Any team that made the playoffs despite a glaring deficiency on defense — the Redskins’ secondary was among the worst in the league — can’t expect Griffin, who’s rehabbing after major knee surgery, to rescue it as often as he did last season. Factor in that the club didn’t have a selection in Thursday’s first round (part of the price to get Griffin) and made no significant additions in free agency while dealing with the two-year, $36 million salary cap reduction imposed by the NFL, and it’s clear the Redskins are relying on the remainder of the draft for a whole lot.
Beginning Friday, Washington will have seven picks, including the club’s first in the second round (51st overall). Barring trades, the Redskins also choose in the third, fourth, fifth (twice), sixth and seventh rounds. The word around the league is that defensive backfield help should be available in the middle rounds.
For the Redskins to get it right, they’ll need to uncover some draft gems, especially at safety. Strong additions at cornerback would help, and a right tackle or two with potential wouldn’t hurt. The Redskins must find those guys who slip into the later rounds because they fail to impress at the scouting combine or fall short in some measurable — but have what it takes to shine in actual NFL games. Those players are out there. They always are.
Throughout NFL history, there’s a long list of late-round picks who proved the so-called draft experts wrong. And it’s not just quarterbacks like Joe Montana and Tom Brady. Pick a position, and you’ll find effective players who missed out on the draft hype.
The New York Giants probably wouldn’t have won two Super Bowls in the past six seasons without one of the sport’s best defensive lines. Defensive lineman Justin Tuck is the group’s leader. He also was the 74th pick in 2005. Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen is another monster edge rusher who hung around late: pick No. 126 in 2004.
Despite the big bucks the NFL spends on scouting college players (we’re talking millions), the only “sure thing” in the draft is that mistakes will be made in every round. What eventually happens on the field reveals who was picked too low — and way too high. Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan has been through it all many times.
Shanahan is known for getting highly productive running backs very late in the draft. Sixth-rounderAlfred Morris was his latest find. As a rookie last season, Morris set a Redskins franchise record with 1,613 yards rushing. Morris’s surprising performance brought to mind another once-obscure sixth-rounder from Shanahan’s past: Terrell Davis.
While in Denver, Shanahan, who has had his share of misses, also drafted wide receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive end Elvis Dumervil with fourth-round picks. Shanahan doesn’t have some magic formula for late-round success. It’s just hard work.