Scariest Thing I’ve Ever Read As A Skins Fan
There is no other way to describe how I felt after reading today’s Washington Post, where it is suggested that the Redskins could be so enthralled with Sam Bradford at quarterback that they’d be willing to trade up in next month’s NFL Draft. Currently the Redskins hold the 4th pick in the draft, and would need to trade up to number 1 to ensure the get Bradford. The Post make the obvious comparison to the Eli Manning-Phillip Rivers scenario 7 years ago. Where the Chargers traded Manning to the Giants for Phillip Rivers (the 4th pick) a 2004 3rd rounder, and the Giants 1st and 5th round picks in 2005. Let me make this decision easy for the Redskins — Sam Bradford is not worth the price of admission.
Drafting 1st round quarterbacks is a risky proposition that doesn’t always work out, making the drafting of Bradford or Claussen a mistake to begin with, for the rebuilding Redskins. And trading up for one of them is pretty much the surest way to kill this team’s long term future. The Giants paid a king’s ransom to trade one Pro Bowl caliber quarterback for another. Now Manning did win a Super Bowl for the Giants so its hard to fault them too much, but Rivers is every bit as good if not better than Manning, and they gave up some other very valuable assets.
The most frustrating part about this idea to trade up is the perception that Bradford will cure all the Redskins woes and instantly make them a contender. I like Bradford, I really do, but I don’t think he is able to step into the starting line up from day one. He’s not that type of quarterback. Not only is he coming off an arm injury, so I’d be a bit weary to put him behind a horrendous offensive line, but he’s coming from an offense where he spent the vast majority of his time in the shotgun. He’s going to have to learn to read defenses and pass rushers all while performing 3, 5, and 7 step drops that he is not used to. That is not a recipe for success. Last year the two quarterbacks taken in the top five didn’t have either concern, and both had stronger arms, yet had awful seasons.
Bradford is more like a Phillip Rivers or Aaron Rodgers, quarterbacks who got a couple years of apprenticeship before becoming starters. That is the most surefire way to get a rookie quarterback to succeed (no it doesn’t work all the time, but it has more success then starting a quarterback in year one). So if Bradford shouldn’t be playing in his first (or even second) year, is it really a good idea to trade future assets for him? NO, of course not. In fact, given the Redskins needs, its not a good idea to draft a quarterback in the first two rounds of next month’s draft.
Washington needs guys who can play in 2010. They have not been active this year in free agency, and while they might still yet add a few solid players, they aren’t going to be long term solutions or definitive starters. Meaning the Redskins hope for rebuilding will come through the draft. They have major needs along the offensive line, with none of their starters or primary backups under the age of 30 (Stephon Heyer shouldn’t be either a starter or a primary backup). And the linemen they do have make up one of the worst units in the league. They also need help at running back and fullback, as well as another receiver.
Their situation at running back is nearly as bad as their offensive line one. Clinton Portis has aged quickly, and has taken quite a beating these past few years. His only backup right now is Larry Johnson, who has aged even quicker and has taken his own share of abuse. The Redskins could desperately use both a third down back and power back, but at least one of which should have the overall talent to begin to take a significant load by 2011, since both Portis and Johnson could be done by then.
On defense the Redskins are better and should have a talented unit this season, but they still have both short term and long term questions. They are making the transition to the 3-4, and while Albert Haynesworth can be disruptive as an end, they need to add additional 3-4 ends and nose tackles to ensure their success. Also, while Brian Orakpo should have little trouble making the switch to a rush linebacker, there is some worry about Andre Carter making the switch as well. Washington needs more depth at both inside and outside linebacker. The Redskins secondary was their Achilles Heel last year on defense, and for the most part hasn’t been addressed. The Skins should think about adding another corner, from one of the deepest corner drafts in recent memory, and adding a true free safety would allow LaRon Landry to possibly make the switch to strong safety, where his lack of coverage skills won’t get as exposed.
That is quite a bit of needs for a team looking to use their top pick on a quarterback who shouldn’t play a meaningful snap in 2010. I have no problem drafting a quarterback and addressing that need as well, but if they aren’t going to play right away and can be a bit more of a project, why not grab one in the 3rd-5th round (the Redskins currently don’t have a 3rd round pick, though they could easily remedy that with a trade). There are some very interesting projections in those rounds, guys like Tim Tebow, Jevan Snead, Dan LeFevour, Tony Pike, or John Skelton. Any of whom could very well end up being the best quarterback in this draft class. It will also allow Washington to address their MAJOR need at left tackle, in the first round. Because unlike quarterback, where you can find franchise players in every round (or even undrafted), franchise offensive tackles come pretty much from round 1. If they draft and or trade up for a quarterback, and I legitimately think the price would be the 4th pick this year, their 2nd rounder, and next year’s 1st round pick. Then the Redskins would have no way of fixing their holes on the offensive line. Those are the picks where they can find a starting tackle, and the fact of the matter is they need two of them.
Washington shouldn’t take away any of their draft picks this year or next, in fact they should be doing everything in their power to be adding to them (including trading back from 4). This is easily the deepest draft class this decade and possibly the deepest since the 1996 draft class. Their is talent at every position and about 60 guys with legit first round grades. Next year’s draft class is already shaping up to be a good class as well, since a number of quality players returned to school, because while they have first round talents they might not have cracked the top 40 picks in this class. In addition their is a very talented rising Junior class as well, that should add a number of underclassmen. Also, for what its worth, I think the top two quarterbacks in next year’s class Jake Locker, and Ryan Mallett are already better prospects than either Sam Bradford or Jimmy Claussen. There is no reason the Redskins need to force the issue this year when their team has so many needs, they should focus on filling those needs first, then add their a top quarterback (if they haven’t already found one with a mid-round pick).
Now I realize the Redskins could potentially trade a package of young players/restricted free agents with the 4th pick to move up, and preserve their draft picks. But even if they were able to package 2-4 of Jason Campbell, Rocky MacIntosh, Reed Doughty, Carlos Rodgers, Kendrick Golston (restricted free agents), Malcolm Kelly, and Fred Davis (young players) it wouldn’t be a good deal for the Redskins. Not only is it unlikely the Rams would want to shell out the long term contracts for some of the restricted players, but that is a gross overpayment in talent for a guy, who again won’t be playing this next season. While the Redskins should consider moving some of their restricted free agents if they aren’t going to sign them long term, they should get either draft picks or young players in return, that way they can fill all their needs as well as the new holes they will create.
The Redskins should table any idea of trading up for a quarterback, as well as any idea that has them taking one in the top two rounds of the draft. Sam Bradford won’t help the Redskins blocking, or running the ball and he won’t be able to help their passing attack much either since Skins won’t have addressed their first two issues.