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Redskins may have to wait for first-rounder to become a starter

Feb 26, 2016, 12:00 PM EDT


NFL teams used to be able to count on getting an instant starter in the first round of the NFL draft. It still happens but it’s not something that teams can count on year after year.

The Redskins are drafting 21st but fans need to temper their expectations of getting a player the team can plug into the lineup right away. Let’s look at the drafts from 2010-2015 and see how many of the players taken in the No. 21 spot and the players take two spots before that pick and two spots after it ended up starting. That range of five picks over six years can give us an idea of what the chances are that the player picked by the Redskins in the first round will be a immediate starter.

Calculating the odds by looking at those 30 players, the answer is—flip a coin. Of the 30 players taken with picks 19 through 23 since 2010, 15 were their teams’ primary starters as rookies.

But, if you want to hone in on what has happened lately, the chances of the Redskins’ top pick starting right away are not so good. Last year, just one player taken in the range we’re examining here was his team’s primary starter. That was receiver Nelson Agholor of the Eagles. In 2014, two became immediate starts and in 2013 three were. So from the last three drafts the immediate starter percentage is 40.

“We’re not getting instant oatmeal anymore,” Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said at the NFL Combine. “And you’ve got to understand there’s going to be growing pains. Nothing’s easy. A guy can have all the talent in the world. But this game is about fundamentals and when we’re getting them they don’t have it. So our coaches have to really coach and teach, and it takes longer.”

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was blunt in his assessment of the players coming out.

“Great athletes,” he said of the current crop. “The athletes are much, much better, but the fundamentals are worse than they’ve ever been. “

His boss, Arizona GM Steve Keim, agrees.

“When you’re watching offensive linemen and they’ve never been a three-point stance, or a quarterback who has never been in a huddle or under center, you have to project,” said Keim. “That’s part of the business and that’s what makes it fun, difficult and challenging.”

It should be noted here that just because a lot of first-rounders don’t start doesn’t mean they don’t contribute as rookies. If the Redskins take a D-lineman he’ll be a part of the rotation. A cornerback would pay nickel or some packages on defense and a wide receiver would get some snaps as a fourth wideout in some situations.

But if the Redskins’ first-round pick doesn’t start right away or is in and out of the starting lineup, it’s too early to start applying the bust label. Over the last few years such a player has been shown to be the norm.

  1. bangkokben - Feb 26, 2016 at 12:09 PM

    Good work. The position is probably going to determine whether #21 is an immediate starter or a starter in waiting. If we draft a center or an ILB or safety, then I think there is a good chance he will start right away.

    • skinsdiehard - Feb 26, 2016 at 12:22 PM


    • redskinsnameisheretostay - Feb 26, 2016 at 3:02 PM

      I don’t think you’ll get a starting center right away. That’s a huge expectation. Also ILB would depend since many ILBs are signal callers and setup the defense. If you are looking at a replacement where Riley played then that’s possible.

      • Trey Gregory - Feb 27, 2016 at 4:55 AM

        Yeah. There’s a very small chance we draft a starting center. Of all the things scouts, GMs, coaches, analysts, and execs disagree on about the draft, almost everyone agrees that QBs and offensive linemen have the hardest transition to the pro game. It’s harder for them and takes them longer to develop than any other position. Which is why both positions are so thin right now.

        Those guys are just asked to do completely different things in college. It doesn’t prepare them for the NFL. Then add that center is arguably the hardest position on the line…. I really don’t think you want a rookie center in today’s NFL.

        I get the ILB thing though. Because ours are just that bad. Barry can just have Goldson make the calls until the rookie gets up to speed (kidding). But really, I could see us starting a rookie Mike linebacker drafted a 21 or maybe even in the second. That’s how little I think of our current guys. We have decent options already on the roster to play center (Long, Leribeus, Kouandjo, Reiter, and maybe even Cory L) and an offensive line genius to coach them up. We don’t have that at ILB

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Feb 27, 2016 at 9:04 AM

          That’s a good point about moving signal calls to the safety. It’s not an ideal option for the DC running a 3-4 but it has been done.

          The only ILB option I see available to the Redskins in the 1st is possibly Ragland, but I wouldn’t want to select him at 21. I do like Ragland but with the pool of talent that exists at D-line, I just see better options in positions better apt for a 1st round selection. There will be either a run on the glut of D-line players by 21 making way for the team to select a potential starting player at other positions (i.e DB) or they’ll still be a few highly talented defensive lineman around to choose over instead (i.e. DE).

