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Just a guy

Apr 20, 2009, 7:18 AM EDT

The Washington Redskins go into the NFL draft next weekend and the popular perception is that they have at least three glaring needs. It’s considered unacceptable to have either Jon Jansen or Stephon Heyer starting at right tackle, relying on a tag team of Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn at left defensive end is a shaky plan at best and there isn’t a starting-quality strong-side linebacker on the roster.

The Redskins can expect to have the opportunity to get an immediate starter at one of those positions on Saturday when their first-round pick comes up at No. 13. If you’re reading this, you know the names—Michael Oher and Andre Smith at tackle, Brian Orakpo and Robert Ayers at end and Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing at linebacker.

Or they might elect not to take any of those players if they trade up to take USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Dan Snyder, Vinny Cerrato and Jim Zorn spent Friday night wining and dining Sanchez at a trendy D. C. restaurant. I don’t think that they waste their time doing that unless they are serious about making a move. That doesn’t mean that it will happen but it has to be considered to be a possibility.

So, two or three of the above needs will remain after the first day of the draft. You can’t count on getting immediate help on the second day so come Sunday night when Mr. Irrelevant is named the Skins still will be unsettled in more than one position.

And many, if not most, NFL teams will be in the same boat. You can’t fill every starting position with a high draft pick or with a premium free agent. Sometimes you have to go with someone who is just a guy.

Should the Redskins not land an offensive tackle that guy could be Jansen or Heyer or maybe Devin Clark, a rookie free agent who spent last year on the practice squad. Wynn, Daniels, and Chris Wilson could be the guys rotating at left DE. H. B. Blades was a guy who filled in at linebacker last year and didn’t embarrass himself. Or another guy who could end up starting at the Sam linebacker is the recently-signed Robert Thomas, who has started 50 NFL games in six years in the league.

If you’re starting just a guy, it’s likely that you have to design your schemes to compensate for the average to below-average skills that your guy possesses. For this reason, the Redskins might be well advised to use their top pick on either the linebacker or the end. Since they usually are lined up on the same side of the field it makes it much more difficult to cover the weak spot.

And, again, the Redskins will not be alone if they start a couple of players who are just a guy. Virtually every NFL team has to pull a guy off the bench or sign a guy who is in low demand as a free agent and insert him into the starting lineup.

This isn’t to say that this is the ideal situation. That would be to have a young player who you drafted a couple of years ago ready to step in and start. But with 22 starting positions to fill, so much player movement and the uncertainties of the draft it doesn’t always work out that way. And, since the Redskins trade away so many draft picks (last year being very much the exception) they have that ready-to-go player available less often than most teams.

But if it’s not ideal that doesn’t mean that it’s a disaster. Nevertheless, Redskins Nation is likely to be fretting and wringing its collective hands on Monday morning, lamenting unfilled needs. Chances are, though, that a few guys will end up working out just fine.

  1. dr WNC - Apr 20, 2009 at 9:54 AM

    AMEN! Yes, a disappointment to not fill the identified needs but in the end, with the right coaches and solid “guys” a team can be succesful and perform.
    I was 100% for the Jason Taylor trade last year when it occured, it did not work out. The wrong player, the wrong system ect…but with him being hurt most of the year what it did show was the solid “guys” can get the job done most of the time and well enough to achieve a Top-5 ranked Defense.
    IMO, the front office should rely a little more on the “guy”, like a Jason Campbell and spend less time trying to identify the “big name, superstart” A team wins, when the just a guy performs based on the scheme to cover.

  2. Joe in Raleigh - Apr 20, 2009 at 10:52 AM

    Exactly, Rich. Sitting at #13, we’re exactly where we need to be. It’s a good spot to get one of the 6 guys you mentioned. Most likely, a couple of them will still be on the board. A smart team takes the best available guy at either OT, DE or LB. No need to reach for a particular need or trade up or down. Just use the pick.

    Quite frankly, I’m hoping for a Tackle in the 1st. Smith makes sense because I think Bugel coaching and Samuels mentoring will bring out the best in him.

