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’ first round
Here’s what I’m thinking now that the first round has concluded:
>>The Redskins had a successful night. They upgraded a major need in the defensive front seven AND picked up the 49th-overall pick. Not only that, Purdue DE/LB Ryan Kerrigan presents good value at No. 16. The Redskins didn’t reach. That’s win-win-win.
>>Some fans have expressed on Twitter their belief that the Redskins erred in not drafting Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert when he slid to 10th. Personally, I’m not sold on Gabbert (or any of the other QBs in this draft, for that matter). Here’s the stat I can’t get over: Gabbert threw only 16 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions last season in their spread offense. Add the questionable success rate for juniors who come out early, and he’s far from a sure thing.
The Redskins always will be a footnote in Gabbert’s career, and if he ends up in the Hall of Fame, people would look back and crush Mike Shanahan for passing on him. But Shanahan obviously wasn’t convinced by Gabbert, so end of story. They also didn’t reach for a quarterback that Shanahan wasn’t sold on. Now, I understand fans’ shaken faith in Shanahan’s quarterback-selecting abilities after the Donovan McNabb debacle, but that’s another argument.
Shanahan immediately upgraded the on-field product by drafting Kerrigan, who should start in 2011. Gabbert wouldn’t play right away, and he’s not a lock to succeed. I don’t have a problem with them passing on Gabbert.
>>The intrigue will intensify as soon as the second round starts on Friday night. The Redskins have ammunition to trade up—picks Nos. 41 and 49—to get a quarterback if they’re targeting one. Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton and Colin Kapernick still are available. Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona and San Francisco also passed on quarterbacks in the first round, so that position is likely to be in high demand early in the round.
>>One player worth keeping an eye on in the second round: Oregon State nose tackle Stephen Paea. He’s another player that would fill a major need and present value at Nos. 41 or 49.
>>Kerrigan’s intelligence should significantly help his transition to outside linebacker. Athleticism is the biggest key, but smarts help. Shanahan was impressed by how quickly Kerrigan grasped linebacker concepts during classroom sessions in the pre-draft process.
“Any time you talk to a defensve end about the linebacker position, you go through your defensive schemes, adjustments and secondary coverages and a defensive end picks it up very quickly without playing the position, you know he’s got some football intelligence.”