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Redskins Turn To Lunch Pail Types on Day 2

Apr 25, 2005, 1:14 AM EDT

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Skins Take Lunch-Pail Players on Day 2

After spend a pair of first-round picks on players in glamour positions on Saturday and took a pair of linebackers and a pair of fullbacks on the second day.

Of the four picks—Robert McCune of Louisville (5th round) and Jared Newberry of Stanford (6th) are the linebackers and Manuel White of UCLA (4th) and The Citadel’s Nehemiah Broughton (7th) are the FB’s—McCune is by far the most interesting. He’s 26 and came to Louisville on a National Guard scholarship, not a football scholarship. Without checking, I’d have to guess that he’s the oldest player the Redskins have drafted since George Allen drafted Moses Denson, a CFL veteran, in 1973. McCune is a veteran too, but of tours of duty in Kuwait and Korea, not of a sports league.

Again with the caveat that it takes a few years to judge a draft, why draft these players? The last time I checked, Gibbs’ offense didn’t use a fullback and even with the departure of Antonio Pierce the field is rather crowded there.

The nose-in-the-dirt nature of all four of these players indicates that Joe Gibbs is furthering his efforts to improve the Redskins’ special teams. In the Scout.com reports of each player, a role on special teams is mentioned prominently.

That would be nothing new to McCune. As a non-scholarship player he earned his way onto the Louisville roster as a special teams guy. At 6-0 and a well-chiseled 245, McCune was hand timed at a 3.37 40 at the combines (his official time was 4.5). You look up “wedge buster” in the NFL glossary and there’s a picture of a guy like McCune there.

If you can tell that I like McCune despite never having seen him play save for a video clip here and there, you’re right. How can you not like a guy who has earned the nickname The Hammer. Not Hammer, not the Hammer, but The Hammer. If you think that this is a distinction without a difference, all I can say is that you’re wrong.

These selections didn’t cause nearly the consternation among the Redskins faithful as did the selection of Jason Campbell (although their “failure” to pick up local faves such as UVa’s Chris Canty and Elton Brown did). As the selection of Carlos Rogers, in my view, bordered on a no-brainer, the Campbell pick is the only one that warrants much further discussion.

The odd thing about this pick is that Campbell doesn’t even have to take a snap in order to be a good selection. Here’s a little story that might seem familiar: A young quarterback drafted in the overall early 30’s. In the early going he shows equal parts of promise and struggle and a veteran is brought in. When the vet can’t get it done, the team drafts a QB in the first round. And all of a sudden Drew Brees goes to the Pro Bowl. Without seeing any significant action, Philip Rivers plays a major role in the Chargers making the playoffs while Doug Flutie rides off into the sunset.

Patrick Ramsey is easy to root for. By all indications he’s a great guy, he says all the right things, he’s smart, he’s tough. But the cold, hard fact is that he still has yet to establish himself as an NFL quarterback. So does Joe Gibbs just work with him and wait and see if he develops? Or does he scare the hell out of him by spending a first, a third, and a fourth to draft his potential successor?

There’s one more important thing to remember. Ramsey was the selection of the previous administration, ie the one with Dan Snyder in charge. Quarterbacks are to head coaches as Secretaries of State are to the president—they serve at the boss’ pleasure. A new administration is not bound by the decisions of the previous one (although salary cap considerations, of course, are meaningless in the federal government).

  1. J_B - Apr 25, 2005 at 1:12 PM

    Given that it was a little over a year to the day yesterday that Patt Tillman died in Afghanistan defending our country, I think it was nice that the Redskins rolled the dice on a former GI in McCune.

    I remember not believing my eyes when I saw McCune getting weighed at the combine.

    And then I learned his story.

    While many Redskins fans may scoff at picking a 26yo LB, I love the pick.

    Hopefully he’s a Core Redskin for the rest of his career.

  2. ted - Apr 25, 2005 at 1:45 PM

    While the pick of Jason Campbell is questionable. Below is what Peter King (albeit someone who has misfired terribly in the past) said about Campbell after watching footager of Alex Smith, Rodgers, and Campbell.
    The entire article can be found at:
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/peter_king/04/11/mmqb.draft/2.html

    1. I think the 49ers have two options. They could do the safe thing — maybe the smart thing — and take Rodgers. Or they could step out on a limb and pick an excellent receiver (Edwards) or really good back (Brown) with the first pick, and follow at the top of the second round by choosing underrated Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell, who will be one of the real gift picks of this draft when someone nabs him in round two.

