1. Have to address the QB issue first and I think anyone who reads me knows my take: They had to get one. Had to. But what I like is this: They didn’t grab one just to pacify what others wanted them to do. And by taking one late, it may have led some to give them a better draft grade, but it still wouldn’t have solved the issue. They need a quality starter and you get those early in the draft – Tom Brady miracles aside. Yes, they could have maneuvered to get in position to get one in the second round, but I can’t rip them for this. I’m not sold at all on Andy Dalton; and Colin Kaepernick could take a few years. Neither would have solved the problem this year and maybe not even next year. Oh, and I know it’s a rumor, but I’m not convinced they would have taken Christian Ponder at 16. Heard from one NFL source who said they would not have selected him. But who knows.
2. The post-draft surprise involved QB John Beck and Mike Shanahan’s profession of faith in him. That’s not surprising to anyone inside the building because they knew Shanahan liked Beck. Did he really have Beck as his No. 1 QB coming out in 2007? It’s easy to see; if he didn’t like JaMarcus Russell then he’s automatically bumped from the board. Then it’s up to ranking him above Brady Quinn and Kevin Kolb. Point: It was a thin class. I’ve talked to people who are split on him (which makes him like every quarterback in the 2011 class). I’ll post longtime scout Dave Razzano’s opinion of him later (it’s good). But will Beck be the starter? There’s a long time to go before that’s the case. But suffice to say Shanahan is legit in his praise of him. And I wonder if his comment about wanting his QB to be the first in the building and the last to leave was directed at anyone in particular.
3. The Redskins needed lots of young bodies. This roster needed an overhaul and it’s about to get one. By season’s end in 2010, even though more young guys were playing, they still had the look of a tired team at times. Young guys bring energy, not just in the field but in practice. The good thing for the Redskins is that they have a number of older professional types who can help shape these young players. That’s one reason I’d bring Santana Moss back; he knows how to work and prepare. Anthony Armstrong does, too, but Moss has 593 career receptions. That carries weight and when you add three receivers, you want to pair them with a good leader.
4. It’s easy to see several of these players having immediate impacts. Ryan Kerrigan should start; Jarvis Jenkins should, at the least, be in the rotation. And it’s easy to see receiver Leonard Hankerson – or Niles Paul even – as well as running back Roy Helu being at least key reserves on offense. And part of that is because the competition isn’t exactly fierce. Beyond that? You’re looking at special teams contributors; maybe Paul ends up returning kicks or punts. Maybe DeJon Gomes becomes an excellent cover man on special teams. There’s a chance this draft could produce more starters in 2011 than the past four drafts combined (three). But to expect multiple starters is ignoring history. An excellent draft would yield perhaps four starters. Don’t forget, sometimes guys start because the talent base is so thin. Chris Horton started as a rookie; it’s hard to see him making the roster now. What’s good about this draft is they have players who could play key roles now and a number who could develop. Players drafted after the fourth round can’t be counted on to start and the Redskins took eight players in rounds 5-7. So let’s hold off on grand proclamations of their impact. Maybe they help; but allow them to develop. Linemen need to learn how to play against professionals; so it’s great that Chris Neild has experience at the nose but don’t forget he’s their fourth of four seventh-round picks. He'll take time. I'd also say, Brandon Banks shouldn't get too comfortable at returner. Though he was electric at times last year, he's also very small and durability has to be a concern. At least they have guys who can provide help if he's hurt or if they want to keep him fresh.
5. I loved the Redskins strategy throughout the draft, which was to accumulate as many picks as possible. I thought they’d try to move up another time in the fourth round to get more high-quality types. Typically it’s the third and fourth rounds where you want to have multiple picks; they already have a lot of low-round pick players. They need high-level guys. That said, I think they took a few intriguing guys late like Aldrick Robinson and DeJon Gomes. I also thought they might try to trade to get another pick next year. Why? Next year is supposed to be a good year for QBs; get more ammo to move up if you want. Then again, they have eight picks in 2012 and if a lot of these young guys look good this year you won’t need as many next year. So you’ll have enough ammo. Plus, with the uncertainty regarding undrafted free agents, the Redskins wanted to get as many young players in their possession as they could. Mission accomplished. In the end they might have only landed a bunch of solid players, that’s better than what they had. To provide grades is silly before we’ve even seen these guys play. You can’t just go based on holes filled; it has to be about a player’s potential. But I give their strategy a solid B -- you could persuade me to go a bit higher -- and in a couple years this draft could be an A. They still have the hole at QB – maybe not in their mind – and they still need a starting nose tackle. But this is a long process and the Redskins took the proper step.