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Drafting the draft that’s in front of you

Apr 27, 2009, 9:08 AM EDT

Should the Washington Redskins have taken an offensive tackle in the draft?

Certainly, it would have been nice to come out of the weekend having secured the long-term replacement for the right offensive tackle position, preferably a replacement who could line up with the first team in minicamp. It’s a problem area and important one.

The first chance they had to snag a tackle was with their first pick, the 13th overall. By all reports they were focused on Brian Orakpo, the pass-rushing defense end they’ve been without for about 20 years, and Michael Oher, the Mississippi offensive tackle. Orakpo was the pick.

Oher didn’t go until 10 picks later. Not only did the Redskins think that Orakpo was the better player, the 10 teams who drafted after them didn’t value Oher enough to make him a pick in the teens. Regardless, we will be able to compare the careers of Oher and Orakpo as the years go by and see if the Redskins erred in taking the end over the tackle.

But for right now the Orakpo pick is, at worst, defensible.

It is the third-round pick of Maryland cornerback Kevin Barnes that has some folks irate. A third-round pick generally isn’t an instant starter but he could be and, certainly, one would expect that the 80th overall pick, a first-day selection under the old draft schedule, would be ready to start at some point in the next year or so.

So why not a tackle here? I don’t have access to the Redskins’ draft board but one would have to assume that Barnes was the higher-rated player and that no offensive tackle was close.

You can say that Vinny Cerrato and company and the rest of the gang in Ashburn wouldn’t know a good prospect if he sat in their lap and called them mama (to quote the commercial played endlessly over the course of the draft). The rest of the league, however, backs up that judgment.

After Barnes was drafted with the 16th pick of the third round, no team took an offensive lineman for the rest of that round. Not one. The next offensive lineman to go was a center, Jonathan Lugis out of Arkansas, with the sixth pick of the fourth round (106 overall). The next player listed as an offensive tackle to go was T. J. Land of Eastern Michigan, who went a few picks later to Green Bay with the 109th overall pick. A Google search reveals, however, that it appears that he is being thought of more as a guard than as a tackle.

You have to go to the 35th pick of the fourth round, all the way to pick number 135, to find the next tackle taken. Troy Kropog of Tulane went to the Titans with a compensatory pick. Reaching by 50 picks, a round and a half, to fill a need is not the way to build through the draft.

If you want to argue that the Skins should have taken Jamon Meredith or Duke Robinson or Fenuki Tupou instead of Cody Glenn in the fifth, fine. I’ll concede that one. The rest of the league, however, didn’t seem to think as much of them as Kiper, Mayock, and the rest of the draft “experts” did. We can compare over the years and see how they turn out just like we do with other players the Redskins could have had like LaRon Landry vs. Amobi Okoye or Fred Davis vs. Calais Campbell.

While you can get lucky every once in a while you aren’t going to solve your problem areas for this year in the fifth round and later. If you want to debate Robert Henson vs. Tackle X or Eddie Williams vs. Tackle Y, be my guest. Again, time will tell.

The Redskins didn’t lose their opportunity to take a tackle in this draft over the weekend. They lost it last August when they dealt their second-round pick for Jason Taylor and when their fourth-rounder went to the Jets for Pete Kendall two years ago. That limited their options both in terms of sheer numbers and in the opportunity to move up and down. A second-round pick such as Phil Loadholt of Oklahoma would have made the whole draft look a lot better.

But you can’t draft the draft you wish was there, you have to work with was actually is there. Time will tell how this one will turn out.

  1. Joe in Raleigh - Apr 27, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    I agree with this. Truth be told, the Barnes pick looked better to me when the guys I liked (Meredith/Robinson/Peerman) were still available in Round 5. I wish they would have snagged one of them instead of the special team LBs.

    Maybe none of the linemen would have been contributors this year. But after a year of Bugel + weightroom, I’d feel better about the OL depth in 2010.

    I get concerned when the Skins count on undrafted guys to protect the QB. In my opinion, they’re undrafted for a reason.

  2. dr WNC - Apr 27, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    Agree Rich, enjoyed the last two days. Overall the draft was completed looking forward…
    Point of contention with the Hogs,and undrafted players.
    The line during the special seasons, only 2 of the 5 were drafted in round 3 or less…in the11th round of the 1985 draft. Raleigh McKenzie was the 290th pick overall, today an undrafted player, along with Bostic and Jacoby.

  3. Meatsnack - Apr 27, 2009 at 1:54 PM

    Except that, by your reasoning, we had to trade for Taylor because we failed to take Calais Campbell when we took Big Sleepy.

