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To The Draft!

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To the Draft!

Every year, when your favorite teams’ season finally comes to it’s conclusion, whether it’s in the Super Bowl, the tournament or after a crash and burn regular season fiasco, everyone’s thoughts go to one shining star in the dreary offseason dimness: The NFL Draft. A lot of fans get dressed up in their gear and head out to New York City to watch the soap opera unfold. Others go to friends’ houses to party (I like to think of it as more of an excuse to get your significant other to let you out of the house and throw a few beverages back), and still others have it on as background noise. But if you’re a fan of the NFL, and I’m talking a gear toting, every game watching, heart pounding in your chest with every moment of the game kind of fan then you’re definitely tuned in.

For the Washington Redskins this season, it was one of those crash and burn regular season fiascos. I know fans who were cheering for them to lose the last few games of the season. Not because they’re bad fans, or because they hate this team. Quite the opposite, actually. They cheered against the team to get the Holy Grail for losing teams… A top NFL draft pick. Sure, sometimes it’s a whole lot of false hope that doesn’t result in much of anything, but sometimes… Oh man… It’s like winning the lottery over and over again. And then winning it again. But, in true Redskin fashion, the Redskins defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, moving us back from a pick likely in the six range to the tenth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Disappointed? I know many, many great fans who are upset. The teams’ productivity and talent levels were extremely low, and finishing 6-10 seems to be quite the overachievement. More purgatory for this team, right?

I’d argue that we’re actually in excellent position for this upcoming April. How, you ask? Glad you asked.

The obvious feather in the helmet in this years draft would be the 6’4” 235 pound Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, should he decide to forego his senior season. And let’s start off by saying that it’s not a certainty that he would. The numbers speak for themselves: 3,338 yards,/70.7% completion rate/8.87 yards per attempt/32 touchdowns/8 interceptions (for those of you who aren’t math wizards, including me, that’s a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio). Is that enough to trade the farm? I’d have some reservations about what price you’d pay to move up to be in position to draft him, as a team with as many holes as the Redskins doesn’t necessarily have the luxury to be able to mortgage their entire future on one player, but if the risk is worth the reward, and in this case I believe it is, I’d have a hard time arguing against it. And yes, before you ask, I think Luck is a better prospect that last years “once in a decade talent” Sam Bradford. But trading the farm is certainly not the way I’d plan on doing things.

So let’s assume that we lose the Luck sweepstakes and have to take the second prize, which let’s be honest, is never quite as good as the grand prize but is usually some pretty nice swag. Let’s assume we don’t want to trade up for any of the other quarterbacks including but not limited to Cam Newton of Auburn (Junior), Ryan Mallet of Arkansas (Junior), Blaine Gabbert of Missouri (Junior, but according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network he has definitely declared for the draft), or Jake Locker of Washington (Senior). What do we do at ten? The likely hood is that at least three of those guys are gone, or perhaps four. So now what? We have two options, obviously. Draft at that pick or trade back and acquire more young talent. Does anyone view either scenario (or trading up for Luck) as a bad thing? I certainly don’t. At the tenth pick, many high grade prospects will be there for the taking, ranging from the quarterbacks listed above (Newton, Mallet, Gabbert, Locker) to other prominent collegiate players such as:

Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU [Junior]), Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska [Senior]), AJ Green (WR, Georgia [Junior]), Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State [Sophomore]), Julio Jones (WR, Alabama [Junior]), Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame [Junior]), Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson [Junior]), Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn [Junior]), Marcell Dareus (DT, Alabama [Junior]), Robert Quinn (DE/OLB, North Carolina [Junior]), JJ Watt (DE, Wisconsin [Junior]), Janoris Jenkins (CB, Florida [Junior]), Brandon Harris (CB, Miami [Junior]), Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama [Junior]), Cameron Heyward (DE, Ohio State [Senior]), Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue [Senior]), and many, many more.

Now, there’s a lot of juniors on that list and there is no such thing as certainty, but including the quarterbacks not named Luck, that’s twenty prospects that teams are drooling over. Then there are guys like Florida Guard Mike Pouncey that will be around as well. We could potentially slide down 11 picks and wind up with one of these guys (or others that I didn’t mention due to space, but to be quite honest I feel not guilty mentioning so I’m going to anyways… Allen Bailey (DE, Miami), Stephen Paea (DT, Oregon State), Derek Sherrod (OT, Mississippi State), Akeem Ayers (OLB, UCLA), Cameron Jordan (DE, California)).

I can hear it now though, people saying “But wait, what if we can’t grab a quarterback in the first round, now what?” Well, you hang your hat on the fact that the rest of the team will be improving. And you look forward to the possibility that we land another quarterback prospect later in the draft such as Andy Dalton (TCU), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Christian Ponder (Florida State) or perhaps a sleeper pick. Are these guys a guarantee? Of course not, but neither is one of the top quarterback candidates.

There is a wide variety of scenarios that could help the Washington Redskins in the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft, and whether we trade the farm and hope to get Lucky, pick at the tenth overall slot or trade back to acquire more youth, I think we’re in good shape as to where we’re slotted. Now, the only thing left to find out is to see if our beloved team managed to screw the pooch on this one, but it’s a new year and it’s my hope that we are like our stadiums’ namesake FedEx and we deliver in the 2011 NFL Draft.
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