2011 NFL Draft: 5 Players the Washington Redskins Won't Draft in the First Round
The Washington Redskins have a whole lot of holes to fill in the offseason.
Of course, when have the Redskins gone into the offseason without a lot of holes? Certainly they had holes on their team when they chose to trade away what could've been a crucial second round pick for quarterback Donovan McNabb. That pick, along with the third and fourth round picks given up in the 2011 NFL Draft, put the team in a bit of a hole. Their "let's get one playoff run" mentality backfired and now the 'Skins are firmly in rebuilding mode.
The Redskins do enter the draft with seven draft picks this season, but they are without their third and fourth round picks for the foreseeable future, unless the can offload McNabb and depose of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth for the right price.
That puts the draft picks they have at a premium. With the current uncertainty of the collective bargaining agreement and not knowing when free agency will start, that makes every pick even more valuable.
With that being said, it's been very interesting seeing who others think the Redskins will draft in the first round. Most of these people have no knowledge of the Redskins needs beyond what they hear on TV.
They know the Redskins defense was ranked near the bottom of the league, they know McNabb won't be back, and they know that the Redskins don't have a receiving core. They also know that Dan Snyder is the owner, which colors people's opinion of who is in control of personnel matters.
Make no mistake, head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen are firmly in control of the personnel decisions, and contrary to popular belief, Mike Shanahan has had some recent success when he was handling the draft in Denver. (See: Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Ryan Clady, Eddie Royal, Peyton Hillis, Ryan Torain, etc.)
There are a lot of bad predictions out there, so let's clear the air and look at the five players who will not be drafted by the Redskins in the first round.
Say all you want about Cam Newton's intangibles, Mike Shanahan will not be drafting the Auburn quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner.
Though Newton has had a fantastic season, one also has to remember that he's only had one remarkable season. Last year, no one thought Tim Tebow would (or deserved) to be drafted in the first round. Though he had a much better track record in college than Newton, Cam has popped up in numerous drafts as the 10th pick overall.
Newton backed up Tebow for one season at the University of Florida before getting in trouble and playing at Blinn College. This is not to discount his season at Auburn University. It has been incredible and he deserves the recognition he's been getting. But one good season—heck, one great season—will not blind Mike Shanahan to Newton's abilities at the next level.
Newton has worked exclusively out of the spread offense in his playing time. Newton usually makes one or two reads, pulls the ball down, and runs. That style cannot and will not translate well to the NFL.
Shanahan already had a chance to pick up a quarterback like Newton in 2006. He chose Jay Cutler instead of Vince Young. Cutler is about to play in the NFC Championship Game. Vince Young is on the cusp of getting released.
With nagging character issues, zero experience in pro style offenses, and a lot of work to do, Shanahan will pass on Newton. Newton may have a ton of upside, but he could also be a tremendous bust. With an owner like Daniel Snyder, who appears to have changed his ways a little but still desperately wants to win, Shanahan cannot afford to take a chance on a potential bust.
If the Redskins go for a quarterback in the first round, Shanahan will go for someone who is closer to being ready to play than a guy who could take years to develop, if he develops at all.
Another team may take a chance on Newton in the first round, but it won't be the Redskins.
Shanahan knows running backs.
As head coach in Denver, he never drafted a running back in the first round. His blue chipper athlete wound up being a fifth round draft choice named Terrell Davis. Clinton Portis and Tatum Bell were second round draft picks who both had a lot of success in Shanahan's system, but they were ultimately traded away and replaced by other, lower drafted running backs.
Recently, his seventh round draft pick, Peyton Hillis, lit the world on fire with the Browns. Ryan Torain, a fifth round draft pick from the same draft class as Hillis, recently had a pretty remarkable season in Washington, as well.
All this adds up to a football team that will be without Mark Ingram next season. Shanahan has had more luck consistently drafting running backs in the later rounds. That, and the Redskins have an entire stable of running backs either signed to contracts or futures contracts. As of now, the Redskins have Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, James Davis, Andre Brown, Shawnbrey McNeal, and Chad Simpson all on their roster.
This also doesn't take into account that Mark Ingram isn't a Shanahan style running back. Shanahan prefers his running backs to be one cut, hit the hole, and get up field kind of back. Ironically, Ingram is more of a Joe Gibbs type of running back—a power runner who's fast enough to get outside, but who's best asset is running between the tackles.
Ingram is a solid talent, but running back is one of the few places where the 'Skins don't need new talent. And if Shanahan can pull a talent like Peyton Hillis out of thin friggin' air, I trust he'll be able to do that again.
Like I said, Shanahan knows running backs.
I think people are confused about why the Redskins defense had something of a fall from grace this season.