          The other reason I’m not huge on Ragland in the 1st is that his career so far has shown he is a more one dimensional run stuffing player. Rich made the comment ” Will Scot McCloughan go for a defender who may be a two-down player with pick No. 21?”. That’s the crux of the issue I have here about a 1st pick. I love the guys size and physicality. However, everything else outside of stopping the run which includes his game speed leaves huge questions. If it was C.J. Mosely then I’d say make the pick but Ragland hasn’t shown the range that Mosely did in college. We’ll see what the combine shows.

  2. berniebernard666 - Feb 26, 2016 at 12:40 PM

    The Person picking the draft, the need, and the coaches who coach them up will be the determining factor. Perfect example is the Skins. They needed a right guard, Scott M. Drafted Sherff, and then the best offensive line coach in the league coached Sherff up. End result was a guy on the verge of being Pro Bowl quality.

    at any rate, great teams can draft backups, but bad teams draft starters. That was not taken into account in the article. The Redskins need starters because they are not close to great.

    • John - Feb 26, 2016 at 9:33 PM

      Keep in mind that Scherrf came out of a school where offensive linemen are groomed by Kirk Ferenz a line guy. A fair number of current linemen came out of Iowa, Brian Baluga comes to mind as well as another lineman in Baltimore.
      Scherrf was also a high pick and a natural guard, so having Callahan was a bonus for him in terms of development. Had they not had Morgan Moses he would have struggled at Right Tackle.

  3. kenlinkins - Feb 26, 2016 at 1:10 PM

    College coach’s today are not concerned with getting guys ready for the NFL once a kid has signed that letter of intent. The College game and NFL game are now worlds apart and it is a much bigger jump going from College to Pro. Not so long a ago almost any top flight college player could make it in the NFL but today that is not true. Todays NFL requires everyone to learn new ways. Their was a time when a big dumb DE, DT could just show up and make a NFL team or a speedy WR could just run by people or Safeties could just play center field with a bit of reading the QB’s eyes, but not today. You can no longer hide weakness on a NFL field, it will show up on tape and be used against you. The talent level now includes learning to a greater degree and if you can not learn, develop and progress your stay in the NFL will be very short. There are very few who have the talent to avoid the class room / film study or do not take the time require to master new skill sets and become a NFL starter. If you crap out of your first NFL training camp you have reduced your chances on making it in the NFL by 70%.

    • ET - Feb 26, 2016 at 1:50 PM

      Something I really admire about Scot M. is that he seems to pursue players who can succeed in the “new” NFL. He’s not overally impressed by measurables of the Combine variety. Instead, he looks for smart, diligent players with flexibility.

      Scot wouldn’t have drafted players like Scherff, Smith, Spaight or Jarrett without all three of those characteristics, IMO. Obviously there’s a high athletic baseline that every NFL player needs to match, but without a strong work ethic and some real football intelligence not too many players can be effective at the pro level—not for long, at least.

  4. Mr.moneylover - Feb 26, 2016 at 1:34 PM

    Scot m. Said he rather look at the guys who stayed in college for all four years he said he like guys who fulfilled they commitment to they school…so that don’t mean our first pick will be a junior…there is a lot of players coming out of college early tho that’s why its important to workout a long term deal with kirk cousins so if we have to draft a junior he stay on the sidelines for a year…and there’s a report out saying redskins paid our former LB H.B Blades 40,000 dollars by accident in 2013 and the LB refuse to give the money back…damn our front office was that f-up to were they paid a old player from 2007 40,000 geessh

  5. colmac69 - Feb 26, 2016 at 2:07 PM

    Adam schefter reporting skins gonna tag cousins….only decision is what tag they put on him

    Also saying two teams have enquired bout facilitating poss trade for rgiii

    Interesting developments to say least esp possible trade for rgiii

    • greed - Feb 28, 2016 at 10:05 AM

      he also said team hasnt ruled out tagging Cousins and trading him

  6. redskinsnameisheretostay - Feb 26, 2016 at 3:21 PM

    I have to laugh at some of these NFL coaches complaining about fundamentals not being taught in College. After all, NFL and NCAA football are two different self supporting entities that make a lot of money. NCAA football doesn’t run the same systems or teach the same schemes as the NFL. It’s the NFL that needs NCAA football to provide them players and not the other way around. So if the NFL wants better fundamentals then add more elements of the college game to get these kids on the field faster. Oh wait, they already have done that in many instances.

