The Washington Redskins used their two first-round picks of the 2005 NFL Draft on a pair of Auburn standouts, Jason Campbell and Carlos Rogers. Campbell was drafted to be the quarterback of the future and the cornerstone of the franchise.
So far, many agree that the plan is going as expected. Campbell, picked 25th overall, has drawn rave reviews from anyone who has seen him this offseason. For Carlos Rogers, the ninth pick, the path to NFL success has been a little more tumultuous.
Playing alongside Shawn Springs, with a safety presence of Sean Taylor in his first couple of years, many thought Rogers would excel immediately. With Springs taking away one half of the field as a shut-down corner, it was predicted that opposing teams would throw more in Rogers’ direction.
With the comfort of hard-hitting Sean Taylor creeping behind, Rogers was expected to be able to take more gambles and use his athleticism to force interceptions.
In Rogers’ rookie season, he forced two fumbles and had two interceptions while amassing 44 solo tackles. Not a bad start in the league by anyone’s standards. However, what the statistics don’t show, at first glance, is the fact that Rogers was beat early and often. Still, it was dubbed by enthusiasts as “growing pains.”
Year two was supposed to bring better results. Though his tackles (68) and pass deflections (17) went up, Rogers’ big plays went down. He forced a fumble and had an interception during 15 games played. Even with Springs missing a large part of the 2006 season, Rogers was unable to capitalize and step into the role of No. 1 corner.
It might seem like that’s asking a little much of a second-year player, but it was the precise reason Rogers was drafted as high as he was.
Rogers’ 2007 season was cut short to seven games after tearing his ACL and MCL. His injury made way for Fred Smoot to step in. Smoot did well for the most part in Rogers’ absence as the Redskins defense improved as the season progressed.
Three years have passed by since Rogers was drafted with such promise and hope to bolster the secondary. He just turned 27 and is by no means a young man by NFL standards anymore. Rogers is listed as the starting corner opposite Springs, but Smoot’s shadow is not far behind.
Though it has not been talked about as much, this season could prove to be a make-or-break year for Rogers’ career with the Redskins. After being drafted in 2005, Rogers signed a five-year deal with Washington.
If he doesn’t produce to the level expected, don’t be surprised to see him either move down on the depth chart or not be around for the 2009 season. The Redskins' cap flexibility will leave them plenty of options for upcoming free agents, including the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha (Oakland), Phillip Buchanon (Tampa Bay), and Chris Gamble (Carolina) to name a few.
For the sake of the Redskins' season and defensive success, I hope that Rogers has the breakout year that many have been waiting for. However, if the past three seasons have taught me anything about him, I know not to set my expectations too high.