There is much debate over the Washington Redskins' performance in the 2008 NFL Draft. By selecting two wide receivers and a tight end in the second round, following a trade out of the first round (they were to pick at number 21 in the first round), the Redskins added talented depth at a position of dire need a year ago.
Fans tend to forget that the Redskins signed Reche Caldwell two weeks prior to the start of the 2007 season, and longtime veteran Keenan McKardell two weeks after the start of the season. This happened out of necessity, not "cuz they felt like it."
Yes, they have veteran Todd Yoder backing up Pro Bowler Chris Cooley at TE. Yoder has amassed an astounding eight, count 'em, EIGHT receptions the last two seasons combined.
Other than Robert Royal's 18 receptions in 2005, there has been no other tight end catching passes from Redskins quarterbacks since Cooley was drafted. They needed a quality backup TE. And now they have one.
I wrote in my roster breakdown that I expected the Redskins to draft a TE, and they did. I didn’t think it would be in the second round though.
The bigger, more reasonable question would be: Was there a quality defensive lineman available when the Redskins selected their second wide receiver, Malcolm Kelly?
Well, the short answer is: It depends on who you ask.
Trevor Laws, Calais Campbell, Quentin Groves, and Jason Jones were drafted after the Redskins' first pick of the second round (34th overall). Phillip Merling, the only defensive lineman left that the Redskins had targeted for their original pick at 21st overall, was selected two spots ahead of them in the second round by the Miami Dolphins.
Just missed him, but that is how things go in the draft sometimes.
One could say this was evidence that they shouldn't have traded down to begin with. But others recognize the value obtained from that trade and agree with it. And then it was time to move on to the next best player available.
None of the players I listed had consensus grades above the three players the Redskins chose in the second round. Does that mean Thomas, Davis, and Kelly will be better than each of them in the NFL? Certainly not.
But it does mean the Redskins selected "high quality" with “high value” at each selection—a much better result than "reaching" for players to fill a need who may not even be able to make the team.
The reality is that drafting players is a crap shoot to begin with. The only thing any club can do is evaluate each player, and select the players they consider to be closest to a "sure thing" for their team.
No one can say otherwise. And no one can properly judge a draft class for at least two, or more likely, three years. So let’s break down the draft as best we can.
The Washington Redskins draftees:
- Round 2, (34th overall) (From Raiders through Falcons) Devin Thomas WR 6'2" 215lbs. from Michigan State
- Round 2, Pick 17 (48th overall) (From Texans through Falcons) Fred Davis TE 6'4" 248 lbs. from Southern Cal
- Round 2, Pick 20 (51st overall) Malcolm Kelly WR 6'4" 218 lbs. from Oklahoma
- Round 3, Pick 33 (96th overall) (Compensatory selection) Chad Rinehart OT 6'5" 320 lbs. from Northern Iowa
- Round 4, Pick 25 (124th overall) (From Titans) Justin Tryon CB 5'9" 190 lbs. from Arizona State
- Round 6, Pick 2 (168th overall) (From Rams ) Durant Brooks P 6'0" 204 lbs. from Georgia Tech
- Round 6, Pick 14 (180th overall) (From Broncos through Rams) Kareem Moore DB 5'11" 213 lbs. from Nicholls State
- Round 6, Pick 20 (186th overall) Colt Brennan QB 6'3" 205 lbs. from Hawaii
- Round 7, Pick 35 (242nd overall) (Compensatory selection) Rob Jackson DE 6'4" 257 lbs. from Kansas State
- Round 7, Pick 42 (249th overall) (Compensatory selection) Chris Horton FS 6'0" 212 lbs. from UCLA
There are solid chances for each of these young men to actually make the team in 2008. The first two, Devin Thomas and Fred Davis were by consensus the best players at their positions in this draft.
Thomas is a big fast wideout who plays a physical brand of ball. Not afraid to block, he will need to improve his run blocking, but he should be a very willing run blocker. He considers himself a bigger, faster version of Santana Moss.
Davis best compares to Pro-Bowl TE/H-Back Chris Cooley. Davis says he has been watching and trying to emulate the gifted TE for years. Davis also claims he is a deep threat and that he can beat any linebacker. He should be fun to watch.
Cooley, Moss, and Antwaan Randle El, on the field at the same time! Throw in Thomas or Davis—what are defenses going to do? With Clinton Portis in the backfield, this offense will pose significant problems for opposing defenses.
And what if Moss or Randle El or Thomas get tired—or worse, injured? No problem. The third pick in the second round, Malcolm Kelly, can come in to make defenses even more concerned. This is a young man who feels he has much to prove.
For Redskins fans who have heard all the talk of his 40 time, don’t be concerned. Jerry Rice—you've heard of him, right? Kelly’s 40 time was faster than Rice’s. He doesn’t play football in shorts running on a clean field with no one chasing him. Don’t be surprised if Kelly turns out to be the steal of this draft. That’s a heckuva' second round, isn’t it?!
The third round brought what most expected—offensive line depth. And hopefully, a future starter at one of the guard spots or at center.
Chad Rinehart played both guard and tackle positions at Northern Iowa, but earned a name for himself at left tackle. Widely considered a top guard prospect in the NFL, Rinehart also is known to have a bit of a mean streak. This was another HIGH value pick in the third round.
Justin Tryon, cornerback from Arizona State, is another kid with an attitude. Some of his quotes have already gotten the media on his side. This kid is likely going to fight for the fourth corner spot, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t end up a solid nickelback—the third corner on the field.
Another shocker for many was the Redskins picking a punter in the sixth round. Durant Brooks was the nation's best punter in 2007, winning the Ray Guy award. The kid showed a big leg, with an almost amazing touch. Very good at dropping punts inside the 20-yard line, he should be able to beat out inconsistent Derrick Frost.
Another sixth-round pick—Kareem Moore, a safety from Nicholls State—is likely to provide depth needed at his position, and be an excellent special teams player.
Defensive end—that’s right, they did draft a defensive lineman—Rob Jackson from Kansas State is a project of a player. With some solid skills, he is considered to be tenacious. He could be a longshot to make the practice squad as a rookie.
Jackson is comparable to a couple of youngsters many already know—Chris Wilson and Alex Buzbee.
Seventh rounder Chris Horton, a safety from UCLA, is considered an “in the box” safety. A guy who likes to hit, he lacks cover skills—so no, he is not a replacement for the late Sean Taylor.
But he likely makes the roster as a special teamer. Many had him rated as one of the special teams standouts of the draft. The Skins' next Pierson Prioleau? Considering Prioleau just signed with Jacksonville, that would be a good thing.
Somebody missing? Oh yeah, the quarterback Colt Brennan. I don’t think I need to tell anyone about the records this kid set, everybody already knows about that. There is talk that he may have some character concerns, but people who know him say that there are no such issues.
His size? The numbers you see in the list are directly from NFL.com: 6'3" and 205 pounds. That’s not small in my book. For a sixth-round pick, this is likely one of the steals of the draft.
Brennan is not likely going to take Jason Campbell’s job, but he could end up earning the Redskins a second- or even a first-round pick in a trade in three to five years. Another excellent pick.
So what’s not to like? I am very happy with this draft. Of the 10 selections the Redskins made in this draft, I will be surprised if at least seven of them don’t make the team. We wanted youth—well, we got it!
This is the way teams are supposed to draft, every year. Perhaps the even bigger question is: Can the Redskins front office do this again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, and so on?