A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
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A Burgundy and Gold Obsession

Finding Homer

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Amidst the frenzy of post-NFL Draft dissection, the inevitable occurs. The more jaded (they would call themselves ‘realistic’) wring their hands over lost opportunities and busts selected even before a single practice has occurred. On the other side of the spectrum, the ‘homers’ (they would call themselves ‘good fans’) applaud the genius of their NFL front office, whose picks in this year’s draft will surely vault their beloved franchise into relevancy and take them to the Promised Land.

Of course, the truth is, most fans fall somewhere in between those two extreme positions. But at no time of the year is the gulf between those who ultimately ‘believe’ and those who don’t wider and more obvious.

And so it goes with fans of the Washington Redskins.

This post-draft phenomenon begs the obvious question… who’s right? The homeristic optimists, or the nihilistic naysayers? The more level-headed and practical among us (has anyone seen servumtuum?) would chide both camps, with the logical and sage wisdom that we won’t know for years whether or not the Redskins front office selected prize-winning roses, or just bought a bunch of Chia pets in this year’s draft. True likely.

But where’s the fun in that?

So obsessive is the need to proclaim triumph or epic defeat, Redskins fans have even begun revisiting previous drafts when dissecting this weekend’s glory or shame hasn’t satisfied their urges.

So now it’s my turn. Just how did we do this go round? With a newly assertive Bruce Allen, emancipated Jim Haslett, and fledgling head coach Jay Gruden chipping in, did the brain trust finally start to get it right, or was it more of the same? Champs or chumps?

I’m like most Redskins fans, constantly vacillating between scorn, skepticism, hope, and trepidation, wanting badly to believe but afraid to all at the same time. The RG3 era has encapsulated, almost perfectly, the nature of Redskins fandom - glory to gut-wrenching defeat in two short seasons. The stench rising above Ashburn Virginia was so foul by the end of last season, Daniel Snyder needed a fire hose to rinse all that Shanahan out of the building. So here we go again Redskins fans. You know…starting over.

Part of starting over is watching the new regime in its first ever NFL draft. How’d they do? Here’s my take:

Trent Murphy LB Stanford
No one I know saw the Murphy pick coming, expecting the Redskins to go OL with the 34th pick. But the Skins saw the chance to trade down and still get their OT, and the gamble paid off. Murphy gives the Redskins a bonafide threat in the pass rush who, along with Orakpo, Kerrigan, and recently acquired Hatcher, can pressure opposing QBs and/or spell our starters as needed. This year Kerrakpo won’t have to carry the burden of double teams and pressure all on their own – we will have the threat of a pass rush coming from several positions. Expect career seasons for Orakpo and Kerrigan as a result. I love the Murphy pick because of the kind of player he is as well. A big 6’5” beast of a guy with great hands who’s rumored to work as hard as anyone you’ll find in a locker room, Murphy is described as tenacious, intense, ‘country strong’, and ‘Superman if allowed to play in a phone booth…’ In short, Murphy will be another talented presence opposing offenses will have to account for, and has the kinds of intangibles a young team trying to build an identity needs.

Morgan Moses OT UVa
Moses, projected to be a first round pick, has been on the Skins radar since early on as a potential answer to OL needs. The fact that the Skins got their guy, while picking up Murphy as an added bonus, was an unexpected plus. Moses? He’s big. Damn big. 6’6” 315 lbs BIG. Moses has played for the Redskins before, on his youth club in Richmond, Virginia. Pass rushers are going to have a challenge getting past Moses’ nearly 36 “ long wingspan. Moses has played at both the right and left spots, an added plus. Moses is still raw with plenty of upside. But he’s smart and has all the physical attributes to be a stalwart on the Redskins beleaguered line for years to come. Given he’ll in all likelihood be replacing the hapless Tyler Polumbus, Skins fans should be ecstatic about this pick. Getting Moses where we did is evidence of a savvy and opportunistic draft team.

Spencer Long OG Nebraska
Another big corn fed ugly – 6’5” 320 lbs worth of him. Long was coming off a senior season MCL/PCL injury, or likely would’ve been snatched up sooner. Long is big and versatile, having played both right and left guard positions, as well as at center. Described as gritty, tough, tenacious, nasty, intense, and self-motivated (Long was a walk-on at Nebraska who willed and clawed his way to a starting position, playing an entire season in 2012 with a meniscus tear), Long could challenge for a starting role over the next several years. Another common attribute among this year’s Redskins draft choices – leadership. Long served as a Cornhuskers Team Captain his senior season.

Bashaud Breeland CB Clemson
Breeland will be the Redskins biggest project out of the bunch. 5’11” on his tippy-toes, Breeland is physically gifted but often plays a bit ‘out of control’ according to many scouts. Breeland doesn’t have ‘elite speed’, but is a strong run defender, is technically sound, and has good raw cover skills. The Redskins didn’t expect Breeland to be available (he was projected as a late 2nd, early 3rd rounder), so he represents a real bargain in the 4th round. Breeland has a lot of upside, and with solid coaching could project as a starter down the road. In the meantime, expect to see Breeland thrust into a Special Teams role as a possible impact player.

