Previously appearing on WTOP.COM…
I’ll say one thing about Scot McCloughan; the Redskins General Manager has actually helped turn draft day into something to look forward to in this area. One of the major reasons behind the Redskins run of eight last place finishes from 2004-2014 was its inability to stockpile talent through the draft…thanks to trading many of their picks before doing “creative things” like selecting three receivers in the second round when the crying need was for offensive line depth. You could say this approach began when Bruce Allen took over in 2010 and brought in coach Mike Shanahan; the team had ten selections in the top 105 picks from 2005-09 (last four years of Vinny Cerrato’s regime) while boasting 17 such selections in the last five years.
Why the top 105? Because while it’s nice to talk about all of your picks…once you get past the top 100…the likelihood said player sticks with your team decreases dramatically. For every Alfred Morris (major hit at 173), there’s a Dennis Morris (174) who doesn’t play a regular season down in the league. I originally used 100 as the trip-line, but under the Allen administration there have been a slew of picks 102-106 that make more sense when grouped in the top 100. At that point everybody’s board varies so much these were kids that the Skins’ brain trust had as top 100 guys.
Successful drafts can be somewhat subjective; in theory bad teams will see more of their picks make the roster that year because, well…they’re a bad team. Also, a new GM’s players are more likely to make the team just like a new coach’s draftees will get more of a chance to stick than a previous coach or personnel guy’s people. That’s why the headline “the top seven 2015 draftees made the roster” deserves an “exactly”…just like “the top five players picked in Jay Gruden’s first draft made the team” merits the necessary shrug.
Since 2010 there have been three drafting combinations: Bruce Allen/Mike Shanahan from 2010-13, Allen/Jay Gruden in 2014 and Scot McGloughan/Gruden last year. How did each fare? Time for the avidly awaited year-by-year rundown…a lot less depressing than the Cerrato stumbles.
2010- six picks with two in the top 105. Trent Williams and Perry Riley became starters with Williams reaching four Pro Bowls. But from their other picks, only Terrence Austin would play more than 3 games in the NFL. And this was a last place team. Still, it’s tough to expect much from a seventh round selection and the Skins had three that year. Funfact: the Skins were rumored to be trading up with St. Louis so they could get the #1 overall pick and quarterback Ryan Reynolds Sam Bradford but held at #4 to select a lineman. Why anyone would send multiple picks to the Rams for a QB when roster depth was a major concern remains beyond me.
2011- twelve selections with four in the top 105. And only four seventh rounders! Seventh rounders are the ultimate scratch ticket–it’s nice when one gets you $20 but stockpiling them is no way to secure a solid retirement. Ryan Kerrigan (5 seasons a starter with one Pro Bowl), Jarvis Jenkins (3 years a starter before his departure) and Maurice Hurt (9 games started before injuries derailed a nice story) lead the class, while non-starters like Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Leonard Hankerson and DeJon Gomes each contributed during their time in Ashburn. Funfact: Maurice Hurt’s given name is “Sparrow Maurice Hurt, Jr.”…in case you were curious.
2012- nine selections with three in the top 105. It’s tough to look at this draft and not get sucked into a seven-hour conversation about Robert Griffin III: from what went wrong to the proper price for a franchise QB to which Subway sandwich is the best (my money remains on the Italian BMT with pepper jack cheese, chipotle dressing, lettuce, banana peppers and olives). Away from the glare of the comet that began with a bang before ending with 16 inactives, the Skins got talent early and often this year. Kirk Cousins is the quarterback of the future (or until the Skins refuse to give him a long-term deal and he walks) and Josh LeRibeus made 11 starts last season. Keenan Robinson and Tom Compton were also starters during stretches of their time in burgundy and gold. Funfact: Sun Chips Garden Salsa is the the proper pairing for the BMT.
2013- seven selections with two in the top 105. The first rounder went to the Rams and just like Vinny Cerrato made the 2008 second his “receiver round”, this one will go down as the “defensive back draft” for Allen & Shanahan. Problem was-David Amerson, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo had even less time with the Skins than the infamous triumvirate of Devin Thomas, Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly. A pair of offensive players who each have had their injury issues remain on the roster: Jordan Reed is a game-changing matchup nightmare beyond everybody’s expectations while Chris Thompson is a decent change of pace runningback. Funfact: the Draft stretching to 3 days…with the first round on Thursday really makes life tough when your team has dealt their top selection.
2014- eight selections with four in the top 105. The first Jay Gruden draft brought an infusion of offensive line help (Morgan Moses and Spencer Long) as well as eventual defensive starters (Trent Murphy and Bashaud Breeland) with a fifth rounder (Ryan Grant) who’s played in every game over the last two years. Is there a star in this bunch? Not likely. But you need a 53-man roster filled with glue-guys and special teamers. This class appears to be a solid part of the foundation. Funfact: drafting kicker Zach Hocker in the seventh round with Kai Forbath still on the roster gave training camp the ultimate competition between “Saved by the Bell” and “Karate Kid” fans. NO MERCY!
2015- ten selections with four in the top 105. Scot McCloughan’s first draft (although he only had four months to prepare with a roster he was getting to know on the fly) yielded one starter in first rounder Brandon Scherff while delivering impact players in Preston Smith (8 sacks as a rookie), Matt Jones (if he stops fumbling this is the running game’s meal ticket) and Jamison Crowder (59 catches and a special teams presence). It’s only one year, but the quality of last year’s draft already exceeds the 2011 & 2013 hauls from a roster-building standpoint. The promising career of Kyshoen Jarrett (16 games played, one interception) may be hampered by nerve damage in his shoulder…while Arie Kouandji and Martell Spaight just seem like the kind of guys who stick on a roster for a year or two, maybe play special teams and then the next April you’re wondering where they went. Funfact: for the first time since Bruce Allen came on board, the number of seventh round picks did not exceed the first rounders.
Verdicts for those scoring at home: a decidedly mixed bag. You could say that 2010 brought minimal depth, but if you’re going to get Williams and Riley’s longterm impact you’re more than okay with the late round misses. Many of the 2011 draftees turned out to be the middle of the roster guys who depart with a coaching change…and one can’t dismiss the player on the field and in the locker room Kerrigan has become. The enigma that is 2012 could turn from boom to bust to boom if Cousins builds on his breakout season…while 2013’s failure may be somewhat salvaged if Reed remains healthy and productive. The jury remains out on the last two years, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. When Bruce Allen took over this team in 2009, they were easily the most mismanaged in the NFC East. Since then, Draft Day have been more encouraging than infuriating.