Lessons Learned from Washington Redskins', Allen/Shanahan's 2012 Draft Strategy
The Redskins have been anything but a boring team in the draft—that is when they still have draft picks. The team made one of the biggest trades in NFL draft history over a month before the draft in one of the most revealing moves of this, or any, offseason. Head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen have strong beliefs about how to build a winner. What did the results of the draft say about those beliefs?
Shanahan and Allen aren't afraid of betting their jobs on one player.
And why should they be? Robert Griffin III elevated his entire team while displaying the rarest package of athletic and throwing talent we've seen since Michael Vick. The price of two future first-round picks and their 2012 second round pick to move up four spots for Griffin will look like a huge bargain if he plays up to his ability.
Keep in mind that Griffin will be signed for a fraction of the cost of other elite quarterbacks, and he'll start from day one. The savings at a key position are another asset the Redskins acquired when they traded up for Griffin.
Obviously, Shanahan and Allen's fates are tied to Griffin, but before the move, they were tied to Rex Grossman or Ryan Tannehill or whatever quarterback they could draft in the first round in 2013—if owner Dan Snyder would be patient enough to wait for that player's development.
The bigger gamble might have been not trading up for Griffin.
The Redskins most puzzling move isn't puzzling at all.
The media made hay of the Redskins taking Kirk Cousins in the fourth round, some even going as far as manufacturing a quarterback controversy where none exists. Assuming the Redskins had a high grade on Cousins, the pick makes a ton of sense.
The Patriots and Eagles have both traded developing backup quarterbacks that show flashes for second-picks—and more in the Eagles case. Robert Griffin III's playing style will make him one of the highest injury risks in the league at quarterback. Competent quarterbacks are perpetually in short supply in the NFL.
We may disagree about whether the Redskins were right to have a high grade on Cousins, but assuming they did, he was a smart pick no matter who they had at quarterback.
Mike Shanahan is always prospecting for running backs.
The coach that made a thousand-yard rusher out of Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary can't help himself. The Redskins took Alfred Morris, a similar fullback/running back grinder in the sixth round. He'll help on special teams and he is a high character hard-working leader, but you have to think Shanahan also said to himself, "He can work in our running game" when he signed off on drafting Morris.
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