    Next I watched Campbell. My first question was: Where’s this guy been hiding? The simple answer: Behind Brown and a very big Cadillac. Campbell is 6-4 3/4 and 230 pounds. His pass-drop is quick and textbook perfect. He sets up well in the pocket, bouncing athletically until he finds his receivers. He never flinches against a pass rush, moving deftly this way or that to avoid traffic. He throws on the run better than Rodgers or Campbell. On one throw against Kentucky last fall, he rolled out from his 46 to his right, then flicked a sideline throw 19 yards downfield for an in-stride completion. That’s the kind of throw he’ll be asked to make 100 times a year in the NFL.

    I had to look up Campbell’s numbers, because I’d been so focused on the two big names that I hadn’t focused on the lesser-lights at quarterback. He was 31-8 as an Auburn starter. He shattered the school’s completion percentage by three points, completing 64.6 percent of his throws. Why was he not considered a peer of the two top prospects?

    I heard two things when I asked around on Friday. One: he scored a very pedestrian 14 on his Wonderlic test last year, then got it up to 28 this year. Teams are suspicious that he studied for his Wonderlic and the 14 is closer to what his true score is. Two: If he was so good, why didn’t the Auburn offensive staff design the games around him instead of the great backs?

    My rejoinders: In the case of the Wonderlic, wouldn’t you want your quarterback to work to get better where he’s deficient? I would. And look how the kid adjusted to four different offensive coordinators in his Auburn career. He obviously was able to digest a lot of X’s and O’s pretty well. In regard to play-calling, let’s remember two things: First, SEC coaches voted Campbell the 2004 offensive player of the year. And he averaged 21 pass attempts a game. This isn’t Bob Griese with Kiick, Csonka and Morris, folks. This is a guy who controlled a high-octane offense and was the ringleader.

    I saw Frye bounce two short throws three feet away from uncovered receivers in his Indianapolis workout, and maybe that just soured me. But his over-the-top throwing motion looked cumbersome and labored. Anderson’s been schooled well by former Chargers boss Mike Riley. He throws a tight, hard spiral with a nice touch on the deep ball.

    But the 49ers won’t be looking at those guys. I hope they take another look at Campbell. I sure would if I were Mike Nolan.

  3. mbarnes202 - Apr 25, 2005 at 1:46 PM

    Yeah,
    Special Teams is not a bad way to go when (I guess) your scouts are telling you it will be tough for anyone else to make your team.
    A bunch of hard-hitting, heavy, strong runners, blockers, and tacklers can go a long way in projecting the image of the tough, hard-nosed football team.
    A few take aways for me are that Gibbs must like Jacobs (hooray), so our WR are a bit set.
    I do worry a lot about our defensive ends. What happens when Wynn goes down, or he simply is out of gas?
    As to the Brees-Rivers / Ramsey-Campbell comparison, certainly one hopes that’s accurate.
    Personally, after reading more about him, I worry Campbell’s a similar player to that althletic but little-else QB Dallas drafted in the second round (I think) a few years ago, who was summarily cut by Parcells (drugs, although that part of the story does not fit), and who now toils in either TB or Baltimore, I think, and who’s name I fittingly can’t remember at the moment.
    We’ll see. I remember thinking Joe Theisman was T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E when he first started– we actually mocked him while playing tackle football as a kid– we’d scramble around, then spike the ball in the ground. He turned out OK.

  4. 79Skin - Apr 25, 2005 at 4:01 PM

    Hello….thanks for the Blog, I enjoy checking in to see what the topic is.

    I am pretty disappointed in the direction of the Redskins in terms of the entire offseason, but for today I will just talk about the first day of the draft.

    I am a Mike Williams fan and he fell to the Skins at #9 I saw really, really good things. But the Skins couldn’t let me be happy, no way. Carlos Rogers will help the team on defense, but all season long last year and this offseason, I heard how this is a no-name defense, and it is the scheme and not the players. So letting Smoot and Pierce go was acceptable because we had guys on the roster to plug the holes. The offense, on the other hand, did not have a good scheme or good players. Wrong point to pick a CB, I think #25 would have been an acceptable time to get a new corner. #9 was for improving the offense and selecting Mike Williams.

