Washington Redskins: Looking at 25 years of draft history

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Robert Griffin III (R) from Baylor holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after Griffin was selected #2 overall by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Robert Griffin III (R) from Baylor holds up a jersey as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after Griffin was selected #2 overall by the Washington Redskins in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 26, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

The Washington Redskins, like all NFL teams, have a mixed bag of successes and failures in the NFL Draft over the past 25 years.

Adhering to the premise that those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it, we take a look at what the Washington Redskins have done with their last 25 years worth of first round draft picks.

Over the past quarter century (1994-2018) Washington has selected 21 players in the first round of the NFL draft. The team has picked dominant All- Pros, colossal busts, and everything in between.

A quick breakdown of how the Redskins have used the most cherished commodity in all of sports reveals a few surprises. Most notably, the ‘Skins have used almost 40 percent of their last 25 years’ worth of first round draft picks on quarterbacks and offensive linemen, (4 QBs and 4 OL).

Additionally, 15 percent of first round picks were spent selecting either outside linebackers, defensive linemen, and wide receivers, (three of each).

Finally, roughly 10 percent of those picks were used on cornerbacks, (2), or safeties (2).

Washington has not drafted a single tight end, running back, or inside linebacker in the first round over the past 25 years.

It is a stretch to draw any meaningful conclusions or make any correlations that would stand up to scientific scrutiny when looking at a body of work that transcends three different owners, seven different GMs, and eight different coaches. Still, there are certainly some interesting findings, even if they are nothing more than anomalies.

If we can draw any conclusions from 25 years of Washington’s 1st round draft picks it might be that the Redskins have struggled drafting quarterbacks and wide receivers but have fared pretty well at all other positions.

On a high note, the Redskins have done well drafting defensive backs. The two corners were Champ Bailey and Carlos Rogers. Bailey was a seven-time All Pro, went to 12 pro bowls and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. Rogers went to one Pro Bowl and was considered a solid corner throughout his career.

The safeties were Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry. Sean Taylor’s much too brief tenure with the Redskins (2004-2007) earned him two trips to the pro bowl in ’06 and ’07 and a 1st team All Pro selection in 2007. His tragic death later that year is still felt around the NFL.

Landry went to two Pro Bowls. His rookie year he was named to the All Rookie Defensive Team and was a Pro Bowl alternate. With Taylor regarded as the best safety in the game paired with the sensational rookie, Washington boasted the most feared safeties in the game.

Staying with defense, the Redskins have also done well drafting OLBs. Lavar Arrington in 2000, Brian Orakpo in 2009, and Ryan Kerrigan in 2011 were all picks that yielded Pro Bowl caliber players.

The other defensive first rounders were Kennard Lang, Jonathon Allen, and DaRon Payne. Lang never attained the status that we hope Allen and Payne will but he held his own. In five years with the ‘Skins he recorded 205 tackles, 21 sacks, forced nine fumbles and recovered six. These aren’t All Pro numbers but he was anything but a bust. No, the busts are reserved for the offensive side of the ball.

The Redskins have drafted four QBs over the past 25 years and Robert Griffin III was by the far the best of the bunch. Griffin’s rookie year saw him earn a trip to the Pro Bowl, garner Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and lead Washington to the playoffs. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his career and he is remembered more for the king’s ransom the team spent to draft him than for his spectacular rookie year.

Before that it was Jason Campbell taken with the 25th overall pick in 2005. Campbell had a middling career that ended with an 81.7 QB rating, second to Griffin’s 88.3.

In 2002 the Redskins drafted Patrick Ramsey with the last pick in the first round. Ramsey went on to play for nine teams in nine years before retiring with a career QBR of 74.9.

In 1994 the Redskins used the third overall pick to draft Heath Shuler out of Tennessee. Shuler was the runner up for the Heisman Trophy and came to Washington amid massive fanfare and sky high expectations. He is generally regarded as one of the biggest draft busts in Washington Redskin history.

In fact, ESPN voted him the 4th biggest bust in NFL history. His numbers make it hard to argue the point. In his three years with the team he threw for 3,691 yards, 15 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He finished his career with a 54.3 QBR.

The Redskins have not had much better luck when’s drafting WRs. Over the last quarter century they have selected Michael Westbrook in 1995, Rod Gardner in 2001, and Josh Doctson in 2016.

Westbrook was hugely disappointing averaging 39 receptions, 600 yards and 3 TDs a season over the course of his seven years with the team. Considering he came as a 4th overall pick he definitely qualifies as one of the biggest disappointments in franchise history. Why he was kept around for seven years still baffles me.

Westbrook’s numbers mirror, almost identically, those of Josh Doctson. Doctson missed his rookie year because of injuries. Over the past two years he has averaged 40 receptions, 550 yards and 4 TDs a season. If he can’t find a way to double his production this year he will likely be released and assume his position alongside Westbrook and Gardner as first round busts.

Gardner, drafted in 2001 with the 15th overall pick, lasted four years with the team before being traded to the Panthers for a 6th round pick. He averaged 750 yards and 5.5 TDs a season while with the team. While this puts him way out in front of Doctson and Westbrook it’s not what your hoping for when drafting a WR in the 1st round.

Lastly, we look at the offensive linemen picked in the first round since 1994. Andre Johnson was drafted with the 30th pick in the 1996 draft and is often considered the biggest bust in NFL history. He never played a game for Washington. The Redskins released him after one year and he was picked up by the Dolphins. He never played a game for the Dolphins either. The following year he played in three games for the Detroit Lions before being released and his career was over.

To say that the Redskins rebounded with regards to drafting O-Linemen is an understatement. Since the Andre Johnson fiasco Washington has invested three first round picks on the offensive line.

In 2000 the Redskins drafted Chris Samuels with the 3rd overall pick. Samuels spent his entire career with the ‘Skins going to six Pro Bowls. Then, in 2010, they picked Trent Williams with the 4th overall pick. Trent has been to the Pro Bowl 7 times, so far. And in 2015, they brought in Brandon Scherff with the 5th overall pick. He has already been to two Pro Bowls.

So, if history is a good teacher it would appear that in this case she has taught us absolutely nothing. Although, she might be suggesting that we avoid drafting a QB or a WR. Or, she might give us a wink and whisper, “O-Lineman.” Then again, she might point out that the team’s recent history demonstrates a much stronger track record when drafting on the defensive side of the ball as opposed to the offensive side of the ball.

Maybe it’s time to try something different and draft a tight end (Hockenson) or an inside linebacker, (One of the Devins). Frankly, this team has so many needs and there are so many players rated as first round talents it would be hard to make a pick that didn’t provide some immediate help.

For my money, picking a WR in the 1st round is a crap shoot. I’d steer clear of that position. An offensive lineman would be a safe pick, and fill a need. The quarterbacks have had fans and analysts at each other’s throats. I like Daniel Jones better than any of them but I’m clearly in the minority. Still, taking any one of the QBs could not be criticized too much. Of course, there look to be an edge rusher or two that would have a lot of fans cheering.

Next. 2019 NFL Draft scouting reports. dark

Regardless, the success of this draft will ultimately be tied to the day two and day three picks more so than the sole player selected in round one. But, it sure would be nice to grab a first rounder that went to a bunch of Pro Bowls as opposed to another dud.