Tarvaris Jackson.
Jackson is the prototype second round quarterback -- a guy that is just on the outside of the first round for some really troubling reason. Jackson's reason was he went to a tiny school where he ran a high school offense. Brees' reason was he was a bit undersized. There's always some sticking point.
That is true of every single quarterback remaining in this draft. Ryan Mallett has alleged character issues and had a slower 40 time than most offensive linemen. Colin Kaepernick played weak competition, ran a simplistic offense and is still a long ways from a finished product after playing in the WAC. Andy Dalton is undersized (though not terribly at 6'2) and has a lack of arm strength that kept him out of the first round.
These are all major problems. If they didn't exist, they would all have been first rounders. But they gave every single team pause and they have subsequently slid into round 2.
Here's the problem: these quarterbacks project, at best, as being *good* down the road, if their team is lucky. We don't want a *good* quarterback -- we want a GREAT quarterback. I don't care if we have a one-year rental with Rex Grossman; this is not the season we are building for. We are building for the future, and we cannot afford to spend a second round pick on a developmental quarterback with inherent flaws. We need to use a high pick on a receiver, nose tackle, offensive lineman, running back, etc -- where we can find a starter right away for many years, so we can accelerate forward when the right quarterback takes the wheel. Torrey Smith, Ryan Williams, Stephen Paea, Brandon Harris, Leonard Hankerson, Titus Young, and many others are guys who can become starters at their respective positions, all of need, right away.
We still have a weak offensive line and our current WR depth chart has Anthony Armstrong and Malcolm Kelly as the starters. Not to mention our running backs corps, which is probably the thinnest in the NFL given Torain's history with injuries. Do you really think we could afford to take a bench-riding quarterback given the fact that we have probably the league's least-threatening group at the skill positions? And given that McNabb, for now, is still under contract and Rex Grossman has little-to-no chance of signing with anyone besides the Redskins (you think he could have a shot at starting anywhere else)?
I don't care if we draft the next Peyton Manning -- a quarterback will not have the chance to become great with that offense. We need to load up on options and let Grossman or McNabb buy time for them to develop while we wait for the face of the franchise to come our way in next year's draft or free agency. It is the smart move -- not taking a gamble on a quarterback that has such obvious limitations from day 1.
And if the NFL playoffs are any indication, if we want a developmental quarterback, we might want to look for Hasselbeck, Brady or Cassel in the later rounds. I'd rather take a lower risk there and miss than end up with the next Tarvaris Jackson, John Beck or Chad Henne.