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Smith, Sanchez and other draft thoughts

Apr 13, 2009, 8:16 AM EDT

The NFL draft takes place in a week from Saturday and the Washington Redskins will be on the clock at pick number 13. They also have picks in the third (80th overall), fifth (150), sixth (186) and a compensatory pick in the seventh (243). The second- and seventh-round picks are vaporware, having gone in trades for Jason Taylor and Erazmus James respectively. The fourth-rounder was used to obtain Pete Kendall.

Those are all the picks they have for right now. There is a lot of talk about trading down to pick up some extra selections as the Redskins did last year. Of course you have to find a partner to do that and in most cases a team won’t commit to trading up until the pick that they may want is on the clock to ensure that the player that they covet will be there.

If, say, quarterback Mark Sanchez is on the board at #13, the Redskins’ phone could well be ringing off the hook. The Jets need a QB, and they pick at No. 17. They could slide up to get Sanchez and give up their third-round pick to do so.

They could trade out of the first round altogether like they did last year, but that seems unlikely. It would take three second-round picks to get the 13th pick and as of now no other team has the ammo to be able to pull this off.

Another way to gain up additional picks is to trade selections in future years. While I don’t think that Vinny Cerrato and Jim Zorn are on the hot seat to the extent that some do, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pull the trigger and use the team’s 2010 first-round pick a year early. The standard formula is that next year’s first gets you a second this year and if there is a player that the Redskins want sitting there and a team is willing to deal, they could well do it.

If the Redskins do pick at 13, who will they take? If I had to take a guess right now—and, unlike others, I will admit that this is just a guess—I’d say Alabama tackle Andre Smith. Yes, he blew off the combine, and he appeared to be a fat tub of goo at his pro day. Yes, he was suspended from the Crimson Tide’s bowl game for a violation of team rules. However, if he’s there he’s the best player on the board, hands down. I’ll take three years of game film showing a guy who has produced more pancakes than IHOP over the past three years over a couple of months of suspect behavior. Certainly, the Redskins would have to do their homework but in the absence of any red flags prior to February of this year they should pull the trigger.

It appears that more and more teams are starting to look at film of Smith rather than examine his pro day girth, however, and Smith may not be there at 13. Another choice at offensive tackle, Michael Oher of Mississippi, is sliding in the opposite direction so the Redskins may not be able to upgrade the tackle position in the first round. The worst mistake you can make is to reach to fill a need.

Will they take Sanchez? Mel Kiper created an uproar on Redskins message boards by listing the USC product as the Skins’ selection at #13. I think that there is about a 10% chance that he is right. You have to look at the fact that Jason Campbell is in the last year of his deal and the recent Jay Cutler pursuit has to make you believe that the Redskins think that they can upgrade the position. While they say that Campbell is their man, I don’t think that they’ll hesitate to pull the trigger on Sanchez if he’s by far the best player on their board.

My dark horse for the pick is running back Knowshon Moreno of Georgia. I think that they have to have someone who can be productive in spelling Clinton Portis, and they need to look beyond the Portis era. If there is no salary cap in 2010, in fact, that era could end sooner rather than later.

Things should settle down in the next week or so and I’ll post a revised guess prediction for the pick. I am planning on doing a live blog for both days of the draft so check back for details on that.

The first excerpt from my new book The Redskins Chronicle has been posted. Go here to take a look. To find out more about the book and to sign up to get notified when it gets published, go to

  1. wtfree3 - Apr 13, 2009 at 1:06 PM

    The other reason the Skins aren’t concerned about losing Campbell (and Rogers)? The uncapped year in 2010 will make both of them RFAs instead of UFAs. Plus, the Skins will have 3 tags available to themselves instead of the normal 1 tag each offseason. Sanchez could be a possibility, but considering they have at least 3 more seasons to decide on him (or until a new CBA is in place), then I doubt it.

  2. Rich Tandler - Apr 14, 2009 at 6:41 AM

    That does complicate things a bit. What you say is true, but what if they work out an agreement and there’s a cap and four-year free agency again? I think that the odds are against it, but you can’t go into it banking on an uncapped 2010.

