The Washington Redskins should take a safety with their first pick. No wait, a cornerback. But then again, a tight end might be nice, too.
I used think to think it was a cliche that weak general managers hid behind, but for once the Redskins really should draft the best player on the board Friday with the 51st overall selection in the NFL Draft.
For a defending division champion, Washington has a lot of current and future needs. Safety would seem the safest pick; a couple of good ones still should be on the board. But what if a more desirable cornerback is still available? The Redskins need one now; next year two starters become free agents.
Same goes for tight end. It seems silly to take a tight end since Fred Davis is back, but he only has a one-year deal. Plus, the once deep position really has no other pass catching threat. Coach Mike Shan?ahan can disguise tight end Logan Paulsen as a receiver all he wants, but it's not the same thing. So taking a tight end here is more about 2014 and beyond.
The NFL seems like it's all about right now, but teams can't really build that way. The Redskins tried for years to plug in free agents with no success. It wasn't until the draft netted impact players such as quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris that Washington won the NFC East.
So while it's tempting to draft for need this year, it's also fine to think about the future if the person is worth the wait. That's the great part of not having a first-round pick as part of last year's trade for Griffin -- it forces the team to take a long-range view.
Oh, there should be someone on the board to plug in right away. At least in a rotating role. Second-rounders should be starters. Even third-rounders are possible starters -- unless it's a Super Bowl team.
If Griffin is sound for 16 games, the Redskins are a deep playoff contender. Otherwise, it's really all about 2014 anyway. The salary cap sanctions will be over, so the team can load up on a couple top free agents who are hopefully final pieces and not core players.
What about trading up into the first round? The team already has mortgaged this and next year's first-rounders for Griffin. Another big move might be too much. Draft picks, which Shanahan has done well with over the past three years, are needed to make a final push. Trading top choices was fine for George Allen but not his son Bruce, Washington's general manager.
So who will the Redskins take? It's probably the most wide open pick in years -- maybe since choosing Desmond Howard in 1992. Whoops, that didn't work out so well.