The 2011 Washington Redskins; Is Ricky Stanzi a Hidden Gem In The NFL Draft?
I'm sick of talking about Albert Haynesworth. So aside from saying I'll be happy when this bum is finally off my favorite football team, I'm kindly going to ignore him from here on out.
Instead, I want to have an eye not towards the Dan Snyder/Vinny Cerrato/Jim Zorn past, but towards the Bruce Allen/Mike Shanahan future and next season. With this season more or less in the books barring some sort of insanity happening (stranger things have happened; the Packers could miss the playoffs and the Rams could make it), it's not too soon to start looking towards next year.
There are a boatload of teams that could be in the market for a new quarterback next season. The Cardinals, Vikings, Panthers, Bills, Bengals and 49ers could all be in the market place for a new QB next season. There are a lot of names being mentioned in regards to who could declare and make it on a football team.
Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallet, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Cam Newton are all names that you hear come up and come up often when talking about the draft.
One name you don't hear is Ricky Stanzi, who has put together two good seasons for the University of Iowa, and has the stats to go with it.
The Redskins have a lot of holes to feel this season, and I'm not going to claim Stanzi is the answer the Redskins prayers--as per usual, one player does not make a team.
It also stands to reason, however, that Shanahan could finally be on the track to trying to make this football team younger.
So let's take a look at who could be the big gets and draft steals for the 2011 Washington Redskins. Because the 2010 Washington Redskins are depressing me, and I need some relief from Haynesworthgate.
Who Do The Redskins Take In The First Round?
Ask three Redskins fans who the Redskins should draft in the first round, and you'll get three different answers, and loud, violent disagreements that could last hours.
To some, the issue the Redskins must address is the offensive line. The o-line has long been a source of contention among Redskins fans as the most ignored part of the Redskins team, as Vinny Cerrato regularly drafted defensive guys and busts at wide receiver and quarterback. Part of Donovan McNabb's struggles have been a direct result of the offensive line, and they feel the team can do absolutely nothing until that is addressed.
The argument against drafting an offensive linemen in the first round, however, is that while offensive tackles are draft high prospects, the Redskins have Trent Williams as their left tackle and Jammal Brown as their right tackle. Despite Brown's health concerns, he's transitioned reasonably well to the right tackle position (and gets hurt more regularly based on issues at C and RG.)
There's a bit more consistency drafting interior linemen in the later rounds, which is why others say there is another ignored position the Redskins need to scout--wide receiver. Since he signed with the Redskins in 2005, Santana Moss has been THE number one receiver for the Redskins. However, Moss will be 34 in 2011. He's not the tallest wide receiver, and while he's still pretty fast, he's bound to lose a step or two.
To that end, Julio Jones is the wide receiver most people project the Redskins picking up. Donovan has succeeded with tall, physical receivers before (see T.O, before the workout in the back yard). The lack of a tall, jump ball receiver in the end zone has affected the Redskins when they get close to the goal line. However, Jones' route running could be better. It's also worth noting that Malcolm Kelly is still with the football team, spending another season on IR. Shanahan saw somethin in Kelly he didn't see in Devin Thomas, and if Kelly can stay healthy, it might be worth holding off on Jones if Kelly can live up to expectations.
The third, somewhat smaller position is to take a nose tackle. Though there will surely be people demanding the Redskins return to the 4-3 defense from last season, taking the best defensive end or nose tackle in the draft wouldn't be bad. This is the even less liked option, as you're even more likely to find good defensive ends later in the draft.
Who knows who the Redskins will take? I don't think they should take Stanzi here either. Whatever choice they make, they'll have their healthy share of supporters and detractors. As usual in Redskins Nation, even when you win, people will think you lose.
What Trade Value Does Albert Haynesworth Have?
I know I said I wouldn't talk about number 92, but it bears mentioning that, even with the myriad of problems he's had since he came to DC, Albert Haynesworth is still the most expendable player with the greatest trade value that the Redskins have.
The question is, what team is so hard up on the defensive side of the ball that they'd take a chance on a disgruntled, lazy player who has a problem with coaches? People are wrong to assume the issues with Haynesworth just developed this season; even last season, Haynesworth openly complained that he could not and would not play in the 4-3 defense the previous administration was running. (Which is why I think it's funny that people say he should've stayed in the 4-3).
The plus side is that Haynesworth can be had chief. Whatever team he would end up on wouldn't have to pick up a huge amount of money on his contract, which increases his trade value. If he was an expensive disgruntled d-linemen, the Redskins might have to release him, in which Albert would get what he wanted and the 'Skins would want nothing.
I think all things considered, to some team, Albert is probably worth a third round pick. I don't think anyone will give that to the Redskins though, so the best the Redskins can hope for is a 4th and/or 5th round pick. Which would still be a good deal for a team that needs all the picks they can get.
Regardless, some team (probably Tennessee) is going to want to take a chance on Fat Albert next season, and the Redskins will (hopefully) reap the benefits.
Who Else Can Fetch Some Trade Value?
There are only two Redskins I can think of off the top of my head that would be worth trading to another team.
The first would be Chris Cooley. The idea has been floated around by a few people in Redskins Nation, who claim that with Fred Davis and his yards after the catch, Chris Cooley is somewhat expendable. To that I say, yes, Fred Davis is a good pass catcher. However, he's not great at pass or run blocking, two areas in which Chris Cooley has recently excelled. And having two tight ends is always better than having one--ask the New England Patriots.