    If we had a young body at a known need position coming out of the 2008 draft, when Phillip Danuiels goes down we have Evans and Campbell and Wilson. No Taylor trade, we have our 2009 2nd and our 2010 6th. With our 2009 2nd, we draft Beattie, Unger, or Loadholt.

    Given the peculiarities of Blache’s requirements for DE (they have gap control responsibilities almost like a 3-4 DE, C. Campbell was very well suited. Unlike Jason Taylor, who Blache didn’t want because he didn’t fit his scheme at end.

  4. Rich Tandler - Apr 27, 2009 at 3:45 PM

    Again, meatsnack, we’ll see about C. Campbell. Palmermo, his DL coach at Miami, didn’t think much of him.

    But, to your bigger point, if you do draft who you think is the BAP and it turns out that he’s not, and it’s not even close, you end up with holes.

  5. Boss Hog - Apr 27, 2009 at 5:26 PM

    Rich, that’s exactly the problem with taking fealty to “BAP” to an absurd extreme. I’ll concede that the rest of the draft showed that taking Duke Robinson et al in the 3rd round would have been a reach. But remember, Duke was on almost every draft expert’s top 100 board I saw. To pass on him and other reasonably regarded OLs in the 5th — and the immediate line run that followed our pick showed that there were several names a lot of teams liked that had dropped — only to take a project athlete out of nowhere like Cody Glenn… I can’t agree with it. Seems like Vinny trusted his ‘direct line’ to Bo Pelini at the expense of draft CW and the Skins’ gaping need at line.

    I’m not saying a fifth round guard or tackle would have solved our line problems — obviously, that’s a stretch. But I do find it problematic that the Skins don’t seem to be making O-line a priority. I know we had other holes going into the draft, but in my mind OL was by far the most significant. That goes double after we took Orakpo at #13. I just don’t like the symbolism, or the principle, that has us sign 18 other guys in the next two days, only one of whom is an OL. I don’t think I’ll be convinced otherwise until our line play, one way or another, improves considerably from last season…

  6. Danny Z - Apr 27, 2009 at 8:38 PM

    Boss Hog,

    My thoughts exactly.

    I’m sorry, but with the 5th round pick, I just can’t understand how we couldn’t take a chance on a player like Duke Robinson or Herman Johnson. Neither would have solved our problem at OT, but either might have been a long term replacement and immediate backup for Randy Thomas.

  7. The Analyst - Apr 28, 2009 at 8:30 AM

    They lost it last August when they dealt their second-round pick for Jason Taylor and when their fourth-rounder went to the Jets for Pete Kendall two years ago.Actually in a perverse way we are lucky they gave away those picks. If Mssrs. Snyder and Cerrato had them in their hot little hands last weekend we would have overpaid in picks for a Quarterback who has played all of 16 games, who likely would not be ready to play this year, and it is also likely we would have lost the Quarterback who is ready to play this year. Instead, we are saved from that mistake by our spendthrift owners’ previous mistakes. And maybe Orakpo provides a bonus by playing well for us for a long time.

    Still wondering what we are supposed to do for a Tackle who can play 16 games this year…

  8. salamander - Apr 28, 2009 at 11:50 PM

    only thing we can assume is that they didn’t think anyone available on the board was better than backups they already have.

    they could have drafted someone and try to groom him for next year or beyond, but then again, if they use a 1st or 2nd rounder next year on a tackle, it will be for someone they expect to start next year.

  9. Meatsnack - Apr 29, 2009 at 6:35 PM


    There is no “metaphysical certitude” draft board. The horizontal component of a draft board showing players across position of roughly equal value allows you to make BPA picks matrixed with need. That is what it is for.

    Pure BPA does not exist and is a complete dodge outside the first few super-blue chip players in each draft. Only an idiot of the level of Vinny Cerrato wastes a 2nd round pick on a TE when the team has a Pro Bowl TE whonever misses games.

    Anyone who argues that Fred Davis was so much better than everyone else that there was no one near him on the horizontal axis of the draft board is either a) a sef-seving liar like Vinny or b) completely confused about the whole “draft” concept like Vinny. (After reading this it seems strident, and it isn’t directed at you, Rich. I am just very frustrated at the front office situation being a train-wreck of such proportion that it makes the Casserly years look good by comparison.)

    When you see the Patriots maneuver around the draft, adding picks, getting targeted players, adding picks in a very strong 2010 draft…

    Well, it kind of takes the punch out of the concept of taking the draft that comes to you. You can make your own luck. Archives

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