    The real problems is that development has always been a part of what the NFL does for players. However, the game today in the NFL doesn’t have patience to put the time in for development any longer. CBA rules play a big part of that limiting practice times and full pad practices overall. Are NFL coaches really in a position to complain? They don’t even allow Quarterbacks to develop before they are hurried onto the fields. Many careers are probably detoured or ruined by NFL coaches trying to squeeze so much in so little time before putting players on the field.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 26, 2016 at 4:27 PM

      I didn’t take these as complaints from GMs and coaches. Just stating facts in answer to questions. I agree 100% that college coaches are paid to win games, not prep players for the NFL.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Feb 27, 2016 at 9:14 AM

        I was feeding off of direct comments provided but also similar comments made by NFL scouts over the last few years. The lack of desired fundamentals seems to have become a more frequent statement being reported over those last few years. I also could be reading too much into a those comments that were made during that time frame. I get the impression the NFL wants the NCAA to act the role as their own farm league. I just think that role ended a long time ago.

    • hail74 - Feb 26, 2016 at 5:51 PM

      Nfl coaches often are expected to win immediately by a fan base that typically thinks their favorite team and players are better than they are n reality. Coaches that are hired by a stable franchise with patience or have become so are more likely to give time to develop than the guy who’s afraid he’ll be fired in a year or two. Gil Brandt said it best when he said that Tom Landry never would’ve made the HOF in today’s era simply because he’d a been fired after 3 straight losing seasons to start his career, certainly after 5 like he actually had.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Feb 27, 2016 at 9:22 AM

        I disagree that today NFL coaches are often asked to win immediately. I think it is more uncommon unless you are hiring an all star squad to run a playoff contending team.

        That’s a good quote you brought up by Gil Brandt. It has its foundation for some truth. The way I see it is the Cowboys certainly would not have allowed 3 bad seasons today. However Landry would have moved on to another team to be successful much like Belichick did after being fired by the Cleveland/Baltimore organization.

    • John - Feb 26, 2016 at 9:43 PM

      Coaches are not allowed to coach because they are limited by rules. Players come out of systems that don’t fit the NFL mold and somehow they get big bucks and are expected to produce ASAP…

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Feb 27, 2016 at 9:32 AM

        The rookie contracts limit salaries today so the past issue of large salary rookies no longer applies. Rich already provided numbers where almost half players selected between 19th and 23rd don’t start in their first year. So the rush to get on the field, I think only applies to maybe the 1st 6-to-10 players drafted every season.

        I did state CBA rules on limiting practices and full pad practices plays a big part of hampering the coaches ability to develop. I assume that’s what you mean by the today’s rules.

        What’s really has happened IMO is that you have more system coaches in College who are a very smart group capable of scheming plays that change the overall fundamentals of the game. The NFL and their coaches just need to figure out how to catch up to it or at least learn to work in the time to build the fundamentals they need to play in their own system.

        • John - Feb 27, 2016 at 8:32 PM

          College teams are able to do those things because the talent is so spread out from school to school. A result of that is that they can design systems to make up for weaknesses in their personnel but a lot of those guys who may have been good in college never see the field in the NFL, others will play but end up in diminished roles (Desmond Howard: Big time receiver/returner in college at Michigan, never much as a receiver in the NFL but known for his ability as a returner, however short lived). At the the NFL level you have the best if the best, everything is faster and the defenses far more complex.

          In the case of some of the QBs mentioned, whathas Gabbert done and what did he do in college because he looks helpless out there. Locker never rreally got going. RG3 has been banged up at times but is not NFL ready without a system that utilizes his skill set.

          The problem is not a lack of innovation. The NFL teams do incorporate elements of the college game but they are wrinkles (something to force an opponent to practice against, even if it won’t be used in a game), not full blown offensive or defensive systems.

          As far as college coaches and the NFL, what have they accomplished in the NFL? Mouse Davis and the “run and shoot” lasted a few seasons but now its only in college with June Jones. Steve Spurrier and the “fun and gun”, did not last long. In the NFL. Chip Kelly has all ready been fired once. Those were all innovators. Whatever is brought in as “the next best thing since sliced bread usually gets stopped within a few seasons at the NFL level.

          Kids picked high are generally expected to play, if not start within their first season. If your gonna get paid, then be prepared to take your lumps. If the coach needs you to play to insure a chance at job security be prepared to play. Its that simple. That’s why the NFL is referred to as “not for long”.

        • Trey Gregory - Feb 28, 2016 at 3:35 AM

          @John: I know you don’t know me from any other idiot online. So I’m going to try and not be insulted that you thought you needed to explain that to me. I’m very well aware of the differences between the college and pro games. I’m also very well aware about how the talent is spread out and why certain systems and players succede in college that don’t in the NFL. I thought about expanding on that in my post but I didn’t want it to be 30 paragraphs long (because it’s far more complicated than you just made it out to be) and I also thought it was kind of implied that we all realize the differences between college and the pros.

