I've said it once, and I'll say it again; the Redskins need to rebuild.
That's not to say that they didn't start the rebuilding process this season. While some will review the Donovan McNabb trade as a purely "win now" move, it was more about providing stability on a team that has been anything but stable for several seasons. This season has been more about finding the right pieces to move forward.
With the team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and with three games left to play, the Redskins will begin to turn an eye to evaluating which players will be on the football team and which ones won't be. Likewise, I'd be very surprised if Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan hadn't begun to examine film and look at the 2011 draft class.
Who knows where the Redskins are likely to get a win. Sunday's are getting bleak, so why not take a look at the 2011 Draft? Because the future certainly has to look brighter, right?
Keep in mind that I did this purely for fun. There is a reason why I'm not a general manager. This is my interpretation of what Shanahan's mentality and philosophy in the draft may be, and what the teams biggest needs are at the moment.
That said, let's took a look at the Redskins draft class for 2011.
...Julio Jones, wide receiver from the University of Alabama.
I know what you're going to say. "No more wide receivers! We need to fix the offensive line otherwise our quarterback will never get time to pass!"
Likewise, some people would like to see the best defensive end in the draft taken here, but you have to think about draft history.
For one, there's no truly dominant player to play at nose. I'm willing to give Anthony Bryant some more playing time to see how he does, but he seemed to get more push and take on more blocks than other nose tackles this season have. If he proves to be solid, taken a defensive end so early in the draft might come back and bite the team in the butt.
Likewise, while good offensive tackles are hard to come by, you can find decent guards at later rounds in the draft.
Love it or hate it, the Washington Redskins need a true weapon at wide receiver, and unlike draft busts Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, Jones actually has a proven track record of reliability.
If the Redskins are going to keep Kyle Shanahan and his pass-it-deep "I wish I still had Andre Johnson" offensive mindset, having a big, physical receiver to stretch the field can only help the team. Jones could come onto the team and be an instant starter, and his character has never been in question. He doesn't seem to have any attitude problems, and is likely to be a hard worker. He needs to bit of work on his route-running, but those are things that can be improved upon at the next level.
Jones can prove to be an impact player on a team that desperately needs them. There's other guys in the draft that could be solid prospects, but Jones might be too good to pass up. And Shanahan had some good fortune when another big, physical receiver in Brandon Marshall.
He just needs the right guy to throw it to him...
...Ricky Stanzi, quarterback from the University of Iowa.
Arizona has to be hit hard with the fact that they are firmly in win now mode. With several guys up for free agency and one very big guy hitting the free agency marker in 2011, a.k.a Larry Fitzgerald, Ken Wisenhunt and the Cardinals will decide to take a chance of Donovan McNabb.
The last time they went with a veteran over a young guy, they made it to the Super Bowl. So the Arizona Cardinals make the bold decision to trade away their second and third round picks to grab their veteran QB, effectively ending McNabb's shaky tenure with the Redskins.
In his stead, the Redskins will take a chance on a guy who probably should be a first round pick, had a shaky senior season not lowered his draft stock. Ricky Stanzi has still been solid in his time in Iowa. Iowa runs a pro style offense that's much like the Redskins offense, utilizing a solid running game, and lots of play action passes and bootlegs. He has solid mobility and accuracy, and his interceptions have gone down year after year.
He has shown a case of happy feet in the pocket, and presses a bit to make plays. That said, I also think he has some good pocket awareness, as he's able to feel pressure without seeing it, step up in the pocket and keep his eyes down field. He's got a big arm, but also has solid short and intermediate accuracy.
Despite everyone and their mother saying otherwise, I think Mike Shanahan has acknowledged the Redskins need to rebuild. He will also come to realize that McNabb may not be the answer at quarterback, and choose to roll with the young guy.
Ideally, I'm sure the Redskins would prefer to have McNabb stay at the quarterback position while Stanzi learned the system, and if McNabb struggled again, Shanahan could bench him and give the young guy an opportunity. He's done it before in Denver; it wouldn't be shocking to see it happen again.
But allure of having another second round pick, plus the Redskins getting the third round pick they spent on Donovan back might be too much to pass up if they feel Stanzi is a good enough prospect.
