By drafting talented safety LaRon Landry out of LSU, the Redskins hope to drastically improve upon an atrocious 5-11 performance in 2006.
In the Redskins' predraft meeting, VP of Football Operations Vinny Cerrato made it explicitly clear that the team wouldn't reach for need positions, and would stick instead to a best-player-available strategy.
After completely ignoring the defensive line in free agency—the weakness of a defense that ranked 31st in 2006—the Redskins didn't draft a single linemen on Saturday or Sunday.
That does not by itself make this draft a bust. What might is the fact that the Washington Redskins were limited to just one first-day draft pick and only five overall.
The Redskins traded their 2007 second-round pick to the Jets in order to draft linebacker Rocky McIntosh in the 2006 draft last year. Their third-round pick went to the Denver Broncos in the forgettable T.J. Duckett deal, and their fourth-rounder belonged to San Fransisco after the equally-disappointing Brandon Lloyd trade.
At least the 'Skins managed to pick up an additional sixth-round pick selection from Chicago in exchange for Adam Archuleta.
The biggest question concerning the Redskins' draft performance came with their decision to focus on the linebacker position. The Washington defense had a lot of needs, but linebacker wasn't one of them. Still, the 'Skins picked more LBs than any other position—which wouldn't seem to make much sense given the presence of Marcus Washington, London Fletcher, Lemar Marshall, and McIntosh already on the roster.
And, without further ado, the picks:
Round One: LaRon Landry, S, LSU
Not a terribly surprising pick given the predraft scuttlebutt.
You can argue that Washington needed D-line help, but there's little question that Landry has the talent to excel on Sundays. He was the consensus best safety in draft class that included Texas' Michael Griffin and Florida's Reggie Nelson, both selected in the first round.
Still, don't expect Landry to be a Week One starter. Recent Redskins history advises us that Landry will have to wait, just like his predecessors—Rocky McIntosh, Carlos Rogers, and Sean Taylor. With that in mind, it's safe to assume that Landry enters the season behind Pierson Prioleau on the depth chart. The Redskins also added Omar Stoutmire in the offseason, though he's slated to be a backup.
Landry is fast, big, smells the ball well, and is good against the run. At LSU he had 315 tackles, 22 passes defensed, 12 picks, and eight sacks—a built resume that boasts enough honors and awards for an entire secondary.
His hands are a point of concern, as is his tendency to miss tackles while going for the big hit. Frankly, after the Sean Taylor experiment, I'm just fine with a guy who goes for the ball. The 'Skins inability to generate turnovers was at least as deplorable as our big-play defense in 2006. I'll take one or the other, though I suspect Landry is a better coverage player than Archuleta was.
All in all, Landry is a good pick. Many experts had him pegged as the best defensive man in the draft, and he obviously impressed the Redskins staff. The compatibility of two big-hitting safeties might be a problem, though I daresay that having Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry lined up next to each other is the type of "problem" most NFL coaches would gladly accept.
Round Two: Dallas Sartz, OLB, USC
You'll be hearing the word "pedigree" to describe our late round draft picks, as a few of them come from sporting family trees. Dallas Sartz, Dallas' grandfather, was a boxer at Washington State. Jeff Sartz, his father, was a safety for Oregon State.
Granted, your father and grandfather can't play football for you...but Dallas Sartz the linebacker appears capable of making an impact on Sundays.
At 6'5", his height could be valuable in coverage or on special teams. Some scouting reports say his frame makes Sartz vulnerable to blockers with low centers of gravity. That's a coachable problem.
Sartz is known as a hard worker and a selfless player, which means he's probably a guy who outplayed his physical ability due to work ethic and intensity. That's the kind of person I don't mind having on the roster. Realistically, he isn't going to push the Redskins' startes for playing time until he bulks up. Expect him to be heavier than 235 by the beginning of the season.
Sartz also has an injury history. He sat out of a lot of practices in 2005 and 2006, and missed 11 games in '05 with a shoulder injury. How you feel about Sartz will depend on whether you think those injuries were incidental or indicative of frailty, attitudinally, he seems like a tough kid who would do everything possible to get back on the field.