Editor’s note: The following article comes from Bradley Kirkland whom was recently added to our staff. Bradley (as you’ll soon discover) is a Washington Redskins fan, which should balance out my Giants-loving-self. Please welcome Bradley aboard.
Let me start this blog by saying I am one of those people who believes there are more ways to do things than ‘the right way’, or the way someone else is doing it. What worked for the 49ers this year – a new coach in Harbaugh who stuck with Alex Smith, rode the defense and motivated his young and extremely talented team with energy and passion – wouldn’t necessarily work for the Redskins. Or any other team, for that matter.
So, in previewing the upcoming draft and the 2012 free agency class, my opinions are based on what I think will be best for the Redskins specifically, given who we have as coaches, the owner and the kind of players we already have. In doing so, I’ve come to the conclusion that my Washington Redskins, for the first time in many (long, stressful, painful) years, are set up to take some major steps this year.
Obviously, you are now saying, “Give us specifics!” Okay, I will …
Let’s begin by quickly reviewing the last two drafts, where we’ve arguably seen 50% of our draft picks become strong contributors to the team. In 2010 we only had six picks. Out of those six, three have stood out the last two years: Trent Williams, Perry Riley and Terrence Austin. Admittedly, Austin had a better year in his first year, but his talent didn’t just evaporate in 2011. We all know about Trent’s penchant for – ahem – maryjane, but that doesn’t detract from his performance in 2011. Lastly, Riley is becoming quite the linebacker, opposite London Fletcher. I really want to throw Logan Paulsen into this mix because I like him, but I think the jury is still out on him.
In 2011 we had double the draft picks (12), the first time we have had a pick in every round in 15 years. And again were able to see production from nearly half of them … in year one! Truck Nield started out strong against the Giants, regressed a little, but overall had a good year. Roy Helu’s contribution was obvious, right? Evan Royster came on towards the end of the year and proved he can make a difference. Dejon Gomes, I thought, played well enough to take safety off our ‘must needs’ list, and Leonard Hankerson was about to blow up before he was injured. Ryan Kerrigan is a terrific young player who will continue to get better each year with the potential to be a dominant OLB in another year or so. And what about Jarvis Jenkins? He showed amazing promise in the pre-season, and I think he’ll easily bring the contribution tally up to six from last year’s draft.
Think about it … any investor, in any industry, would love to have a 50% return on their investment! Shanahan and Allen are doing a fantastic job with our draft picks.
But that’s not the only place we’re finding quality talent. We picked up some very quality guys in free agency. Admittedly, Gaffney and Stallworth aren’t necessarily true #1 receivers in this league, but both were in top 5 in receptions, yards and touchdowns for the Skins. Josh Wilson improved all year in this defense, I thought, as did Oshiomogho Atogwe while battling injuries. I thought Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield were both strong additions to our defensive line.
Compared to other years this was probably the best group of free agents we’ve ever picked up! That is very promising as well. So we’re seeing quality free agents and solid draft choices, giving us a great balance of younger players and steady veterans.
All of which brings us to 2012, and the question that trumps all questions: Do we try and get a QB in free agency, one later in the draft, or do we trade up to get Robert Griffin III? Frankly, I think we can be successful by going in any number of directions, depending on how things play out. Personally, however, I’d like to see us trade up and get RG3. Even if we give up another 1st, perhaps a 2nd and maybe one other draft pick, we still have plenty of picks in 2012 and promising free agents who are out there. I do not believe drafting RG3 and getting other essential picks and/or free agents are mutually exclusive, and the argument that we’d be ‘mortgaging our future’ is specious.
Again, there are many ways to skin a cat. I think, no matter which direction, Shanahan and Allen have proven they know what they are doing. The Redskins – and their fans! – are in a good place right now, and the future is bright.
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