The other is Clinton Portis. Opinions on Portis have been divided moreso than any other player given his career in Washington, but he seemed to turn a corner when Mike Shanahan was bought in as the new head coach. However, injuries once again sidelined him for the season. This was Portis' last season of guaranteed money. Portis has made it clear that he still wants to play football next season, but Portis may become expendable if younger backs James Davis and Ryan Torain prove to be a reliable backfield.
Portis actually managed to get himself in great season, and he is still regarded as one of the best pass blocking backs in the league. It's not outside the realm of possibility that the Redskins amicably split with the veteran running back to a team that needs a guy like Portis.
It could be hit or miss for which team would pick up Portis. The Bucs could use a third down back, as Lagarette Blount has earned his fair share of carries, but Cadillac Williams can't seem to get out of the driveway. Minnesota will be without Brett Favre next year, and their offensive line has been exposed in recent weeks. While Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the league, his pass blocking leaves something to be desired, as does Toby Gerhart's. It used to be Chester Taylor's job in Minnesota--Portis could fill the role. And if Gary Kubiak (or at least Kubiak's ZBS) stays put in Houston, Portis could become a great counterpart of Arian Foster, one again in the third down back role.
However, both of these things are something of a stretch. Cooley is too much of a commodity and asset to the football team. He might be able to fetch a high draft pick, but the cost might be too great, especially considering McNabb's chemistry with the tight end.
It's a crap shoot how much Portis is worth. On one hand, Portis leaves it on the field every play, and can be an excellent third down back. But the flip side of that is, who is going to want to take a chance on a 29 year old running back who has now had two major injuries sideline him for an entire season? He could be worth a fourth and/or fifth rounder, but it's a bit of a stretch.
Love It Or Leave It--Ricky Stanzi Could Be The Steal of The Draft
Ricky Stanzi isn't getting a lot of hype, despite his "Love It or Leave It" statement.
His past two seasons in Iowa have been impressive, and he has shown improvement. His completion percentage is up, and he threw for 25 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. The Iowa Hawkeyes run a pro style offense, and utilize a lot of play action passes, bootlegs, rollouts and quarterback runs...just the kind of play Mike Shanahan likes out of quarterback. He has great size, good arm strength and accuracy for a QB. And he loves America, which is always a plus.
But what's even better about him is his pocket presence. Who knows if the Redskins can address all the offensive line issues in one draft. His ability to scramble, step up in the pocket and make throws on the run make him the exact kind of guy Mike Shanahan loves.
Though Donovan McNabb would still likely the Redskins starter, there is a reason why Shanahan put that "out" clause in his contract. Though John Beck may prove to be a serviceable back-up, he's not likely to be the long term start at any point. Rex Grossman will likely move on to greener pastures, probably to a more gullible team that thinks he can be the starter.
The team will be adding youth to a lot of positions on the field. Even if Stanzi didn't see the field, a year to develop under Donovan McNabb wouldn't be a bad deal.
But more importantly, what happens next season if McNabb struggles again? What if the Redskins make upgrades to everything---the offensive line, the wide receiving core, a solid running game, a better performing defense---and it's still McNabb that's the problem.
Shanahan has already shown that he's willing to bench Super 5. And Shanahan has shown a knack for benching his quarterback's in Denver, even if it wasn't the popular decision.
The next time Shanahan decides to bench McNabb, I'd rather have a rookie in there instead of Rex Grossman or John Beck.
I don't think the Redskins should take Stanzi in the first round. But if all the quarterbacks who are expected to declare actually do declare, Stanzi could still be around in the second round.
Where Will The Rebuilding Start; On The Offense of The Defense?
The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
The question for the Redskins is, which wheel is squeakier? Which side of the ball is worse?
Is it the defense that's ranked at or near the bottom of the league in total defense for the whole year, or is the it the offense that had the worst third down conversion percentage?
Is it the defense that gives up a ton of yards and huge plays but generally keeps teams out of the end zone, or the offense that's good for two or three big plays a game, but can't get in the end zone itself?
If both wheels are squeaking, which one do you fix?
I think the answer to this question is simple--balance.
It'd be helpful if someone, anyone could get the Redskins their third and round picks back. But I do think the Redskins can have a balanced, productive draft on both sides of the ball.
I think in the first round, the Redskins will go defense. I've heard a lot of people say that defense is what got Shanahan fired in Denver, but contrary to popular belief, Shanahan made many solid defensive draft choices there. Shanahan's last season in Denver was due more to some offensive struggles (i.e. running backs dropping like flies) than it was all on the defense.
The Redskins have so many needs, they have to be balanced and smart with all their draft choices. Shanahan has find some gems in those later rounds of the drafts, and it'd be great if he could pullout a couple again. (Can you believe that Peyton Hillis was a seventh round pick?)
If I'm the Redskins, I would focus mainly on defensive upgrades. A nose tackle and an OLB to compliment Brian Orakpo are also adjustments that need to be made, along with an ILB. Some people will say we need a shutdown corner to replace Carlos Rodgers, but I'll give Kevin Barnes a couple more weeks to see how good he is.
Offensively, there are still more option in free agency. Upgrading the o-line at guard and center is a must. Again, I'll see how Will Montgomery does as the starter at guard for the rest of this season.
The Redskins need a couple big pieces on both sides of the ball. Big pieces on either side of the ball could provide instant upgrades.
Balance is key for a team that hasn't been balanced in some time.
However, this is the Redskins, and just like with every year, we're probably due for a couple surprises.
Personally, I gotta feeling that we're all going to get Stanzied.