This offseason has created the greatest stir in Franchise history, to say the least. With Joe Gibbs’ return, even the President was talking about the Skins. The questions abound: What will the Field Marshal do with what he has available? How did he grade our current roster out? What is going to happen with Ramsey with Brunell coming aboard? What is going to happen to Champ Bailey? Who will we choose with the draft picks at hand and what will we do if we find ourselves with more picks due to Champ’s potential trade? What free agents will we go shopping for in the marketplace this year, and will we see more roster raiding, especially if Champ brings in 2 or 3 picks?
One of the biggest question remains the hottest: Who will we take in the draft? If the question is approached from the most pragmatic sense, one would question how many holes can the Skins plug with free agency. There are a plethora of good players in several positions: RB, DT, CB. There are also some good tight ends and defensive ends, but the question begs itself – can the Skins afford all of the free agents we fans seem to be drooling over? With the pending trade of Bailey, we as fans need to keep in mind that the rookie pool we must set aside depends on the picks we have. If we end up with the 5th and 6th pick in the draft, we have less money for free agency. The upside, of course, is we have to spend less on unproven rookies.
The immediate needs are clear: DT, DE, TE, and CB – for depth if Bailey remains, to replace him if he is gone. What we can expect to get from the draft is unclear. Some of the players that fans are bringing up would be great if they were the most immediate needs. Safety Sean Taylor stirs the heart in many fans bodies, and while he is a paramount athlete, does he fit in where the Skins need him? Looked at logically, once again there remain questions. Can Ohalete and Bowen perform better with a better defensive coordinator, one who provides run support with the positions that are normally run support? Will Gregg Williams be able to allow the safeties to do their primary job – guarding slot receivers, backs and tight ends coming out on pass patterns? Last year, with no defensive line help and the linebackers sitting back and playing passively, the safeties and corners were abused. While it does seem logical to draft the best athlete available, if Taylor is available, it doesn’t address where the Skins were hurt the most.
There are several monster DTs available in the draft, but most do not fit the top 5 draft pick mold. There are good DEs available in the draft, but they too don’t seem to be worthy of the top 5 picks. No CB even comes close to the top 5 realm when looked at closely, leaving the TE position as a possible. While Winslow looks tantalizing, there are very good tight ends available later in the draft who might not be a Tony Gonzalez – they might only be a Mark Bavaro. Remember, Bavaro was more in the Gibbs mold, than a pure receiver type of TE.
One of the things to keep in mind is that Gibbs was from the era of Bobby Beathard, the trade guru. The Skins did not often find themselves with first round picks. Beathard was not shy about bringing in proven talent for draft picks, and the fact that Cerrato made the same move last year, brought some of us a wave of nostalgia. In fact, remembering back to the last Super Bowl the Skins won, people don’t seem to remember that Casserly was more active than a one armed paper hanger in plan B free agency – the precursor to the parity and problem child of the salary cap era. The Skins brought in a number of players who helped us win that trophy, and were subsequently cut due to the salary cap the following year.
While some fans don’t agree, instead of going after that one marquis player with the 5th (and possibly 6th) pick, it is not totally inconceivable to see the Skins drop several spots for each one of the first round picks they have, to garner further picks later in the draft. While a couple of the players the Skins will see as marquis types (a la Winslow and Taylor) will slip away, a 10th and 15th or 20th pick will be able to ensure a core team player in both positions that can help fulfill a roster need without the top 5 contract hit to the salary cap. If the Skins have both the 5th and the 6th pick, it could very well end up netting them not only two lower first round picks, but 4-5 2nd, 3rd or 4th round picks for stepping down 5-10 spots per pick.
With Brunell coming aboard, we can be sure that the helm will be in good hands no matter who wins the competition. Ramsey and Brunell will both be better for working with each other, and the team as a whole will improve.
There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind, especially a Skins fan, we are all sitting on the edge of our seats for the next couple of weeks.