In 1933 the Boston Braves were renamed the Boston Redskins. In 1936 The Boston Redskins were one of the original nine franchises to participate in the first ever NFL draft. The Redskins selected Riley Smith with the second pick that day. The first pick of the draft, Heisman trophy winner Jay Berwanger, a QB out of Alabama however chose not to play in the NFL. By forgoing professional football as a career Berwanger made the Redskins the first team to take the first player in the first NFL draft.
The next year in 1937 the team moved roughly nine hours south and became the Washington Redskins. Three Vince Lombardi trophies followed this move to the DC area and the Washington Redskins solidified themselves as one of the dominant franchises in the NFL. Then, one day, everything went downhill.
In 1999 the Washington Redskins and Jack Kent Cooke Stadium were sold to Marketing billionaire Daniel Snyder for $800 million dollars (then the most expensive purchase of a professional sports franchise in U.S. history).
Since Daniel Snyder purchased the team he has accumulated a number of very notable accolades. Under Snyder the Redskins' annual profit has increased nearly $100 million. As of 2007 Snyder had made Washington the highest grossing team in the National Football League, beating out Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboys. As an aside Snyder has FedEx to thank for this stat since it was the renaming of Jack Kent Cooke Stadium to FedEx Field that brought in the big bucks that pushed the Redskins franchise over the top.
Does this brilliant marketer make a good NFL team owner?
Under Snyder the Redskins also increased the size of their stadium to 91,000 seats, making FedEx Field the largest stadium in the NFL, a feat that would make the 12th man factor that much more difficult to deal with…or not. You see under Snyder and since his purchase of the team in 1999 the boys in burgundy and gold have had a losing record.
A losing record that may be attributed to the firing of Charlie Casserly, highly regarded as one of the best general managers in the game at the time and a 23-year veteran with the Redskins organization.
It may also be attributable to some of the personnel decisions for which Snyder himself is responsible. In 2000 he opened his checkbook in an attempt to buy his new team a Super Bowl and brought in the aging Bruce Smith and Mark Carrier as well as the most hated Redskin in history, Deion Sanders. One can argue the intelligence of this move but for the amount of money spent these decisions were a bust.
In an attempt to solve the coaching issues that the Redskins were having Danny hired NFL coaching vet Marty Schottenheimer. Snyder then proceeded to give him every opportunity to develop and groom his players and system in order to make Washington a winning program once again. He was fired after just a single year at the helm.
So Danny did as any intelligent NFL owner with more money than football smarts would do and he opened his checkbook once again and bought what might be considered the second most hated Redskin in history, Steve Spurrier. At an inexplicable salary of $5 million per year Spurrier ushered in the era of the Washington Gators.
Together Danny and Stevie acquired Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerrfel and Taylor Jacobs. Taylor was taken with the Redskins first pick (a second rounder) in Spurrier’s first draft. Jacobs later regaled the Redskins faithful with 23 games played over 2 seasons in which he made 19 catches for 215 total yards. To give you a comparison these are the stats that Wes Welker generally puts up every three or so games. Welker was not invited to the NFL combine and went undrafted in 2004.
In 2005 Snyder made another forgettable move by trading away several draft picks to move back into the first round and acquire Auburn’s former ball slinger Jason Campbell. Everyone knows how well Campbell is doing these days winning games for the Oakland Raiders.
And most recently Snyder bought Albert Haynesworth for the low, low price of $100 million. Haynesworth has certainly not lived up to that contract let alone a contract 1/3 that size. This prompted the guys on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” to discuss how Haynesworth has ruined the chance of any future great defensive lineman to receive a contract anywhere in the neighborhood of what Snyder blindly paid for Albert.
And most recently Daniel Snyder gave away two very high draft picks for the services of 34-year-old Donovan McNabb. Maybe it's just me but when a rival team within your very own division is willing to trade their starting quarterback to you, a squad that they will have to face twice every season, it makes you wonder if the QB is really worth it.
At the time did you think the trade for McNabb was a good one?
Well thankfully (heavy sarcasm) it didn’t even cross the mind of Danny boy who gladly traded away the Redskins current second round draft pick as well as a conditional third or fourth rounder.
As McNabb rides off into the sunset with the rest of Snyder’s overpriced acquisitions, I wonder if Redskins fans will be dreaming about who they might have been able to select with those two high draft picks.
With this rich decision making history in mind let us examine the Redskins' selection of players in the first round of the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting since Snyder took over in 1999 and try to determine whom the Redskins should select in this upcoming 2011 NFL draft.
2000-Rd. 1-LaVar Arrington, LB Penn State-Good
2001-Rd. 1-Rod Gardner, WR Clemson-Bust
2002-Rd. 1-Patrick Ramsey, QB Tulane-Bust
2003-Rd. 2 (first overall)-Taylor Jacobs, WR Florida-Bust
2004-Rd. 1-Sean Taylor, S Miami-Good
2005-Rd. 1 (ninth overall)-Carlos Rogers, CB Auburn-Bust
2005-Rd. 1 (25th overall)-Jason Campbell, QB Auburn-Bust
2006-Rd. 2 (first overall)-Rocky McIntosh, LB Miami-Good
2007-Rd. 1-LaRon Landry, S Louisiana St.-Good
2008-Rd. 2 (first overall)-Devin Thomas, WR Michigan St.-Bust
2009-Rd. 1-Brian Orakpo, DE Texas-Good
2010-Rd. 1-Trent Williams, OT Oklahoma-TBD
Rookie Trent Williams was signed to a six-year deal with the Redskins and thus far has performed well, minus his injury, but it is too early to tell whether or not this draft pick was a bust or a good decision. Early on I am inclined to think it was a good decision. So if we count Trent in the “Good" column then Snyder has drafted six good players and six busts with his 12 draft picks since owning the Redskins.
A 50% has always been an “F” in every school I ever attended. However, understanding the nature of drafting and the fact that it is an inexact science that produces just as many busts (Heath Schuler) as booms (Peyton Manning) the grading scale should be adjusted.
In addition I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Snyder and the Redskins have drafted more “Good” players than “Busts” over the second half of his tenure thus far which may lead one to believe that he is maturing as an owner and finally beginning to understand how to craft a playoff caliber team. I have historically been very harsh on Snyder, including this column, but maybe, just maybe, he is coming around.
But I doubt it. I doubt it because of the McNabb deal. That debacle cost us two good football players this upcoming draft. Two players that could have solidified our offensive line or hardened our pass rush. Instead those picks will be long gone along with McNabb. Oh and an additional few million dollars because we are cutting him after signing him to a ridiculous mid-season contract extension. This is just another example of Snyder’s fine decision making.
All of this in mind, the Redskins do have a first round pick in this NFL draft and, judging by all of the information above, I am still not convinced that Snyder will intelligently use that pick. In fact I am more inclined to believe that he will draft talent over need and I stated just that in an earlier column when I said I believe that they would take Mark Ingram from Alabama if he fell to them.
I may very well be wrong. Ingram may not be on the board. Washington may trade their pick. Who knows what can and will happen, but fans of the Redskins know what needs to happen. Fans of Washington know which college player will be the right pick in 2011. And so I ask these fans to comment…
If you were Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, who would you pick in the 2011 NFL Draft?