The Washington Redskins over the past decade or so have been notorious for their drafting skills; namely their lack of draft picks and poor decisions. But among the bad picks and misses, the Redskins have made several franchise changing decisions over the last dozen years.
1. Drafting Carlos Rogers with the 9th pick in 2005.
While Rogers was the best cornerback on the board and the Redskins certainly needed a cover man, this decision has haunted them over the past seasons. The Skins passed on local Maryland boy Shawne Merriman and Troy's DeMarcus Ware. Not only has Merriman been one of the best pass rushers in the league, Ware terrorizes the Redskins twice a year. The Redskins on the other hand haven't had a dominating pass rusher since that draft, trying unsuccessfully to sign washed up free agents like Philip Daniels and Jason Taylor.
2. Drafting Heath Shuler with the 3rd pick and Gus Frerotte with the 197th pick in 1994.
Now Frerotte never achieved greatness in the league, Shuler immediately held out through training camp and Frerotte became the darling of the Redskins fans. The moniker "In Gus We Trust" spread quickly and Shuler amidst finally signing and playing awful found himself as public enemy No. 1. As a 25-year old Redskins fan, I can say that my generation will always remember drafting Shuler as the Redskins most dubious draft day decision.
3. Drafting Sean Taylor (5th) and Chris Cooley(81st) in 2004.
Redskins brass debated heavily over picking Kellen Winslow Jr. or Sean Taylor and although tragedy befell Taylor several years later, Washington made the right pick. Taylor made an instant impact and Winslow didn't make a name for himself until his third season in the league. Cooley has been a touchdown machine and has easily outscored Winslow in their young careers. Taylor captured the fans hearts with his hard hits and enthusiasm for the game and he will never be forgotten by Redskins fans.
4. Drafting Champ Bailey in 1999.
Not only did Bailey become one of the top corners in the league as a Redskins, he enabled the Redskins to acquire Clinton Portis. Bailey provided the Redskins with lockdown defense and now Portis supplies the Redskins with virtually all of their offense.
5. Drafting Lavar Arrington (2nd) and Chris Samuels (3rd).
While Arrington started out as a beast in his early seasons, he quickly fell out of favor with Gregg Williams and found himself off the Redskins roster. Arrington is perhaps the biggest example of untapped potential in the past 20 years. Meanwhile Samuels has been a solid, consistent offensive lineman that has anchored some of the best rushing attacks over the last decade.
6. Drafting Stephen Davis with pick 102 in 1996.
After being a Heisman favorite his senior year at Auburn, injuries caused Davis to fall and the Redskins got a great bargain. Davis was a bulldog with the ball and during his peak he was one of the best goalline rushers in the league. While Davis's star was out quicker than most, the impression he left on the minds of Redskins fans will be everlasting.
7. Drafting Michael Westbrook 4th in 1995.
Westbrook had one phenomenal season, but was always injured and his effort came into question throughout his extremely mediocre career. He will always be remembered for punching Stephen Davis at practice, but perhaps it was Westbrook who needed a few slaps to the head.
8. Drafting Patrick Ramsey 32nd in 2002.
To be fair, Ramsey was placed in the chaos that was Steve Spurrier's tenure in Washington and was hit hard and often by opposing defenses. Ramsey had a good arm and made quick decisions but similar to David Carr, all of those hard hits made him skittish and unable to hang in the pocket long enough to make a difference.
9. Trading up to draft Jason Campbell at 25th in 2005.
While Campbell still has one more season to prove himself, it seems his throwing motion and decision making capability is simply too slow for Jim Zorn's West Coast offense. Hopefully Campbell takes the next step but he seems like just another first round bust in what has become a all too painful trend for the Redskins.
10. Drafting Chris Horton 249th in 2008.
Picked as an afterthought, Horton seized a starting safety position after injuries hit and he never looked back. With the ability to stop the run like a linebacker and great ball instincts, Horton seems like he will be a force for a long time in the Redskins secondary.
As the 2009 draft approaches, Redskins fans can only hold their breath and hope owner Daniel Snyder allows the football people to make the important decisions. But no matter who they pick and how it works out, it is always fun to analyze and imagine what could have been because remember, hindsight is 20/20.