          I’m not saying Jacksonville should pick up Baylor’s system from Art Briles and hope for the best. I’m saying there are things to learn and things to figure out. Instead of saying “the game must be played like this,” look at what your players are good at and do that. That’s what innovative college coaches have done. There is a place for it. Why does a rookie QB who has never, ever taken snaps from under center need to be under center if your going to force him to start in his first year? What can’t he do from the pistol or shotgun that he’s doing from under center? Did Peyton Manning ever look comfortable under center? He did just fine without it. They should sit these QBs, even the first rounders, and allow them to develop into their pro systems. But if they insist on starting them, then they need to tailor something to what they do better and ease them into the pro system (or change their system all together) instead of just setting them up to crash and burn like those QBs I named.

          And that was my point of naming those QBs. All the potential in the world coming out of college and they are labeled as failures. But neither one of us know how they would have ended up if they got to sit behind a pro for 3-4 years and develop. Rogers was raw out of college. He did not come from a pro system. I don’t think he would have favored very well if he had to start right away. So I was wondering what may have been had those other guys been allowed to develop. That was the point.

          And, I may have misunderstood you, but are you saying that there haven’t been college coaches that succede in the NFL? Or that it’s rare? Because there’s a pretty big list of college coaches who made the transition and did just fine. Including a couple who have recently coached in the SB. (Pete Carrol and John Harbough. Jim Harbough wasn’t a college HC but he started in college). I don’t have time to list every single college coach who succeeded in the NFL but arguably one of the top head coaches of all time, Jimmy Johnson, came from college. The list of coordinators is even longer. Also, even thought I can’t stand Chip Kelly, I’ll argue that the jury is still out on him. I believe it’s his inability to relate to people that caused his failure, not his football IQ or innovation. Chip Kelly could be the best offensive coordinator in the league if his ego would allow that to happen.

    • Trey Gregory - Feb 27, 2016 at 4:48 AM

      @Redskinsname: Man, you just made a couple outstanding points that I wish more people would understand.

      The college game has been moving away from the pro style for a while, and that isn’t going to change. Why? Well, among other reasons, because it allows schools with lesser talent to compete. These systems allow teams without too recruiting classes to win. The NFL needs to wake up and realize some aspects of these systems work and should be added. These guys are just so stuck in their ways and are afraid to innovate. But you’re also correct that some parts have shown up in the NFL with success. Tailor your NFL system to the athletes you’re getting and you’ll have better results. Also, if you don’t have elite NFL talent, maybe try some of these systems that make lesser athletes look like stars.

      Also development, especially QBs. We act like so many guys are busts when they were really broken by being played too early. I’m not so sure Aaron Rogers wouldn’t be a backup our out of the league right now if he had to start right away. But then you look at the Blane Gabberts, Jake Lockers, or RG3s of the world. Guys with so much talent but weren’t ready for an NFL system and got their confidence, body, and development shattered because of it. Don’t play a guy before they’re ready. It’s that simple. Better to wait, lose in the short run, then reap the rewards later. Hopefully that’s what teams are doing with guys like Brice Petty and Brett Hundly. Also why the NFL needs a spring/developmental league.

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - Feb 27, 2016 at 9:54 AM

        I think we are liked mines about the college football system and their ability to make the most out of the talent. The ability for coaches to do with so little, like the Bowling Greens and maybe Houston to some degree. It shows to me that coaching in college is on par, if not better than, overall coaching in the NFL.

        I’ve also brought up Aaron Rogers in the past as a example of what a Quarterback in the NFL can be when properly developed in the league.

        A spring development league would be an excellent idea and I think it should replace mini camps for rookies. Have it run up until a few weeks before TC. The problem is getting a CBA that will agree to it. It’d be better for both the NFL and the fans if they’d run something like what you suggest.

  7. renhoekk2 - Feb 26, 2016 at 3:48 PM

    Of course this is the time to start overthinking things so I am starting to wonder if they have moved on from Pot Roast maybe the will be looking for a NT at 21. There are only 2 really good ones in the draft. Andre Billings and Austin Johnson. Billings is slightly higher rated on draft boards and is not expected to be around at pick 53. Johnson from most mock drafts is going right around pick 53. Not out of the question that some team moves up ahead of the Skins if they need a NT. GB, PIT, KC, NE,AZ, DEN all run a 3-4 and could trade up if they think the Skins are considering Johnson and they are looking for a NT themselves. Of course there other guys in the draft that can play the position but Billings and Johnson seem like the only two that can be difference makers at the position and true upgrades from Knighton.
    They are bring back Paea, Baker, RJF, and signed Hood. Hatcher is still in play as well. If they sign Galette then P Smith and Murphy could be playing a lot of DE in nickle packages, so the need for a NT is much greater than DE. Billings or Johnson would go a long way to fixing the run defense and it’s no sure bet that either will be around at pick 53.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Feb 26, 2016 at 5:27 PM

      If we want Billings we have to pick him at 21.