It's easy to look at the fact that they got 40 sacks last season and 26 sacks this season and say that the Redskins need a pass rusher, but that ignores the true problem. For one, the team is adjusting to a 3-4 scheme, which is not an easy adjustment for any team to make.
The Redskins defensive line created little to no pressure in the beginning of the season, as their starting nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu created no pressure and drew no blocks. This meant the linebackers also had trouble getting pressure.
The secondary didn't help, while Carlos Rogers and DeAngelo Hall are both solid corners, they couldn't find a nickel corner to help them out. LaRon Landry might've been having a Pro Bowl season before his injury, but starting free safety Kareem Moore was abysmal.
All this combined to form a defense that was in flux for most of the season.
With that being said, the Redskins don't need another pass rushing outside linebacker. Brian Orakpo is going back to the Pro Bowl this season (albeit because either Clay Matthews or Lance Briggs will be going to the Super Bowl) and easily could've had more than his 8.5 sacks.
Lorenzo Alexander has proved to be at least a solid OLB opposite him, but the Redskins recently found that 2009 draft pick Rob Jackson could give them a second pass rusher if need be.
All these are reasons that the Redskins will not take North Carolina's Robert Quinn. Contrary to popular believe, the 'Skins have more pieces that can work in a 3-4 defense than most people know, but their pass rush is the least of their worries. They desperately need a new free safety, a new nose tackle, defensive ends, and potentially an inside linebacker.
A pass rushing outside linebacker...not so much.
Couple that with the fact that Quinn has been out of football for an entire season and that adds up to the 'Skins not taking Quinn with the 10th pick overall.
For some reason, Ryan Mallett draws a lot of comparisons to Jay Cutler, and that makes people think Shanahan will take him. Aside from his big arm and occasional bouts of inaccuracy, Mallett brings none of the intangibles Cutler had and considerably more baggage.
For one, Cutler had a lot more mobility than Mallett. Not Michael Vick mobility, but good pocket mobility, and he can make the plays with his legs when he needs too.
Mallett is a statue in the pocket and can't allude the pass rush, and while he can pull the ball down and run occasionally behind a Redskins offensive line that should be improved, but still may not be the best in the league.
More mobility is a must.
Mallett also has a little bit more trouble with accuracy than even Cutler has. He's got the arm, but the arm is pointless if he's putting the ball in the wrong place. He's got impressive size and would be hard to take down, but the Redskins just got done dealing with a quarterback who has good size and was hard to bring down, but was also inaccurate.
Mallett, like Newton, is a project quarterback. Given work, he could develop into something good, but time is at a premium with Shanahan. Mallett has a better chance than Newton of getting drafted by the Redskins, but not by a whole lot.
The Redskins do not have the worst receiving core in the NFL. Ask the Panthers who have the worst receiving core in the NFL sometime—I bet they disagree.
The worst receiving core doesn't have a wide receiver with 93 receptions for 1,115 yards (Santana Moss), a rookie with 44 receptions for 871 yards (Anthony Armstrong), and two tight ends with 77 receptions for 849 yards (Chris Cooley) and 21 receptions for 316 yards (Fred Davis), which is to say nothing of the running back who had 39 receptions for 309 yards (Keiland Williams).
It'd be a lie to say the Redskins don't need a true number one receiver. But free agency is deep at wide receiver, and with so many holes to fill, it seems likely they will forgo drafting a wide receiver early and take a chance on one in the later rounds.
Julio Jones is a big time prospect, with big time potential, but should he fall to the number 10 spot, Shanahan will likely draft a need that is bigger than wide receiver.
And if past is any sign of the future, Shanahan has had more luck drafting receivers in later rounds than in the first. Marcus Nash caught a grand total of four passes for 79 yards in his rookie season after being selected with Denver's number one pick in 1998. He was traded to the Dolphins in 1999 and released shortly thereafter.
Ashley Lelie was drafted in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, but didn't become a starter until 2004. He did have a great season, but became a pain in Shanahan's neck in the 2006 season when the Broncos pursued Javon Walker. Lelie went on to fizzle out while playing for the Falcons, 49ers, and Raiders.
And then there's "The Beast."
Brandon Marshall was a fourth round pick in the 2006 draft. He went on to have three consecutive seasons with 100 receptions, four consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving, set a record for receptions in a single game with 21, and earned the nickname "The Beast" for his ability to break tackles and get yards after contact.
I will repeat, Brandon Marshall was a fourth round pick.
This is to say nothing of Rod Smith, who wasn't drafted at all. Smith is the only undrafted free agent in NFL history to surpass the 10,000 yards receiving mark and is ranked 15th in career receptions and 16th in receiving yards.
I think Shanahan will take his chances with a wide receiver later in the draft.