    Now, for the #25 pick. Ramsey was selected the same year as Harrington. I think Ramsey is better than Harrington. And yet, look at what the Lions are doing for their ‘team leader’. Each year they give him a new stud WR, Rogers, Williams, and now another Williams, that in addition to drafting a RB in the first round last year. What have the Redskins done for our ‘team leader?’ Last year Gibbs picked Brunell to come in for an open competition at QB, but also paid him $43 million. (That’s a lot). There is no position where a player would be paid that much and not be a starter. Chris Samuels re-signed this year for $46.5 million; do you think there is a chance he is in an open competition for tackle? Unlikely. Brunell wins the spot and proves to be incapable of anything but calling timeouts, but then Ramsey rides in and plays well. Gibbs says the team is yours, Patrick. So what does Coach then do? Trade this year’s third round, next year’s fourth round and next year’s first round to select a new QB. But the team is still Patrick’s. Yeah. Just like a $43 Million dollar contract carries no weight, 3 draft picks doesn’t buy you any edge in the fight for starter. And in the first place do we even need another QB? Not at all. What we need to do is give our ‘team leader’ a team to play with. Give him a WR who can dominate the smaller corners. You want him to succeed, don’t give him a fire on his tail; give him a cast to support him.

  5. Anonymous - Apr 25, 2005 at 4:14 PM

    QB is the most important position on the field. Lets make the assumption that Gibbs knows something about developing a QB – he did after all develop 3 not so special QB’s into SB champions, something no other coach in the history of the sport has EVER done. Gibbs believes firmly that in order for a QB to develop and mature and reach his true potential, he needs to be pushed by competition with other QB’s. Who on the Redskins team is going to push Ramsey to improve? Hasselbeck? Brunnel? The answer is nobody, until now. There are too many nay-saying nobodies who are criticizing Gibbs’ decisions before these decisions can actually be graded. I’m not going to tell a brain surgeon how to operate and I’m not going to tell Gibbs how to develop a QB to lead his team. If I did, I’d just sound like an idiot.

  6. J_B - Apr 25, 2005 at 4:17 PM

    Gibbs also put a lot of eggs into the Mark Brunell basket last offseason.

    Maybe he’s lost his touch when it comes to evaluating talent at the QB position?

  7. Doug - Apr 25, 2005 at 7:41 PM

    I can’t help but notice an awful lot of negativity on this blog. Is it because the writers at the Washingot Post are carrying on their own personal vendetta against the Redskins, and some folks are buying into it.

    It’s hard to figure out. People think Joe Gibbs suddenly became stupid? I thought maybe the Redskins would take Mike Williams too. Now, I’m glad he didn’t. As was discussed prior to the draft, big name wide receivers rarely make a big hit upon arrival in the NFL.

    I think the draft was terrific! I’ll take the decisions Joe Gibbs makes every day over the ones some goofy sports writer says he should have made.

    We’re going to win a lot of games this year — count on it.

  8. mbarnes202 - Apr 25, 2005 at 9:00 PM

    Doug,
    If there’s negativity in my post, it’s because I’m worried. I’m a die-hard ‘Skins fan, and certainly nothing Pasquerelli, Canfora, or any other NFL reporter does will change that.
    But the draft strategy does raise doubts. Holes on the roster are there for everyone to see– LB, DE, and (for some) WR. QB, though, I thought we resolved that issue already.
    We now have two #1 draft-pick-QBs plus a $43MM Brunnel. True, QB is the most important position on the field. True.
    But unlike other positions, NO ONE has a great record evaluating QBs, to my knowledge, and they are FRAUGHT with risk. And Gibbs always was able to win with QBs that other folks thought were ordinary– Why couldn’t he do the same with Ramsey?
    There must be something I can’t see in Ramsey that Gibbs can’t sand(poor decision maker?) or one of Ramsey’s obvious faults must be deemed iredeemable– he can’t scramble (although neither could Doug Williams or Mark Rypien, but maybe Gibbs has concluded you need that)– or maybe Ramsey doesn’t make decisions quick enough. Who knows.
    But, it seems like a lot to pay for a QB most folks had going in the second round, and most observers felt was not a position of need for the ‘Skins.
    Our defensive ends, for example, are old, and there are no replacements in the pipeline.
    But certainly, certainly, I hope we’ve just drafted the next Joe Montana, and we can trade Ramsey to a needy team like the Cardinals or the Lions for a #2 pick next year. It just seems so …. risky.

  9. J_B - Apr 26, 2005 at 1:33 PM

    If the Redskins have the patience to wait on Campbell to develop at the pro level, then why not have the patience to wait for Mike Williams to develop as well?

    Campbell to Williams could have been a duo that led the Redskins into the promised land in the future.

    And my pessimism with regards to Joe Gibbs running the ship is nothing new.

    Joe Gibbs is a great football coach. But, he has never proven to be a great personnel guy that runs the whole thing like he pretty much is now.

    It’s like the issues I had when Marty was not only the head coach, but the guy making the personnel decisions. I liked Marty the coach and hated Marty the GM.

    It’s turning into much the same with Joe Gibbs.

