At the beginning of the offseason when we started the big draft section, we fully anticipated having a full page dedicated to our beloved Redskins. We were going to profile prospective first round picks, address individual team needs and things like that. We never could have predicted the whirlwind free agency period that has resulted in the Redskins having (possibly) only three selections. Let's look at how the Redskins got to this point.
Washington started the offseason with the following 7 picks:
The Redskins had no 5th round selection in 2003 as it was traded to the Lions in 2002 for offensive line bust Brendan Stai. The second 7th round pick was received by Washington in exchange for Sage Rosenfels in the 2002 deal with the Dolphins. Of all of these selections, only a 2nd, 3rd and 7th round pick still belong to the Redskins..
The Redskins defied convention this offseason and concentrated on restricted free agents (RFAs) as well as the always sought after unrestricted free agents (UFAs). Their first round pick went to the New York Jets as compensation for RFA Lavernaues Coles. The Jets couldn't match the monstrous $13 million signing bonus that the Redskins offered Coles and the Redskins had their speed receiver for the Fun 'N Gun.
Washington's 6th round pick was also lost due to compensation for a RFA - Matt Bowen from the Packers.
The Redskins also lost a 5th round pick in the now infamous Chad Morton arbitration hearing. If you're thinking... but the Redskins didn't have a 5th round pick in 2003... you're correct. So the Redskins had to scramble and pull off a trade with the New England Patriots that saw Washington's 5th round pick in the 2004 draft go to the Pats in exchange for a 2003 5th rounder. The Redskins also switched third round picks with New England in 2003, dropping the Redskins selection from 11th (75th overall) to 22nd (86th overall). As the 2nd best kick returner in the AFC last season Morton is stunning value for a 5th round pick and stands as perhaps both the biggest coups in the offseason as well as the biggest 'steal'.
The 4th round pick is also gone. It went to the St. Louis Rams with OG David (don't call me Laverne) Loverne in exchange for RB Trung Canidate on the very first day of free agency.
And finally, when going to press, the Redskins were waiting to see if the Dolphins matched the Skins offer to DT Jermaine Haley. If the Fins match, then the Redskins have four picks in the draft as they will not have to surrender their 7th round 214th overall pick. If they do not match, then the Redskins will be left with just 3 picks... 2nd round - 44th overall pick, 3rd round - 86th overall pick) and 7th round - 208th overall pick).
The rumor mill has the Redskins presently shopping Fred Smoot in hopes of landing another early pick, but team officials deny the reports (don't they always) and seem more content on trading one of their early existing picks in order to gain a bigger winfall of prospects. Trading Smoot from a football standpoint seems silly, while he has categorically proven that he is no Champ Bailey, the Redskins would inevitably end up drafting another CB just to fill the roster spot. Rashad Bauman showed signs of promise last year but he has yet to show himself worthy of a starting position. The retirement of Darrell Green leaves the Redskins fairly shallow on the depth chart in terms of secondary. The buzz around Washington seems to be that the problem with Smoot is his mouth, not his play. It has also been alluded to that perhaps Smoot was one of the players Steve Spurrier was referring to when he stated that it seems that "losing doesn't bother some players as much as the others."
Kenny Watson and David Terrell have also been mentioned as possible trade bait. Marty Schottenheimer and the Chargers had shown interest in Terrell before the free agency period closed last Friday.
So what do we do with the three picks? Having already addressed the offensive line, RB, backup QB, kicker, safety, kick returner, and having picked up a few defensive linemen as well, there aren't many needs left to fill. Concensus seems to be that Washington wants to add a safety, another QB, a kicker and/or perhaps a CB. If Washington fails to pluck Haley from the Dolphins, you can probably add DT to the list of needs as well.
Frankly, ending all talks of trading an early pick and concentrating on picking up good value at our respective 44th and 86th selections seems prudent at this point. We recommend that the Redskins' war room give some serious thought to drafting a DT irregardless of what happens with Haley. Defensive tackles are the class of the draft, and there will still be a top 10 prospect available come the Redskins 2nd round choice. While the sexy DT's like Jimmy Kennedy and Dewayne Robertson will inevitably be gone, there may still be talented players like Ty Warren available. The additions of Haley and (perhaps) Michael Myers lessen the need at DT but both players are more suitable backups than starters.
It is a strong posibility that one of the top safeties in the country will still be available at the #44 position as typically safeties are glanced over in round 1. If Mike Doss is still available, he will likely be the 2nd round pick. Doss was a stalwart for Ohio State and the Buckeyes also had the nation's best defense. USC's Troy Polamula is also an interesting safety prospect. At 5'10" 210 lbs, he is not a prototypical sized strong safety but he hits like one; however, running a 4.40 forty and still being able to bench 600 pounds is prototypical. He is widely regarded as the best Trojan safety since Ronnie Lott. His finesse and agression would make a nice compliment to the speed that the Redskins already have in the secondary with Champ Bailey, Fred Smoot and Matt Bowen. If safety is not addressed in the 2nd, then it likely will be addressed in the third. One of the 'lesser' prospects like Todd Johnson or Ken Hamlin could easily step in and provide back up at safety if not earn the starting job from incumbents Ifeanyi Ohalete, Andre Lott or David Terrell.
When it comes to the 7th round... you just select your highest rated player. The Skins will likely be looking at a punter or a QB. Local talent Brooks Barnard is a viable candidate at punter. He played his college ball at Maryland and looked good when the Redskins conducted their 'local' pro day. The problem with trying to peg a 7th rounder is that if the team thinks for one second that the player could slide another 20 or 30 spots, then he will be skipped and picked up as a free agent rather than waste a draft pick. That particular scenario lends itself to a punter moreso than a QB. Spurrier himself has stated that he would like to have 4 QB's at training camp and with only two of those slots filled, Washington will inevitably look to fill one of them with a 7th round flyer pick. The NFL expanded a team's practice squad to 5 players PLUS a QB last year, so it makes sense to have a 'project' on the squad. Danny Wuerffel could end up filling that extra slot and subsequently assuming the role of 3rd QB and mentor. He knows the system nearly as well as Spurrier and would make an excellent choice.
So as you head into the draft weekend, don't despair over the lack of picks that the Redskins have. If you think for one second that we could guarantee a starting safety like Bowen, a primary receiver like Coles, a premiere kick returner like Chad Morton and a RB like Trung Canidate, then I submit that you are indeed an optimist. If the Redskins can fill holes with the three picks that they have, and add that to the hopeful strong return of 2002 draftees Cliff Russell and Robert Royal, we will still have a bumper crop of talent at training camp. Combine that new young talent with all of the free agent signings, and the 2003 Redskins will have a definite fresh new look that corrollates much more accordingly with Coach Spurrier's style.
2002 may have been Spurrier's first year in Washington... but 2003 will be his first season in Washington with the tools that he needs to implememt his system.
Regardless of what happens at the draft... it should be an exciting upcoming season.