Stanzi is a big, talented guy who appears to be nearly NFL ready. With the help of a solid run game in his first year, and weapons like Julio Jones and vets like Chris Cooley and Santana Moss, he'd be put in a position to succeed right away. Taking him in the second round is a bit of a stretch, but with solid coaching, he could be a solid find and a draft steal for the Redskins.
Or I could end up regretting ever making this slide. Either or.
...John Moffitt, Guard for the University of Wisconsin.
Moffitt has been a left guard for most of his college career, but has been known to start at center. Either way, the Redskins need interior linemen, and Moffitt has the size and ability to be very productive for the Redskins for many years to come.
If you're going to draft a quarterback, and a wide receiver for the quarterback to throw to, then you're going to have to shore up the offensive line. Last year, the Redskins wisely took Trent Williams with their first round pick. Jammal Brown has looked fair enough in his time at right tackle. The interior of the line is where everything breaks down for the Redskins. While Kory Lichensteiger has looked okay this season, Will Montgomery is a back-up guard for a reason, and it appears unlikely that he will be a starter if the Redskins can help it.
John Moffitt can come in and start day one. Artis Hicks may be on his way out, and if Moffitt can play center, that would be all the better. The team needs youth on the offensive line. Moffitt would prove to be a solid piece to instantly improve a Redskins line that has been neglected for years.
...Steven Friday, defensive end from Virginia Tech.
The 3-4 defense will be here to stay next season, love it or hate it. The Redskins need help along their defensive line. Cedric Golston has looked good at the position, but Phillip Daniels isn't getting any younger. The Redskins need someone who can play at nose or at end, and Steven Friday seems to have the pedigree to do so.
Despite amassing a season in which he recorded 8.5 sacks for VT, perceived character issues will likely see his stock fall in the draft. See through that, Shanahan will draft him to a team that's flush with defensive veterans who will teach him great character and the value of hard work, because we know that Shanahan will accept nothing less.
At nose or at end, Friday could prove to be a great asset to a young defense. Friday would be a big time pick up here that could fit in the Redskins 3-4 scheme right away.
...Jermale Hines, safety from THE Ohio State University.
That's right--this is the trade where we offload disgruntled defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth back to where he so desperately wants to return. Back to Tennessee, and out of the burgundy and gold for good.
In the meanwhile, the Washington Redskins need some help at free safety. Kareem Moore has been okay at the position, but every year it feels like the absence of Sean Taylor is felt more and more in the DMV.
While number 21 is impossible to replace, Jermale Hines has been solid at the free safety position for Ohio State. He has the ability to be a hard hitter, and he's a solid tackler, on a team where tackling seems to be something of a loss art form. He has great speed, looks solid in coverage, and has solid hands. Unless Macho Harris comes on at the end of this season, it'd be worth using a fourth round pick on another solid defensive piece.
...Jake Kirkpatrick, center from Texas Christian University
Mike Shanahan loves competition, and what better way to foster competition than to have the old guy and the young guy duking it out for the center position.
Kirkpatrick is an athletic guy who has played center most of his career. Casey Rabach isn't getting any younger, and while John Moffitt has played center, it may turn out that he's still a better fit at left guard. The Redskins need all the help they can get along the offensive line, and Rabach is likely in the final years of his career. He has been getting pushed back at the line, and who knows if Kory Lichensteiger will be able to make the transition to center (it was the position he was originally drafted for).
Kirkpatrick has done a good job protecting Andy Dalton for the Horned Frogs, and is another piece that's desperately needed if the Redskins offense is to have any success in the future.
The o-line has been ignored long enough. If nothing else, the team could add a little depth.
...Josh Bynes, inside linebacker from Auburn University.
Inside linebacker is a odd position for the Redskins 3-4 defense. On one hand, Rocky McIntosh has performed will as inside linebacker. London Fletcher has seemingly adjusted to his new position as well, and Perry Riley was drafted last year.
On the other hand, London Fletcher isn't getting any younger, and Riley hasn't been able to work his way into the starting line up.
