Sensible and long-term decisions marked the Washington Redskins' first two draft selections.
Without a first-rounder because of the trade last year for Robert Griffin III, the Redskins opted for future starters with their second- and third-round picks. With 50 players gone before its first choice, Washington found a much-needed third cornerback who could start by 2014. The same thing happened in the third round with a backup tight end that figures to factor more next season.
No more looking for immediate help. The Redskins are following the New England Patriots' winning formula of strengthening reserves and looking ahead to replace current starters. It's a smart system.
North Carolina State cornerback David Amerson and Florida tight end Jordan Reed were sharp pickups. Both were probably better than the 51st and 85th overall selections, respectively. By waiting, the Redskins saw two future starters fall to them.
Amerson is a ballhawk whose undisciplined style, fueled by overconfidence following a monstrous sophomore season, can be fixed. This is simple matter of "coaching him up." Amerson has skills, shown by 13 interceptions in 2011. He just believed his press clippings and took too many gambles last fall, getting beat too often.
But Amerson is not a 50-50 player who either stars or falls. Becoming a solid NFL starter is simply about improving technique. That he's already talking about the film room shows a new maturity that will eventually make him the heir of DeAngelo Hall or Josh Wilson next season when at least one veteran free agent departs.
Reed is said to be a combination of Patriots tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Faster than Hernandez, big body like Gronkowski. In the third round, you sprint to make that selection.
The Redskins probably won't keep Fred Davis next season when he becomes a free agent for the third time. Chris Cooley is done, sitting on retirement. Logan Paulsen's a blocker. Niles Paul's conversion from receiver is still iffy.
That leaves Reed as Davis' successor. Good tight ends don't have to come early. Davis was picked by the Redskins in the second round in 2008. Cooley was a 2004 third-rounder who became the Redskins' best tight end ever. Stephen Alexander was a 1998 second-rounder who played nine years. Jamie Asher delivered four solid seasons as a 1995 fifth-rounder.
If Reed is anywhere near Hernandez/Gronkowski comparisons, the third-rounder is a steal. After just 25 starts, there seems to be plenty of upside remaining with Reed.
The Redskins didn't reach for a player. Didn't take a positional need over the best player on board. They were the smart picks. It just seems strange for the franchise to do so after a decade of draft-day idiocy by coach Mike Shanahan's predecessors. When coach Steve Spurrier couldn't discuss anything about a player beyond his height and weight while watching one selection from the press room.
The one knock on Shanahan when arriving in 2010 was a mixed record on personnel moves in Denver. It seems that's no longer a concern.