As usual life intervened a bit on my draft thoughts. Apparently Guy also has no draft thoughts worth posting. So he left it to me to talk about the players. Before we talk about the details, let’s give Vinny Cerato, Dan Snyder, and Jim Zorn a round of applause for recognizing not only the value of the draft, but also the value of stockpiling as many picks as possible without giving up value.
This draft looked like a classic Bobby Bethard draft. For those who don’t remember, Bethard was the architect of the 80’s Redskins dynasty and was the master of moving back in the draft and often eschewed 1st round picks for the chance to take more and equally good players later in the draft. It should be noted that there is a major change between now and then. This was in the pre-salary cap era where you could stash young players on giant rosters for years as they developed, and the draft went significantly more rounds. This meant that you could own diamonds in the rough until you spiffed them up. Today, a bigger premium is placed on finding players that can contribute somewhere, especially on special teams, right away. Keep that in mind when looking at the later draft picks.
Devin Thomas- To be honest, I know less about Devin Thomas than most of the other receivers at the top of the draft. Because he played only one year of Division I football and because he was a junior (and couldn’t participate in the Senior Bowl and other all-star games), he wasn’t on the radar of most experts until later in the process. But many of them had him listed as the top receiver in the draft. I’m no fan of the Big Ten and he is probably one of the few players considered for the first round that I didn’t see play at least twice. Thomas is supposedly the perfect fit for our system. Yards after the catch are his specialty. He’s pretty fast (4.4) and relatively tall (almost 6′ 2″) and he led the Big 10 in yards in his only year. The knock on him is his inexperience, and I actually expect Malcom Kelly to be ahead of Thomas in camp. But in two or three seasons, Thomas will be the star of this receiving corps, and I’m thrilled to have him. Avoid the rush. Buy your Thomas jersey now.
Fred Davis- I’ll admit it, when this pick was announced my response was unprintable. I didn’t understand why we needed a TE when we had Chris Cooley. But as Zorn discussed the prospect of sliding Cooley around the formations and using him at TE, WR, and FB, I got excited about the idea, particularly in the Red Zone. Imagine being on the 1 yard line with Davis and Cooley lined up as TEs, Sellers and Portis in the backfield and 6′ 4″ Malcolm Kelly split out wide. Are we going to hand off to Portis? Sellers? Are we going to fake the hand off and hit Sellers in the flat? Or is Cooley going to run the short out along the end line? Or will we throw the high fade to Kelly in the corner? The possibilities are endless. And if you don’t want the jumbo package in, we can split four receivers wide, spread the D out and then run it up the middle. Davis gives us the kind of formation flexibility only the best teams can take advantage of.
Malcolm Kelly- Personally, I wanted Limas Sweed. Sweed is almost as big but he has a better 40 time and played for a good program and a pro offense. Oklahoma’s offense still relies a bit more on the option attack than I’d prefer. But heck, I’m not a professional talent evaluator, and I’ll trust the Skins liked what they saw. Kelly has incredible hands and knows how to catch in traffic. He is the ideal security blanket for a young QB. If you are Jason Campbell and you know you are about to get hit, you can throw to Kelly and feel safe that he’s going to come down with the thing even if you don’t throw a perfect pass. The knock on Kelly is his lack of top end speed. His 40 numbers have been reported as high as 4.7 and as low as 4.5. While 2 tenths of a second seems miniscule, it is the difference between being Terrell Owens and Peter Warrick. For those who forget Peter Warrick, he was a Heisman winner that was about as exciting in college as any player. He was Reggie Bush before Reggis Bush except he was a receiver. Warrick dropped in the draft because of his 40 times, and many experts said it was a mistake, but he turned into a giant bust. He simply could not separate from NFL quality corners. If Kelly really is a 4.7 type receiver, then he is at best a decent possession target. That’s fine. We need one of those, too. The key is to not lay unrealistic expecations on him. The ceiling is probably Michael Westbrook or Rod Gardner without the stigma of being a first round bust. No one would have minded either one being a Redskin if we hadn’t blown top 10 picks on them.
Chad Rinehart- A division IIA All-American tackle, Rinehart projects as a guard at this level. He’s a project, but one Joe Bugel is known for. Being a IIA guy, I don’t know anything about him, but Scouts Inc says he has an explosive first step but has bad technique. He’s a tall guy who plays too high. Joe will get that out of him quickly. The great thing about this pick is that in the hands of the wrong coach, this is the kind of guy who has a short career. In the right hands, he can blossom into a star. Joe Bugel is the right hands. Interior o-line is one of our needs and Rinehart was an excellent pick in a draft short on interior line help.
Juston Tryon- I love Tryon. I’ve seen him play several times at Arizona St. and I think he’s a steal. People don’t like him because of size issues, but we’ve seen first hand in DC what a short corner with skills can do. When I watched Tryon, he was a tough tackler who wasn’t afraid of contact or press coverage even though he was a little small. He was a decent returner with good acceleration, but his top end speed was basically average. We’re never going to ask him to cover big receivers, but I think he’ll make an excellent dime CB and maybe better. He should be able to step in and play in the dime right now while Rogers is recovering.
Durant Brooks- What do you say about a punter? Brooks was the best punter in college last year and I like the idea of bringing in someone to challenge Frost. People generally don’t seem to like Frost but I can’t honestly see how he is noticeably worse than other punters. Brooks will hopefully be a nice addition though.
Kareem Moore- Another IIA prospect that I’ve never seen play. Moore is described as a playmaker and an excellent returner. Moore’s problem is size. At 5′ 10″ and 210, he may be too small to play safety in the NFL and too big to play CB.
Colt Brennan- I love this pick. This is the perfect no risk, high reward pick. Brennan holds practically every passing record that matters in Division I. Most people perceive this to be part of the system he was in, and that his arm is too weak for the NFL. Probably true. But the West Coast Offense can turn a weaker armed QB into a star. And he has established the fact that he can work in a system that is based on timing. If there is a place where Brennan can thrive it is here. Hopefully, we’ll never have to find out. I’m hoping Campbell will blossom into a Hall of Fame QB and never get hurt. But if not, Brennan looks like an excellent investment.
Rob Jackson- The key to Jackson having a career is whether he can add bulk without losing quickness. At 258, he’s too small to anchor against the run. It is possible he can carve out a career as a 3rd down pass rusher, but as of now, he looks like a practice team player at best.
Christopher Horton- I’ve seen Horton play a couple of times, and he’s a great hitter. He fills the box as the 8th man as well as most college safeties. But he gets burned on the long ball. He is the exact opposite of Kareem Moore. It is possible that the two could make an interesting tandem where Moore plays the passing downs and Horton plays the running downs. It is also possible neither of them achieve anything. Horton should be an excellent special teams addition and given how few safeties we have on the roster, there should be room for him.
That’s the haul, and I think it is a good one. We have to trust that Vinny and the boys knew what they were doing, and it sure looks like they did. With minicamp starting tomorrow, we’ll get a quick look at the kids and see. Come back tomorrow to see how we did. Also, in the next week or so I’ll be starting to review the whole league’s draft from the point of view of how it changes your fantasy draft. Stop in, get the scoop. Hail Skins!