  3. wtfree3 - Apr 14, 2009 at 9:56 AM

    I’m not sure anything in the current CBA can be banked on at this point. The economic model is going to change radically, I have a feeling. Which direction remains to be seen, depending on which of the 4 or more factions makes concessions. There are at least 2 factions on the owner and on the player side, and this is going to be anything but easy. Not sure how you gameplan for any of it.

    That said, I think that the likelihood of an uncapped year next year is what the Skins are banking on with those two, at least when it comes to resigning them. With new union leadership, I don’t see them making the kinds of concessions before an uncapped year becomes a reality in 10 months or less. (Not sure what the cutoff date will be.) And once uncapped, the players’ leadership has sworn they won’t go back to a cap, though we’ll have to see. Not an easy position to defend during economic struggles.

  4. Rich Tandler - Apr 14, 2009 at 11:00 AM

    Remember that no cap means no floor either, so teams could radically reduce payrolls if that fits their particular economic climates.

    The question is, do you rest your plans for the most important position on the field on the uncertainties of such a convoluted situation? Or do you move to secure it regardless of the outcome of the CBA?

  5. Boss Hog - Apr 14, 2009 at 12:48 PM

    Is Oher really falling that fast?

    Rich, you’ve been beating the drum for a long time that this team’s fundamental problem in the past half-decade is on offense, not defense. While we don’t make as many big plays on either side of the ball as I’d like, the D has almost always been good enough to win. Signing Haynesworth more than makes up for losing J.Taylor and Marcus Washington, and gives our D even more big play potential. The USC linebackers are nice, but they’re not what we need now. We have to look to the offense with the top pick and at least 3 of our 5 selections.

    We need, especially, to look at the O-line. Right now we’ve got four starters over 32(!), and none of them besides possibly Samuels was better than league average in the second half of the season. Jansen was far worse than average. I guess if the Skins go LB or somewhere else at #13, is that a sign that the staff believes Stephon Heyer is the real deal? That seems like a big gamble to me, given what he showed and didn’t show last year.

    Or maybe it would mean they just flat-out don’t believe in Oher. In that case, we should have a trade lined up if Smith doesn’t drop. #13 isn’t so high, I don’t think, that it’s impossible to get fair trade value in return. With later 1st round or 2nd rd picks we can look at some of the second-tier OLs who are still projected as solid starters. Whatever the case, if we don’t address OL relatively early on in the draft, our neglect of the position will start to look criminal.

  6. Rich Tandler - Apr 14, 2009 at 8:52 PM

    Boss, I have seen a big drop by Oher lately. He’s going in the late teens now in most of the mocks that I’m looking at.

    Of course, I’m relying on the opinions of others here. It always mystifies my how a player can drop like a rock while not playing a single snap of football (absent any major negative stories coming out such as an injury or drugs).

    The only board that matters is the Redskins’.

  7. Danny Z. - Apr 16, 2009 at 1:14 PM

    I’m sorry, but most 90 year old women have a better chest than Andre Smith. And Jay Cutler did more reps with 225 lbs than Smith. The Skins need to cross him off their draft board right now just so they don’t accidently pick him.

    If Oher is not there at #13, they need to pick DE or OLB.

  8. Anonymous - Apr 19, 2009 at 11:52 PM

    sorry, if you have watched any of Smith’s video’s while at Bama, the guy simply lived to crush SEC D linemen.. i dont care how many reps he can do, he was strong enough to dominate people when it really counted.

    now, i think he is going to need lots of time in the weightroom to achieve the same level of success in the nfl,
    and nothing is guaranteed. he will have to earn it. but he has the physical dimensions to be an outstanding tackle. people who throw him out because of what has happened over the last weeks (and the agent issue) are seeing what they want to see. the guy can play and dominate at the SEC level. if he wants it, he can achieve the same in the nfl

    if he is there at 13, the Redskins should run that pick up to the podium

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