Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Initial thoughts: The Redskins’ draft
With a full day to reflect on the Redskins’ draft, here’s what I’m thinking:
**Washington’s draft was fairly successful. Selecting an offensive lineman fourth overall was critical to the team’s chances of doing anything positive on offense in 2010. I really, really like the Jason Campbell trade (more on that later). Using the second-round pick to help acquire Donovan McNabb was a no-brainer. The Day Three selections have some potential, and Washington smartly traded down twice to acquire two extra picks. Considering that the Redskins picked only once through the first three rounds, they substantially upgraded the roster.
**Drafting an offensive lineman fourth overall was a wise move. The Redskins were able to match up overall player rankings with their biggest need—a key for success in the draft—and take Trent Williams. He’s a top-8 talent despite some concerns about his work ethic and his quality at left tackle. Washington could have used safety Eric Berry or a highly-touted quarterback, but the degree of need at those positions didn’t quite match up as well as the need to upgrade the offensive line. As we saw last year, the offensive line makes everything go. We figured Mike Shanahan, with his Super Bowl rings, knew that—and he does!
**I’m not convinced that the Redskins should have taken Williams over Russell Okung. There are concerns about Williams’ work ethic, and even he admitted on Friday that he should have worked harder at Oklahoma. Putting those questions aside, though, Williams simply didn’t have a great senior season at left tackle. He struggled to refine his pass sets after moving from the right side, and that’s why he was considered to be behind Okung, Rutgers’ Anthony Davis and Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga entering the combine in February. There’s no question about his elite athleticism and raw talent, though. It should be fascinating to evaluate his progress on the left side over the next few years. And, of course, we’ll all be monitoring his work ethic and effort closely. He’ll be judged against Okung’s accomplishments for his entire career, and that should provide him some motivation. Okung is considered to be more ready than Williams to be an NFL left tackle.
**The Redskins did very well to get something—anything!—in return for Jason Campbell. (And FYI, I was told on Sunday that the only condition on Oakland’s 2012 fourth-rounder is that Campbell passes a physical. It has nothing to do with whether the Raiders make the playoffs or Campbell makes the Pro Bowl.) The Redskins undermined the market for Campbell by trading for Donovan McNabb. Once McNabb and Rex Grossman were on the roster, the entire NFL knew that Campbell wasn’t going to fit in. Many around the league expected Campbell to be released if he wasn’t traded. So the fact the Redskins were able to get something for him was a bonus. I think the Raiders got a steal, but good for them. Once 2012 rolls around, the Redskins are going to be glad they have an extra fourth rounder. And better 2012 than 2011. There’s some significant uncertainty about whether there will be a 2011 season because the collective bargaining agreement—which also sets the rules for the draft—expires next March. It’s a safer bet that there will be a 2012 draft.
**Not moving Albert Haynesworth in the draft sets the stage for some significant contention as the season approaches. The Redskins obviously weren’t satisfied by any of the offers they received for Haynesworth, and I don’t blame them for deciding to keep him rather than settle for less than they wanted. They’ve committed so much money to him ($32 million already), and he’s such a good player when he’s fully engaged in the game, that it’s clear why Mike Shanahan is hoping he can make this work. It’s a volatile situation, though. Consider how unhappy Haynesworth was last season when he was playing the 3-technique in a 4-3–the position he wanted to play. I just wonder how motivated he is at this point. It looks like we’re gonna find out.
**I’m not putting a ton of stock in the fact that the Redskins drafted three offensive linemen. They drafted only one before the seventh round, and you can’t count on seventh-rounders to ever make an impact. I’m not saying that New Mexico C Erik Cook or West Virginia RT Selvish Capers are bad picks. Heck, they should be able to compete for playing time, especially Capers. Just don’t expect them to come in and save the line. That said, it appears the Redskins got Capers at good value. He was projected to go in the fifth round in some mocks, and even earlier in others. He played right tackle in college, so the Redskins can practice him there from Day One and see how he progresses.
**UCLA WR/KR Terrence Austin has a prime opportunity to make a significant impact as a rookie. The Redskins needed a return man, and Austin’s sub 4.4-speed makes him an intriguing pick in the seventh round. To get a player that late who can contribute immediately seems like a smart pick.
**I’m quite impressed by sixth-round TE/FB Dennis Morris’s college highlights (see below). I was a bit baffled by that pick, considering the Redskins have both quality and depth at the position. But this was clearly a best-player-available pick, and that’s how it should be in the later rounds. I love the way Morris moves his feet to square up and finish his blocks. He demonstrates great balance while blocking and running with the ball. I’m trying to remind myself that these are his highlights, though. No doubt he’s had his share of bad plays; they’re just not on YouTube.
**I found it interesting that the Redskins drafted LSU LB Perry Riley with Maryland OT Bruce Campbell on the board. Campbell was a true workout warrior, and that actually might have hurt his stock. When scouts went back to look at Campbell’s tape after his sensational showing at the combine, they obviously didn’t like what they saw. I don’t blame the Redskins for going another direction. Riley was a quality tackler in college, and the Redskins certainly can use more of those. Plus, he has extensive special teams experience. With London Fletcher turning 35 next month and Rocky McIntosh entering the last year of his contract, building some inside linebacker depth is a good move.
**I wonder whether Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen wish they had their third round pick instead of DE Jeremy Jarmon. Granted, Jarmon is coming off reconstructive ACL surgery, so it’s probably not a fair question. But Ole Miss RG/RT John Jerry (a first-team all-SEC lineman) was on the board when the Redskins would have picked in the third round had they not used the pick on Jarmon in last year’s supplemental draft. It’ll be interesting to see how Jarmon comes back from his injury this summer and how quickly he picks up the outside linebacker spot. He flashed at times as a rookie, so there’s reason for optimism.
**The Redskins emerged from the weekend with some holes remaining on their roster. That’s what happens when you enter the draft with so many needs and only four picks. There’s still significant room for improvement on the offensive line, though the two seventh-rounders at least provide some intrigue. The Redskins still don’t have a big-play threat at running back, considering that Willie Parker hasn’t shown that ability recently. Free safety is a bit of a concern. Washington has some options, though, including 2008 sixth-rounder Kareem Moore, who proved last year he was still raw. Reed Doughty and Chris Horton are probably better suited to strong safety, but they could play free. Like Jim Haslett said, both safeties on the field will play both positions depending on the offensive formations, motions, etc.
**Those who said Bruce Allen likes to keep people guessing on draft day were dead right. There was suspense up until the commissioner read “Trent ‘Silverback’ Williams.” Covering Allen and Shanahan through the process this year will give us all a better feel for them next time around.
**The feel-good moment of the weekend? Trent Williams’ six-month-old daughter, Micah, said “Da-Da” for the first time on Thursday. What a day for him, huh?