With the 51st selection, the Washington Redskins take ... South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger.
Hey, everybody picked the Redskins taking quarterback Robert Griffin with the second overall pick last year and offensive tackle Trent Williams with the fourth choice in 2010. Indeed, quite a few Redskins first-rounders over the past two decades weren't hard to spot.
But with no first-round pick and several needs, the Redskins could go safety, cornerback, offensive tackle, tight end, pretty much everything but quarterback with their opening pick.
Swearinger is the one if he's still on the board. (Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien would be the pick, but he's probably long gone by the time the Redskins are up.) New England and Baltimore also reportedly want Swearinger, but neither picks again until after Washington. Certainly either could trade ahead of the Redskins to take Swearinger but is he really worth the cost of moving up?
Coach Mike Shanahan could look for the best player on the board and go another way, but it's unlikely there's anyone better than Swearinger at this point. He can play both free and strong safety, though Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett says the team doesn't designate that way. Whatever.
The Redskins need a safety who can bang. Who intimidates. Who can fly all over the field. Old Redskins coach Steve Spurrier, now coaching at South Carolina, can finally improve his tarnished legacy in Washington by sending a playmaker.
Swearinger could be a linebacker in some schemes or a third corner. He likes to hit, just like LaRon Landry and Sean Taylor. That makes such a big difference by giving receivers something to think about when they see Swearinger in the corner of their eye as they try to catch a ball.
And confidence? Swearinger is remindful of Deion Sanders' swagger. Swearinger says he's the best safety in the draft even if draftniks think he's fourth best. That throwing towards him costs six points. If Swearinger can back up those boasts like Sanders, the Gamecocks safety is a steal in the second round.
The downside is Swearinger only ran a 4.67 at the NFL combine and has been known to miss tackles when going for the big hit. (Boy does that sound familiar in Washington.) But the speed isn't enough of a negative to pass on him. Not when leadership, too often lacking in the pros, is one of Swearinger's talents.
What happens if Swearinger's gone come the Redskins pick? Washington still uses the best-player-available strategy. That could be Oregon right tackle Kyle Long, the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long and brother of St. Louis defensive end Chris Long. His long arms and quick feet would let him fill the position for years.
Either pick would be fine, but the Redskins might benefit a little more with Swearinger. Now they just have to wait for 50 shades of selections to get him.