Ryan Grant WR Tulane
The knock on Grant according to some scouts is that he’s not a big guy (6’0” 197 lbs), lacks elite speed, and isn’t a strong blocker. That being said, Grant did catch 77 passes for over 1000 yards last year at Tulane, had an impressive showing at the 2014 Senior Bowl, and has great hands. Grant will compete with some other current Redskins WRs ‘on the bubble’ for a team spot. Grant looks to be a BPA pick since WR was not a pressing need for the Redskins at the moment. Grabbing Grant in the 5th round, in one of the strongest WR classes in recent memory, was too tempting for the Redskins to pass. I like Grant’s potential as a project, but I might have gone another route in round 5.

Lache Seastrunk RB Baylor
I love, love, love this pick. If you’re going to go BPA, this is the way you do it. Some would look at RG3’s familiarity with Seastrunk as ‘bias’, but I see him as solid intel on what this kid can do. What is it with today’s NFL anyway, with RBs incredibly devalued and barely mentioned in the first couple of rounds. Although the Redskins are in great shape in the backfield, Roy Helu has been inconsistent and Seastrunk could challenge as backup/supplemental back to spell stalwart Alfred Morris. With a low profile (just 5’9” tall) and elusive quickness, Seastrunk broke several Baylor rushing records and was Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year in 2012. Seastrunk dropped on NFL draft boards due to slower than expected 40 times at the combine – but by all accounts has great on the field quickness. The Redskins didn’t expect him to be available here and snatched him up when he was.

Ted Bolser TE Indiana
Big slow white guy who plays TE? Perhaps we’re grooming him to replace our existing big, slow white guy who plays TE …who knows? To be fair, Bolser can play, and set an Indiana TE’s record with 117 season catches. But ultimately, a fair assessment of Bolser is that he is a big, lumbering TE who is an average blocker. His only noteworthy skill is on kick coverage where he has excelled. Let’s face it – in the 7th round, you’re either drafting camp fodder in most cases, or you just get lucky. I don’t see enough here with this pick to expect Bolser to be around much past training camp, but you never know. I was hoping for Michael Sam here – if only for the entertainment value.

Zach Hocker K Arkansas
Say it ain’t so! Is ‘Cobra Kai’ Forbath in trouble? Could be. Although Forbath has been the most consistent kicker the Redskins have had since John Hall, he has continued to struggle to put the ball into the end zone – almost a career killer since the NFL pushed up kickoffs. Hocker may arguably have a better leg, although this is debatable. Has been pretty consistent in kicks over 50, but is not considered to be a powerful kicker. I’m betting this pick is of the ‘light a fire under the ass’ variety as I still expect Forbath to be the guy in 2014. Cobra Kai! Sweep the leg! Another curious 7th round pick given Hocker would no doubt have been available as an undrafted free agent.

Of the eight new Redskins draft picks, I absolutely love 3 of them. Murphy, Moses, and Long. I think 2 others, Breeland and Grant, are ‘wait and see’ projects who will fight to make the team. And as previously mentioned, I found the two 7th round picks relative head scratchers. My ‘pick to watch’? Lache Seastrunk – he may well be this year’s Alfred Morris pick and I can’t wait to see what he can do. Overall, I think the Redskins have 3 potential starters in this group – not bad given that one of those 3 was ‘found money’ and that the Redskins lacked a first round pick.

Combined with some solid talent pickup in free agency (and the far more than solid acquisition of DeSean Jackson), I think Gruden and Company’s first draft was highly successful. We were never going to fill every hole on this team’s roster in single off-season. Safety and Cornerback are still concerns, but we’ll plug those holes with stopgaps like Ryan Clark, while determining whether any of our young corners is going to be a long-term solution. There’s more building to come and, having finally paid the toll keeper, we’ll have all our draft picks in upcoming drafts to aid in the process.

I don’t know if it’s the Spring, the season of renewal, life bursting into an explosion of colors, or just the uptick in my recent homebrew consumption, but this draft season I feel something I haven’t felt since RG3 went down against Seattle.

Confident.

It’s not a rational thing. No fan of a team coming off a 3-13 implosion should feel confident. And yet that’s exactly what I feel. Confident you say? Confident of what?!

- Confident we have the right stuff at head coach
- Confident we have a starting QB for a decade to come
- Confident Alfred Morris will continue to be a rushing dynamo
- Confident our wide receiving corps will strike fear into the hearts of our opponents DCs
- Confident our defense will put more pressure on opposing QBs than we’ve seen in a long time
- Confident we will win more than we lose in 2014
- And confident we just had a great draft adding a number of players who will have an immediate impact

I know. That’s a lot of confidence for a fan of a cellar-dwelling 3-13 club. It’s been awhile since I saw and embraced my inner Homer. But there he is. Sure, sometimes he drinks too much, talks too loud, and embarrasses himself. Still, I have to admit, I’ve missed the guy.

Welcome back Homer!
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