Josh Bynes has been a solid starter in his time at Auburn, more so than Riley was in his college career. Even as a depth add, he would still be a good piece of the 3-4 puzzle to pick up. London Fletcher doesn't look to be retiring any time soon, and he is the playcaller on the defense, but bringing in Bynes to learn underneath him would not be a bad move for the team.
...Terrance Toliver, wild receiver from LSU.
It's hard to believe a 6'5" wide receiver would drop this far in the draft, but Toliver is a bit of a raw prospect. He has the size and the hands, but inconsistently and drops (and less than quality quarterback play at LSU) leave his draft status in limbo. If the Skins took him early and he flamed out, he'd draw Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly comparisons. If they missed him all together, another team picked him up and he turned into something, they would be called insane.
He could be taken high in the draft by another team, or he can langish into the later rounds. If the latter happens, I still believe the Redskins should take a chance on him, as they are in need of some tall receivers, and, once again, who knows if Malcolm Kelly will be able to stay healthy enough to play football next season.
Toliver hasn't had a giant season, and character issues may also hurt his draft stock.
If Toliver does fall this far (some team more desperate for receiving talent than the Redskins may be willing to take a chance on him), it wouldn't be a bad move to pick up Toliver and see if he can develop into a good receiver down the line for the Redskins.
...Malcolm Smith, outside linebacker from the University of Southern California.
While Lorenzo Alexander has been somewhat solid as the right outside linebacker, but the 'Skins need someone to be complimentary to Brian Orakpo. A guy who's going to be available this late in the draft might not be able to contribute right away, but with some work, Smith could become a viable option.
Having two great pass rushers as opposed to one would be great, but just having solid one to work alongside Orakpo would be good too. And Smith has created a couple turnovers in his USC career, making him all the more interesting as a choice.
Who knows, maybe with two pass rushers, one of them might actually manage to get a referee to notice they're getting held on every play.
It's worth mentioning that, when the Redskins traded Justin Tryon to the Indianapolis Colts, they did so for an undisclosed (probably late round) pick.
With an extra pick, the Redskins could either look for another DT/DE, or, more likely, another offensive linemen. It also wouldn't be shocking (depending on where the pick falls) to see a running back here. Before you boo-hoo taking a running back so late in the draft, keep in mind that Peyton Hillis was a seventh round draft pick for Mike Shanahan, and well...
Let's just say Mike knows running backs.
Keep an eye on Stanford center Chase Feely, cornerback Charles Brown, or defensive end Eddie Jones.
1st Round Pick: Wide Receiver Julio Jones
2nd Round Pick: Quarterback Ricky Stanzi
2nd Round Pick: Center/Guard John Moffitt
3rd Round Pick: Defensive End Steven Friday
4th Round Pick: Free Safety Jermale Hines
5th Round Pick: Center Jake Kirkpatrick
5th Round Pick: Inside Linebacker Josh Bynes
6th Round Pick: Wide Receiver Terrance Toliver
7th Round Pick: Outside Linebacker Malcolm Smith
Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have the Herculean of rebuilding and reshaping a franchise that has some of the worse draft history of anyone this side of the Matt Millen era Detroit Lions.
The Redskins have holes all over, and this draft wouldn't likely solve all of them. It'll take several drafts to completely "fix" the Redskins, but you have to start with a solid foundation. This is not a "win now" draft--it's a "let's rebuild now draft". The trade of Donovan McNabb would be boo-hooed in the media, but it would be worth it if the team could finally get some solid pieces to start working with.
That's what the team needs more than anything. Pieces. If the Redskins would acknowledge and say "hey, we're rebuilding", I think there would be an outpouring of support from the fans. Because that's what we want. Rebuilding. Because whatever it is the Redskins are doing right now, it's not working.
If the Redskins can set down a foundation, they'll only be setting themselves up for success in the future. New blood and life can have a good effect on the veterans, who suddenly feel younger themselves, both by being around them and not wanting to lose to them.
The Redskins still have miles to go before they are a viable playoff contender, a fact that's hard to swallow for many a fan of the Burgundy and Gold.
But sometimes, you have to hit the reset button. If the Redskins can draft well, the reset can be a lot less harsh than it would otherwise.