Arts & Entertainment, Sports

Picking Splinters: Sensing Draft Doom

If I were a die hard Redskins fan, I think I would be very concerned with what owner Dan Snyder, head coach Joe Gibbs and the Redskins front office are planning for the No. 6 overall pick on Saturday. The way they were talking in Tuesday’s press conference seemed to indicate that anything could be a possibility. That should scare a lot of Hog Heads out there because frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if Washington used the pick on an assistant head coach in charge of post game meal carts and afternoon concertos. Any and all possibilities usually end up spelling trouble for the Redskins. Just looking back at the past three years of draft maneuvering will tell you that.

The Skins traded three picks in 2006 (Nos. 53, 189 that year and this year’s second rounder) to grab linebacker Rocky McIntosh. They also shipped a third round pick in ’06 and a fourth round pick in 2007 to San Francisco to sign receiver Brandon Lloyd to a gargantuan contract extension. The year before, they shelled out three picks (a 2005 third rounder, and a first and fourth round pick in 2006) to select Jason Campbell. For those scoring at home, that’s eight players traded away in return for a starting quarterback, a third-string receiver with 365 yards and no touchdowns in 2006 and a linebacker who made 28 tackles last season and struggled to crack the lineup in an epically bad Redskins defense.

I’ll even do them the favor of leaving out the 2004 trade that sent the best cornerback in the NFL (Champ Bailey) and a second round pick in 2004 to the Broncos for Clinton Portis because you have to love Portis’s press conference personas, even though last year’s performance by Ladell Betts pretty much proved Portis is replaceable.

I don’t pretend to have any unique insight into the offseason decision-making process that Snyder, Gibbs and the other personnel decision makers employ. If I had to guess, however, I would imagine it involves a printout of Google search results for the term “overrated,” a handful of darts, 9.6 revolutions in an office chair and an intern with multiple puncture wounds.

When it comes to managing personnel over the past two seasons, Gibbs, Snyder, Xenu or whoever making is making decisions over at Redskins Park has appeared as erratic as Kim Jong Il after a two-year diet of lead paint and a bad acid trip. Perhaps that’s why fans of the team are more curious than excited about this year’s draft — they’re just as intrigued as I am to see how the Skins are going to screw this opportunity up.

It’s rare that a team touted as a Super Bowl contender one year earlier gets the chance to pick up a top ten talent the next. That’s why, if Washington fashions itself as a contender in the NFC East or for the Super Bowl, it’s important they don’t muck this up.

Of course, that’s exactly what Washington appears poised to do.

Tuesday’s Washington Post featured a report saying the Redskins were zeroing in on Louisiana State University safety Laron Landry. Scouts all seem to agree that Landry is a freak athlete and will likely leave his mark on the NFL, but in a draft where the Redskins only have one pick between rounds one and five, this makes no sense. Why in the world would you draft a safety in the Sean Taylor mold if you already HAVE Sean Taylor?

Washington finished last season ranked 27th in the league against the run and with a franchise-worst 19 sacks. With stats like that, Oedipus can see the Skins need to boost their defensive line. Of course, they also need help at corner, where injuries plagued them last season, and on the offensive line, where no one is getting any younger.

Here comes a second blessing for Redskins fans: This draft is rather deep with regard to defensive linemen. So the course of action seems fairly clear. Trade down in the first round for more picks in this year’s draft and take Amobi Okoye from Louisville or Adam Carriker of Nebraska or Michigan’s Alan Branch. They’re all first-round talents that can probably be had lower than the six spot. Then spend the added picks to provide some depth at corner or on the offensive line. If you can’t trade down, at least use the one pick on a weak position and not one where there’s already a Pro-Bowl caliber player.

This isn’t sage advice here. I’m not pretending to be Mel Kiper. This is just common sense … which is precisely why the Skins are more likely to draft Landry or trade away still more picks to get into the top five. Buckle up Redskins fans. This is going to get interesting.