    I’d love to see them find a Steve Slaton type RB in the 3rd.

  3. Anonymous - Apr 20, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    putting Sanchez behind our aging Offensive line is a recipe for disaster, if there ever was one.

    on the other hand, you think Snyder is going to be patient enough to watch Sanchez sitting on the bench for 2 years ? not with memories of what Ryan and Flacco did this past season still fresh in his mind

    and even Snyder cannot be so crass or foolish as to draft Sanchez and then start Campbell for this year.
    better to dump Campbell for whatever he brings on draft day and use that pick on an offensive lineman.

    and what of Zorn ? drafting Sanchez implies that Zorn gets at least this year and next to bring him along. anyone think that is happening ? and if Zorn goes, we have repeated the folly of picking a QB before we pick a head coach.

    Groundhog Day.. every day for Redskin fans..

  4. Kirby - Apr 20, 2009 at 2:43 PM

    “Wynn, Daniels, and Chris Wilson could be the guys rotating at right DE.”

    You got your sides mixed up. They might be rotating on the left while Carter mans the right (in general; sometimes there are changeups).

  5. Chris - Apr 20, 2009 at 3:57 PM

    And I mean this from the bottom of my heart:


  6. Rich Tandler - Apr 20, 2009 at 5:33 PM

    Thanks, Kirby, correction made.

    I’m going to do a post about the whole Sanchez thing in the next day or two; obviously, it’s not going away. But, my gut feeling right now is that the Skins won’t pay the price to move into the top five to take him. But if he slips past, say, number six, all bets are off.

  7. Anonymous - Apr 20, 2009 at 10:23 PM

    The Sanchez thing bugs me. Especially on the heels of the Cutler thing. Someone wants someone besides Campbell under center, and it seems like it might have become a priority.

    And even if you keep Campbell now, I don’t see how you can do it with a straight face. He’s got the idea by now that the organization doesn’t think much of him.

    Draft day will be interesting.

  8. Anonymous - Apr 21, 2009 at 12:45 AM

    campbell is gone, one way or the other. either after this year, or during the draft if they get another qb.
    snyder has signalled his intent both crassly, and clearly. the only question is when it will maximize what the team can get for Campbell.

    there is little to lose if the Skins dont draft Sanchez because this is the ultimate contract year for Campbell. he cannot afford to do anything except play his best because he would cost himself dearly.. besides, doing less than 100% is something Campbell is simply not capable of doing. that is his character.

    but, i am convinced that win or lose, we will have seen the last of Campbell in a Redskin uniform after this year.. if they can get a decent return for him in trade during the draft, i suspect Snyder will move him then..


  9. Aidan - Apr 21, 2009 at 9:45 AM

    It seems like Rich gets it. The commenters in this post get it. Just about everyone in Redskins Nation seems to get it. So why, in the name of all that is holy, doesn’t the Redskins’ leadership team get it?
    What is it behind the scenes that has spoiled them so much on Campbell? He seems to me, and to all of us, to be a decent to good QB on a team with a LOT of other needs. He’s a guy they traded two valuable picks for, but now they don’t want him. I agree the whole Cutler/Sanchez thing has me really cheesed off at the Redskins.
    And if they have no confidence in giving Colt Brennan a better shot, why did they even draft him?
    To me, I’d draft all the super big (DT, DE, OT, OG) or super fast (CB, WR) guys earlier, and pick up the more average sized guys (LB, RB, QB, S) later on. Of COURSE there are exceptions, but I think that’s a good rule of thumb. Get the freaks of nature when you can, and then pick up crazy hard working guys later.
    Will our beloved ‘Skins ever come around under Danny Boy??

  10. William Warshauer - Apr 21, 2009 at 5:47 PM

    I’m to the point where I think the Skins will never be good while Snyder owns them (but he’ll never sell). Seems ridiculous to me. As the previous poster says, Campbell is an OK to good QB. Give him a 2nd year in the same system and put some tools around him like a better O line… Archives

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