2011 NFL Draft: Why the Washington Redskins Shouldn't Trade Down

Brad VippermanCorrespondent IApril 8, 2011

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Head coach Steve Spurrier of the Washington Redskins talks with quarterback Patrick Ramsey #11 during a timeout against the Atlanta Falcons on September 14, 2003 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. The Redskins defeated the Falcons 33-31. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images).
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

There has been much talk in recent weeks about the Washington Redskins needing help at virtually every position.  One solution offered by many pundits is to trade down from the No. 10 pick to acquire more draft choices.  As a Redskins fan myself, I disagree.

The Redskins personnel blunders since Daniel Snyder bought the team a little over a decade ago have been well chronicled.  Between Snyder’s misguided free agency enthusiasm and former GM Vinny Cerrato’s draft day blunders, the 21st century has been a rough one for the ‘Skins and their fans.

One of the mistakes that Cerrato consistently made was trading the Redskins future draft picks for assets that never equaled the value of the pick.  To compensate for this, several times the Redskins traded down from a high pick to one much lower and lost out on far better players.

For example, in the first round of the 2002 NFL draft, the Redskins had the 18th pick.  While on the clock, the Redskins traded down to the 21st pick and then again to the 32nd before ultimately drafting Patrick Ramsey who, for a multitude of reasons, never panned out in Washington. 

Some of the players that went between 18 and 32 in that draft were Ashley Lelie and Javon Walker (the Redskins desperately needed a WR that year to the point that they gave their first-round pick next year to the Jets for Laverneus Coles), Napoleon Harris, Kendall Simmons, Lito Sheppard and Ed Reed!!

The next season, as stated, the Redskins signed restricted free agent, Laverneus Coles, whom the Jets had tendered at a first-round pick.  As a result, the Redskins forfeited the 13th pick in the draft and the opportunity to take players such as Troy Polamalu, Dallas Clark, Willis McGahee, Larry Johnson (the ‘Skins biggest need that season was at Running Back) and Nnamdi Asomugha.

Before the 2005 draft, the Redskins traded their first-round pick in the 2006 draft to move back into the first round in ’05 and take quarterback, Jason Campbell.  While I loved Campbell as a Redskins fan and am ashamed of the way he was treated by the organization, especially down the stretch, given the events that occurred I think it’s safe to say that wasn’t the right move.  This is especially true when you realize they could have used the ensuing 22nd pick in ’06 on players such as Davin Joseph, Jonathan Joseph, Santonio Holmes or Mathias Kiwanuka.

In 2008 the Redskins had the 21st pick and traded down to acquire more picks.  They famously turned these picks into Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly who were supposed to add youth, talent and explosion to a passing game that desperately needed it. 

Instead, Thomas never matured into a pro, Kelly hasn’t been able to stay healthy and the Redskins have the same need heading into this year’s draft.  On the board at number 21 that year were, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson, Antoine Cason and, of course, DeSean Jackson (who the Redskins, despite trading out of the 21st pick, still passed on twice).

Conversely, when the Redskins have stayed put in the draft and used the pick they had to start with, it has netted them, Sean Taylor (No. 5 in ’04), LaRon Landry (No. 6 in ’07), Brian Orakpo (No. 13 in ’09) and Trent Williams (No. 4 in ’10).  All of these players made immediate positive impacts and became the future of the franchise at their positions.

With the 10th pick in this year’s draft, the Redskins have a great opportunity to add another building block.  Whether that block occurs at quarterback in the form of Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton or Jake Locker, wide receiver in Julio Jones, or at some other position, remains to be seen.  Given the historical trend, however, I think it’s safe to say the Redskins have a better chance at striking gold if they just stay put.


—Brad Vipperman

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