      I like the way he played in college. Will Scot think he’s big enough to be our NT? We’ll see…

      • Trey Gregory - Feb 28, 2016 at 3:38 AM

        I think Billings can be a good NT but I’m extremely biased. I’m a huge fan. He’s not huge like Pot Roast but his strength and athleticism is off the charts. That’s my reasoning. But I am curios to see what other people think about him at NT.

  8. Mr.moneylover - Feb 26, 2016 at 4:58 PM

    The transition tag means kirk cousins can take offers from other teams and redskins will have to match it…ian rappreport and pro football talk said all options still on the table and a source close to the situation said the current plan is to not Franchise tag kirk cousins and they even didn’t rule out the possibly of trading kirk cousins…all these reports are crazy…pick one to believe…I said franchise tag kirk cousins will hurt redskins in other areas and I think they don’t wanna take that route they rather get a long term deal done…Denver gonna let Brock osweiler test free agency…redskins gotta make sure they have a good backup plan in place if they put the transition tag on kirk cousins

    • goback2rfk - Feb 26, 2016 at 6:42 PM

      These reports are stupid. One a bunch of bullsh|t. Cousins is not going to be traded. The problem is Cousins is not worth what he wants, or at least, he has not proved himself to be worth 18 million a year.
      If he has another playoff birth season next year than go ahead and pay the man but until then lets pay this guy peanuts. Cousins is worth like less than Jay Cutler money. 14 million a year is fair.

      • Mr.moneylover - Feb 26, 2016 at 10:53 PM

        But if redskins franchise tag him witch 19 mill if he plays well then by lead rule redskins will have to pay over that amount per year and they don’t want to do that that’s why its not a no brainer to just franchise tag kirk cousins…if kirk cousins play well next season on a franchise tag then guys like Jordan reed won’t get paid or djax will get cut those some of the risk it may caughts by franchise tagging kirk cousins…if another team decide to over pay kirk cousins off one average season then let them QBs don’t win superbowls defense do

        • hail74 - Feb 26, 2016 at 11:21 PM

          I’m sorry but are you saying don’t tag him because he may play well enough to warrant another contract? Isn’t that what we should want from our players? Djax is more than likely to be gone in 2017 anyway. His contract will be up and he’ll be over 30. Reed isn’t going anywhere.

    • Mr.moneylover - Feb 26, 2016 at 11:04 PM

      They said kirk cousins looking for 19 mill per year if that’s true I can see why they not close to a deal…jay cutler not even making that amount neither is Andy Dolten…something just not right with this situation even ….the reports are similar but just one added the fact that they won’t rule out trading him all options on the table….redskins might have 15 picks if they trade kirk cousins…they will get two by the NFL and more from they trade partner

      • hail74 - Feb 26, 2016 at 11:22 PM

        Why would the nfl give us two picks?

  9. goback2rfk - Feb 26, 2016 at 5:24 PM

    These Cousins trade rumor reports are stupid. No one wants Cousins at the helm and the Redskins know it. Thats why they don’t want to pay him 18 million dollars a year. Kirk is only worth like 14 million a year plan a simple. And if Kirk wants a trade they better honor it. And cut Rg3 while your at it also.

  10. James McFullan - Feb 26, 2016 at 9:17 PM

    So today Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche, Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed and Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence all confirmed they’ve met with the Redskins. What positions would each one play if drafted by the Redskins, and there was a report that came out today saying that teams believe Jaylon Smith will miss the entire 2016 season, how much will that affect his draft stock?

    • hail74 - Feb 26, 2016 at 9:38 PM

      Teams are actually afraid the nerve damage he has in his knee and ankle could cause him to miss more than just next season.

    • Mr.moneylover - Feb 26, 2016 at 10:55 PM

      He might get drafted in a late round of possibly go undrafted

      • James McFullan - Feb 27, 2016 at 1:32 AM

        There’s no way a guy who was projected to be a top 10 pick falls out of the draft, but if he does, the Redskins better sign him.

  11. greed - Feb 28, 2016 at 10:01 AM

    it time for skins to use a high 1-3rd round pick on a safety! Weve tried late round picks and retreads, D.G. Did a gd job and was a leader but he long in the tooth for a safety , when does his age catches up with his play ? See ryan clark its time to address this position the right way Archives

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