5 lessons the Commanders should learn from recent first-round draft blunders

Lessons must be taken...

Dwayne Haskins
Dwayne Haskins / Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA
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Commanders must take the right guy

This is the most basic lesson of all, right?

It comes down to one simple task. Do a better job scouting prospects. Every team can say this. But in 2001, the now-Washington Commanders made an especially big mistake.

They took Rod Gardner with the No. 15 pick. Never mind the fact that more than half a dozen perennial Pro Bowlers were scooped up later in the rounds. Just concentrate on the wide receivers that went in the next 24 selections. These included Santana Moss, Reggie Wayne, and Chad Johnson.

Sometimes statistics need context. Sometimes, they don’t.

The three receivers Washington passed on combined for more than 2,500 catches, 35,000 yards, and 200 touchdowns during their careers. Gardner, nicknamed “50-50” by Bruce Smith during his rookie season because of his penchant for catching every other ball thrown his way, ended his career with 242 catches for 3,165 yards and 23 scores.

Fortunately for Washington, Moss would do the bulk of his damage after being acquired by Joe Gibbs in a trade a few years later. But the best thing they had to show for the Gardner blunder was reliable defensive lineman Kendric Golston - drafted with the sixth-round pick they received after finally giving up on the pass-catcher following four underwhelming seasons in DC.