We all know that the chances of finding a starter in the draft are increasingly better in the early rounds. Thus, it is disappointing to see these opportunities slip through the fingers when the team mortgages these picks to fuel short-term/sighted needs. Despite the Redskins' notoriety for not fielding a full complement of draft picks, they have tabbed their share of 2nd round picks.
In the 32 drafts since Joe Gibbs' first term started in 1981, the team had chosen 26 players in the 2nd round, while trading away 12 such picks -- not a percentage that begets a dubious rep. Fans may grouse about the 2nd rounder needlessly thrown into the forgettable Champ-Bailey-for-Clinton-Portis swap. But, that trade did help yield a good player, as did some of the other 11 transactions with Brad Johnson, Joe Washington, Chris Cooley, Gerald Riggs, and most recently, Bob Griffin, of course.
Additional solid starters were found from the group of 26 drafted - Fred Smoot, Tre Johnson, Ladell Betts, Chip Lohmiller, Cory Raymer, and, to a lesser extent, Fred Davis and Jarvis Jenkins. But, the 2nd round pick that seems to stand out, literally and figuratively, is mountainous Right Tackle Jon Jansen.
Jansen was a two-time Captain and First-Team All-American at Michigan, winning a National Championship in 1997. Despite these accolades, he was an understated draftee amongst the sizzle of the 1999 Draft that was known more for a quarterback class (Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, Cade McNown) that was supposed to rival the Class of 1983; and when then-Saints head coach Mike Ditka foolishly traded all of his 1999 picks, along with two high 2000 picks, to Washington for the rights to select Ricky Williams.
If those events weren't enough to eclipse Jon Jansen's selection in the second round, then the Redskins finished off their memorable weekend by trading back up in the first round to pick Champ Bailey, a justifiably more ballyhooed player in his own right. As a result, all eyes were on him that summer, giddy with anticipation at his seamless ascension to form an unshakable pair with the ageless Darrell Green. I remember the home crowd clamoring for Bailey after a camp scrimmage with the Steelers, but my jaw dropped when the towering Jansen ambled by, looking every bit like a slab of granite. The coaches must have been just as equally amazed with him, since he was a surprisingly quick study with the team's offensive system.
Jansen lived up to his nickname, "The Rock," with 82 straight starts in the pros following 50-consecutive collegiate appearances. A fixture since his rookie camp, The Rock anchored the offensive line with 2000 first-rounder Chris Samuels to form the best tackle-tandem for a good chunk of the next decade. He helped Stephen Davis rush for 1,000+ yards over a franchise-best three consecutive seasons, culminating in his then single-season team-record 1,432 yards in 2001. Davis' record was later broken by Clinton Portis' 1,516 yards in 2005, and Santana Moss caught a team-record 1,483 yards that same season, which led to a playoff berth and Jansen's Second-Team All-Pro selection. That distinction followed a 2004 season entirely lost to a ruptured Achilles tendon in the preseason, which also broke his consecutive-start streak.
Unfortunately, a slew of injuries soon followed him thereafter to slowly diminish his play. A torn calf muscle in 2006, a broken ankle in 2007 and a sprained knee in 2008 eventually led to his 2009 release. But, his high-level performance over the years far exceeded any expectations one could have envisioned for a potential starter in 1999. And, as Redskins Nation presently agonizes over the team's current right tackle situation, my thoughts drift to the franchise's best 2nd round pick, hoping that the team can soon unearth a tackle tandem that could rival Jansen-Samuels.