Five reasons to be happy the Redskins don’t have a first-round NFL draft pick


Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III shows off his new jersey with Commissioner Roger Goodell in  2012. Not all Washington picks have been smile-worthy. (Photo by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Unless Kevin Costner trades Cleveland’s No. 26 pick for Kirk Cousins, the Redskins won’t have a pick in the first round of the NFL draft for the second consecutive year and the fourth time since 2006. While that makes watching tonight’s first-round festivities from Radio City Music Hall a little less interesting for Redskins fans, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Washington’s success rate with first-round picks has been better in recent years, with the 2009-12 drafts yielding Brian Orakpo, Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan and Robert Griffin III, but there have been plenty of clunkers over the years. To make you feel better about tonight, here’s a look at the Redskins’ five worst first-round picks since the merger, all of which came from 1992 to 1996.

Desmond Howard – 1992, No. 4, WR, Michigan


After winning the Super Bowl, the Redskins traded their two first-round picks (No. 6 and No. 28) to leapfrog Green Bay and select the Heisman Trophy-winning Howard at No. 4.

“This is a bonus pick,” Redskins general manager Charlie Casserly told The Post’s Richard Justice. “We shouldn’t have had the opportunity to make a move like this. I told the scouts after the trade that now it’s back to normal—we’re back at the end of the second round.”

“Charley made a bold move,” Joe Gibbs said. “You always look for guys with no holes. We looked at films forever on the top guys, and Desmond is one guy who had no holes. The farther we went, we had an idea that if we had a chance to get him, we’d try. You try to compare him with what you’d get if you stood pat, and we thought it was a good move.”

Howard had 66 catches, five receiving touchdowns, and one return touchdown in three seasons with the Redskins. His finest professional moment came with the Packers, the team Washington was worried would draft him, when he was named Super Bowl XXXI MVP.

In other D.C. sports news: The Capitals, who had a 3-games-to-1 series lead over Pittsburgh, would not finish off the Penguins. Pittsburgh came back to win the series in seven games.

Tom Carter – 1993, No. 19, DB, Notre Dame


“Quite frankly, we were very surprised that he was still sitting there when we picked,” Redskins coach Richie Petitbon told Justice. “We figured he’d be gone. This guy has all the physical ability in the world. There were a lot of good cornerbacks out there, and nothing against any of them. We felt the difference was in physical ability. That’s the number one thing.”

With 18 interceptions in four seasons in Washington, Carter wasn’t a complete bust playing opposite Darrell Green, but the Redskins let him leave via free agency in 1997.

In other D.C. sports news: The Bullets completed a 22-60 season, the franchise’s fewest wins since 1962.

Heath Shuler – 1994, No. 3, QB, Tennessee


The Redskins were originally eyeing Fresno State quarterback Trent Dilfer, but new head coach Norv Turner was enamored with Shuler’s mobility.

“This was one of the big factors in me being as interested in the job as I was,” Turner told The Post’s David Aldridge. “Having the third pick and knowing there was two good young quarterbacks out there, and the chance to start with a young quarterback and watch him develop, that’s the ultimate thing, not only for a new head coach, but any head coach.”

Shuler went 4-9 in 13 starts with Washington.

In other D.C. sports news: Wes Unseld resigned.

Michael Westbrook – 1995, No. 4, WR, Colorado


After taking a receiver with the fourth pick for the second time in four years, the comparisons to Desmond Howard were inevitable.

“Let’s let Michael Westbrook have his own career,” Casserly told Aldridge. “You have a situation where Michael Westbrook is a bigger player [than Howard] and sometimes the size factor is going to make a difference.”

Westbrook never lived up to his draft slot. During his seven seasons in Washington, he eclipsed 60 catches and 1,000 yards one time.

In other D.C. sports news: The Capitals were about to blow yet another 3-1 series lead against the Penguins.

Andre Johnson – 1996, No. 30, OT, Penn State


The Redskins had traded the sixth pick in the draft to the Rams for defensive lineman Sean Gilbert and, with veteran Jim Lachey coming off shoulder surgery, they planned to grab an offensive tackle with their second-round pick. After seven offensive linemen were taken in the first 29 picks, Washington struck a deal with the Cowboys on draft day to move up to select Johnson.

“I think everyone in the NFL knew we wanted to take an offensive tackle with our second pick and we felt we could be sitting there and get jumped for it pretty easily,” Casserly said. “The decision was let’s make the deal, get the player and then we have it done, instead of sitting there and hoping and praying the player is available.”

Washington released Johnson after he didn’t play a single down during his rookie season. He played three career games with the Detroit Lions and is considered one of the worst first-round picks ever.

In other D.C. sports news: D.C. United played its first home game. (I had completely forgotten about Jimmy Haynes.)

Scott Allen writes about all things D.C. sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.
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