Apr 23, 2005, 10:15 PM EDT
To start out with, I have to state that it’s been my firm belief ever since I knew what an NFL draft was that it takes at least three years, probably four, to judge a draft. You have to see how the players who were selected actually play on the field for an extended period of time before you can say if the player’s performance justified the pick.
Even in the days where the analysts weren’t so plentiful and so instant, everyone ink-stained wretch out there still had to come up with an immediate judgment on what had just been concluded. These days, with so many out there calling themselves draft experts and with an ability to offer an opinion for all the world to see within seconds of a pick being made, it’s gotten truly out of hand.
That being said, there is a legitimate case that can be made for analyzing what a team was thinking about when it made a given pick, what they might do with a particular player drafted and what effect it might have on the players currently on the team. Those aspects are in the here and now.
In this draft, the Redskins shattered two myths about the team, although this will certainly not make the mainstream media change their template they have used for the past five years in their coverage of the team. First, they did not go for the big splash or the flashy player. Certainly, a move up to nab Braylon Edwards would have been a headline-maker. They passed on that move. Mike Williams would have been the sexier pick at #9, but they weren’t swayed from their convictions and took Carlos Rogers. The cornerback didn’t have as much spectacular footage as did Williams, but isn’t the whole idea of being a great cover corner to stay out of highlight films?
Second, despite what was said in this space a few days ago, they are not necessarily gunning to win now at the expense of the future. Jason Campbell may or may not become a stud NFL quarterback, but if he does it will likely be after Joe Gibbs is back in NASCAR. He made what he thought was the best choice for the future of the franchise.
There is only one legitimate argument against the selection of Rogers and that’s the presence of Williams on the board. The former USC receiver would have been a good compliment to the team’s current corps of receivers, which lacks a red-zone go-to move-the-chains kind of receiver. Apparently, Gibbs (who to repeat is the decision-maker here) believed that the hole at corner was more critical than the lack of a big receiver.
There’s a lot more room for discussion about the selection of Campbell. After a few hours of trying to digest it, I just can’t figure it out. Ramsey is a good QB prospect, perhaps a very good one, they type of signal caller that Gibbs has built into Super Bowl quarterbacks. The Skins spent a first-round pick on him three years ago. Why not make him your main guy and then take your project QB later in the draft?
It’s hard to see how Gibbs is going to spin this to Ramsey, who he says is his starter at QB. It wasn’t as though they were just sitting there at #25, minding their own business when Campbell, who they had rated as the best QB in the draft, just fell into their laps. It’s obvious that the Skins wanted Campbell enough to make the deal with Denver to get a pick where he’d almost certainly be available. And certainly you can say that it takes a quarterback a couple of years before he will be ready to start in the NFL, but that would put Campbell as being ready right in the middle of what should be Ramsey’s prime. Sure, you need two QB’s in today’s NFL, but two first-rounders?
To his credit, Ramsey came out a couple of days ago and said that it didn’t matter to him if the Skins drafted a quarterback, that he just wanted the team to do what it thought was best. In retrospect, all but the most thick-headed among us (including yours truly) probably took this as a signal that the Redskins were indeed going to take Campbell as they probably wouldn’t have let Ramsey say something like this unless it was pretty certain that this would happen.
Big Media didn’t have a very good handle on this in the past few days. Many, including the Washington Post, drank the Braylon Edwards Kool-Aid, in fact they gulped it down with great glee. Such a move would not leave them with the means to take Campbell so all but ESPN, who seemed to be circling the wagons around its writer Len Pasquerelli since he broke the story that Gibbs had visited Campbell last week, had abandoned that line for the most part.
This space had a good take on the #9, saying that Rogers would be the pick albeit with some serious qualifiers about the possibility of taking Williams if he was on the board or trading down. Again, Campbell at #25 was not on the radar screen here at all, thinking that it was either a smoke screen or just the prudent exploration of very outside possibilities.