For a decade, Matt Light was the Patriots’ franchise left tackle. Belichick chose Light 48th overall in 2001. Samuel was a fourth-rounder, and longtime center Dan Koppen was a fifth-rounder in the same draft. Newsome has built two Super Bowl winners, in part, by drafting standout players such as running back Ray Rice (55th overall), wide receiver Torrey Smith (58th overall) and offensive lineman Marshal Yanda (86th overall) after the first round.
For the Patriots and Ravens, their draft success is built on the foundation of stability provided by Belichick and Newsome. Under Shanahan, the Redskins finally are moving toward the best.
Before Shanahan arrived, the Redskins were a textbook example of what not to do with draft picks. With the exception of talented tight end Fred Davis and backup linebacker Rob Jackson, their 10-member 2008 class was comically bad. Shanahan’s Redskins drafts, for the most part, have been solid.
The Redskins returned to prominence because of Griffin, the NFL’s 2012 offensive rookie of the year. He’ll be the face of the league for a decade or so, assuming he can stay in the game. Although Morris, more than anyone, benefited from the attention Griffin drew from defenses, Morris was a major draft success story nonetheless.
Last season, left tackle Trent Williams, Shanahan’s first draft pick in Washington, played in his first Pro Bowl. It was a nice comeback for Williams, who missed the final four games of the 2011 season after failing multiple drug tests.
Inside linebacker Perry Riley has settled into the starting spot opposite London Fletcher. Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is a cornerstone guy. Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, wideout Aldrick Robinson — Shanahan’s picks have made an impact.
Now, Shanahan will have to be creative in reconstructing the secondary in the draft to help Griffin lead the Redskins further. Fortunately for Griffin, Shanahan has experience with this sort of thing.
For previous columns by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.