    And while people point to Marty’s success in San Diego, I’ll also point out that in San Diego he has a solid personnel guy in AJ Smith handling the GM duties.

    I’d have a lot mroe faith in the plan moving forward if Joe Gibbs handed over the front office duties to a proven personnel guy like Ron Wolf or Scott Pioli.

  10. Rich Tandler - Apr 26, 2005 at 2:08 PM

    I’m not flipping on my stance that the Skins should hire a GM, but it’s not as though the one-man show can’t work. Both of the coaches in this past Super Bowl make all the personell calls.

  11. 79Skin - Apr 26, 2005 at 3:35 PM

    Yes there is a lot of negativity. But I dont think it is because of the media. Honestly I thought the media, especially the DC media (Post and Times) were pretty kind. I mean did you read Boswell? He is for all things Gibbs, and Canfora had skepticism but nothing really outrageous. All season long I have been waiting for the Redskins to improve their offense? Who among us hasn’t? And after the offseason and after the draft, do you think our players are any better? I just think Mike Williams would have give a possession receiever that the Redskins never had last year. I loved that thought of Campbell and Williams, how nice would that have been! But now the draft is over need to work with what we have, which isnt all bad. Next up is to see if The UMiami gang show up this weekend and start working for a better season.

  12. Ed Parker - May 17, 2005 at 6:39 PM

    I was out of the country when the draft happened, so this is late. I am mostly writing over frustration of other comments.

    First, the draft got Joe’s type of player – no glitz, just guts. This is NOT a Danny draft. Like it or not, Gibbs does not draft players for “play now” use. He uses the free agent route with veterans for that. The only thing Gibbs expects from draftees is to learn and, if capable, play special teams. This places little stress on youngsters, giving them a chance to learn and mature.

    Second, the highest paid position in the NFL now is no longer QB, it is CB. Garnell Wilds showed promise, but another, lead CB is in order so the 30 year old starters don’t disappear with no replacements on hand. CBs are vital to Greg Williams defense, not DLs. LBs and other blitzers are the core – the D-line occupies the O-line. Can anyone name a Buffalo DL-man from Williams’ tenure as their defensive co-ordinator when they were in consecutive years ranked 2 then 3 in the NFL? Speaking of LBs, the return of Arrington means Williams has two Pro Bowl players at this point of need. Does anyone doubt that Bowen will help both the blitz AND the run defense? I only hope Taylor lives to his promise, but there are clearly maturity issues (see point one above about pressure placed on starting now for draftees).

    Fourth, Gibbs has never made bones about needing two QBs due to the injury factor and the competition assets. Does anyone think that Brunell is the answer? When Brunell signed he openly stated that anyone who understood NFL contracts knew the deal was for two years. Who was in the wings? I don’t think Gibbs is anti-Ramsey, he is anti-Hasselback! He also needs someone who will be ready for spot duty after 18 months, given that only Bret Favre has 195 straight starts.

    Fifth, I don’t respect the Peter Kings while I do respect Ron Jaworski, who said that he ranked Campbell second right now with the potential to become the best QB out of this draft.

    Last, what killed us last year? Yes the offense stunk. But look at the numbers. How many points were given up on turnovers, which Gibbs has always said is the most deciding factor in winning or losing? How many points were lost in the red zone, more importantly within the 10 yard line, because the O-line/light running back combination got 3, not 7? Will Hall give us 3-pointers that were not tryable once he went out?

    If the Redskins are to improve, going from the third ranked defense to the first won’t do it. Going from the 29th ranked offense to the 16th, with a positive turnover ratio, and with Portis back to 4.5 yards per carry with a real center and right tackle, is more likely to improve the W/L ratio.

    Gibbs concentrated on the offense, but as he said at the end of the year, most players would be back. He seems to have more peices than we understand. Most telling to me is the WR/DE “need” that EVERY publication and sports writer identified for BOTH free agency and the draft. Gibbs not only ignored both positions for glitz, just look at the Redskins post-draft signings. The Redskins are not only not signing players at these positions, they seem to be avoiding them!

    If you think Joe G. has slipped a cog please respond. Maybe I can pick a few bets at favorable odds up from non-believers.

    PS About Chris Canty, his character issues have been both on and off the field. Gibbs doesn’t like high maintenance, risky types. Second, I was in Detroit when Mike Williams showed up for the post-draft news conference IN A SHORT SLEEVED SHIRT. He had neither a sport coat nor an overcoat. When quized about this peculiar attire in late-winter Detroit he said he was from Tampa and had played at USC, and did not expect cold weather. Good luck to both Steve Marriuchi and Mr. Williams in the October thru December time period in the black-and-blue division.

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