7 Biggest Draft Day Mistakes in Washington Redskins History
For all of the measurements, statistics, interviews and analysis, the NFL draft is one huge gamble. The Washington Redskins, in their illustrious history, have managed to ignore most of the raw data and stick to the gambling.
Sadly, many of Washington's draft blunders have occurred under Daniel Snyder's ownership, making the last 15 years pretty miserable.
The best scouting department in the NFL can't hit on every pick, but it would be nice if the Redskins' draft gurus had success with even one-third of their picks. Draft day mistakes can change the course of a franchise, cost a coach and his staff their jobs or, more commonly, draw the ire of the passionate fans.
Here are some of the biggest draft day mistakes in Redskins history.
Honorable Mention: 2012 Trade for Robert Griffin III
This is probably a controversial inclusion considering how early in Robert Griffin III's career it is and the desperate need for a franchise quarterback that necessitated the blockbuster trade.
Nevertheless, giving up a second-round pick and two future first-round picks for one player is an obscene price to pay.
Had the Redskins traded down in the first round of the 2012 draft, landing somewhere in the 10-15 range, they could have drafted Michael Floyd. Then, having obtained another second-round pick by trading down, draft Lavonte David and Tavon Wilson in the second round and Akiem Hicks in the third.
Kirk Cousins comes off the board in the fourth round and Alfred Morris in the sixth, netting a capable quarterback and franchise running back.
No, Cousins was not the sexy pick, nor would he have been the instant success RGIII became.
However, Cousins was a better fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense, which would have had Pierre Garcon and Michael Floyd at receiver and Morris still rumbling in the zone-run scheme.
More importantly, the defense would have a successor to London Fletcher and a solution at free safety.
One could argue that, without the pressure RGIII's electric rookie season put on Mike Shanahan and the team to repeat and excel following his injury, things would not have ended so poorly in Washington.
Hindsight is 20-20 and, more than anything, it is interesting to consider how different things might have been
1992: Desmond Howard, Receiver/Returner
No one can blame the Redskins for drafting the electric, Heisman-winning Desmond Howard in 1992 after winning the Super Bowl. Art Monk was 34 and in decline, Gary Clark was headed for 30, and they needed to start thinking about the future.
Who better to revitalize the receiving corps than Howard, who scored 21 offensive touchdowns and two special teams touchdowns for Michigan in 1991?
Well, Howard never became a consistent threat on offense and failed to light up the field on special teams. He scored six total touchdowns in three seasons with the Redskins, five of which came in his final season with the team.
Howard caught 40 passes for 727 yards and five touchdowns in 1994, good enough for 18.1 yards per catch, but not good enough for the fourth overall pick in the draft. He came at the end of the Joe Gibbs era in Washington and marks the beginning of a new era of flashy picks over smart picks in the NFL draft.
2007: LaRon Landry, Safety
LaRon Landry was a physical specimen who simply lacked the intelligence to excel as strong safety for the Redskins. He was drafted to play alongside free safety Sean Taylor, to form Area 51, but Taylor's death left Landry to fend for himself and play outside of his comfort zone.
Landry was a hard-hitter but a sloppy tackler and a liability in coverage to boot.
Though he wasn't the worst player in the world, he was drafted far too high and produced far too little for the Redskins. It hurts a little more knowing that Washington could have drafted Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis or Adrian Peterson with the sixth overall pick.
Landry has one Pro Bowl appearance in his career, which came in 2012, his first season with the New York Jets. Willis, Revis, Lynch and Peterson have 21 combined appearances, or 5.25 each, for their careers.
2008: Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis
They say bad luck comes in threes, and the third round of the 2008 draft, at least for the Redskins, is a perfect example.
Washington traded its first-, third- and fifth-round selections to Atlanta for a pair of second-round picks and their fourth-rounder. Three second-round picks should have yielded three starting-caliber players, right?
Devin Thomas, taken with the 34th overall pick, caught 40 passes for three touchdowns and rushed for one more in two seasons with the Redskins before being waived in 2010.
Fred Davis, taken with the 48th overall pick, had a great season in 2011, catching 59 passes for 796 yards and three touchdowns. Then he was suspended for the final four games of the season after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy and missed nine games in 2012 after tearing his Achilles before falling out of favor with the coaches in 2013, appearing in 10 games and catching just seven passes.
Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson was taken with the 49th pick.
Malcolm Kelly, taken with the 51st overall pick, spent most of his time battling injuries and caught just 28 passes in 21 appearances before being released in 2011 with an injury settlement.
Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice was taken with the 55th pick.
2003: Taylor Jacobs, Receiver
Steve Spurrier's ties to the Florida football program did him very few favors during his two-year stint playing NFL head coach. It led him to bring former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel on board for the 2002 season, which amounted to four starts, three touchdown passes and six interceptions.
It also led him to draft Taylor Jacobs, a Gator in his own right, and a receiver who was not worth the second-round pick the Redskins spent on him.
Maybe someone in Florida was playing a practical joke on the 'Ol Ball Coach, maybe he was doing someone a favor. Whatever the reason, to call Jacobs a reach is an understatement.
Washington was desperate for help along the offensive line, on defense and had just three measly picks to work with in 2003. Jacobs was the 44th overall pick that year.
Anquan Boldin, who has 857 catches for over 11,000 yards and 65 touchdowns in his career, was the 54th overall pick.
1996: Andre Johnson, Tackle
Desperation can drive men to do questionable things. In 1996, Charley Casserly traded Washington's second- and third-round picks to the Dallas Cowboys for the 30th overall pick in the draft.
That fateful first-round pick was used on Penn State tackle Andre Johnson. The results were disastrous.
Johnson was cut following his rookie season when he made no appearances. During his three-year NFL career, he appeared in three games for the Detroit Lions before disappearing from the league.
As if drafting a washout wasn't bad enough, Washington missed out on strong safety Lawyer Milloy, a four-time Pro Bowler and one-time Super Bowl champion, and free safety Brian Dawkins, who would go on to terrorize the team as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles for 13 seasons.
2005: Trading a Future First-Round Pick for Jason Campbell
In no universe is Jason Campbell a franchise quarterback. Joe Gibbs drafted him to be a strong game manager for his run-heavy offense led by Clinton Portis.
Even if he was the perfect fit for Gibbs' plans at the time, trading a future first-round pick and a third-round pick in 2005 to the Denver Broncos was an awful move.
Campbell had some ups and downs, but the mistake is more about what was lost than Campbell's performance. He was expected to learn offense after offense with little to no help from his offensive line and a lack of playmakers.
The Redskins, had they retained the 2006 first-round pick, would have been able to draft center Nick Mangold, who just made his fifth Pro Bowl with the New York Jets and is arguably one of the best centers in the NFL.
1994: Heath Shuler, Quarterback
How can a team in need of a franchise quarterback possibly pass up on the Heisman Trophy runner-up for the 1993 season? Heath Shuler threw 25 touchdowns to eight interceptions, rushing for another 11 touchdowns for the Volunteers in 1993.
In two seasons and 19 appearances with the Redskins, he threw 13 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
The '94 draft class wasn't exactly chock full of franchise quarterbacks, but just because a quarterback is available with the third overall pick doesn't make him worth the pick. It didn't help Shuler that the Redskins drafted Gus Frerotte in the seventh round that year.
Frerotte won the fans over despite mediocre overall production and suffering a sprained neck from headbutting a padded cement wall during the 1997 season.
Shuler, meanwhile, was traded to the New Orleans Saints in 1996 and remains one of the biggest draft busts of all time.