By Mike Wise
Thursday, April 22, 2010; D03
Sam Bradford might inexplicably fall to No. 4. Washington could always trade for someone to protect Donovan McNabb's blind side. And with the wild cards Mike Shanahan has already dealt this offseason, the Redskins could up and trade the pick.
But they won't.
I take no great pleasure in ending the D-day suspense. But they are going to take Trent Williams or Russell Okung, both proven offensive linemen in college. Given that Okung may go to Detroit at No. 2, I'm banking on Williams to take Chris Samuels's old job. The Redskins will do this with the fourth pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.
It's a no-brainer and will set in motion some of the most odd happenings in Washington:
The fan base will of course be ecstatic, because it means McNabb might be able to stay more upright than Jason Campbell.
The draftniks will hail the selection as finally addressing a major need that has been overlooked for too long in Washington.
Next, a smiling Shanahan and Bruce Allen will speak authoritatively about the first No. 1 pick as a general manager-coach duo.
And all of this will ruin everything.
No one will complain.
No one will accuse Daniel Snyder of telling the brain trust what to do.
Vinny Cerrato won't be blamed before the pick is made.
Just bliss. Offseason bliss.
What happened to the good, old, chaotic days, when the criticism and the second-guessing began before the draft was a day old?
The way things are going with this new regime in Ashburn, it appears the Redskins are going to continue to show financial restraint, finding motivated players in old heads and guys coming off injury and signing them to contracts that are more sensible than outrageous.
Allen actually went to the microphone this past week and was amazingly transparent for a GM. He said he would "attempt" not to lie.
That whole "We're Going After a Quarterback With Our Pick" angle, the story that gained traction earlier this week? It's a smokescreen. Or scare tactic.
If you wanted to ensure Donovan McNabb signs a long-term deal instead of sticking around for one year and bolting for Minnesota, why not pretend you actually want Bradford for the long haul?
Genuine subterfuge. What a concept.
Scouting due diligence.
Drafting by need, not by name.
This is so foreign, so un-Ashburn-like, no?
Heck, even the deposed GM thinks they're going to take an offensive lineman. Cerrato said as much while going over his top 10 mock draft on the radio Wednesday.
I know. Most of you out there are saying, "Hold up, Vin Dog. Now you tell us to take an offensive lineman? That's like showing up at your 10-year reunion and telling a two-time divorcee with four kids, 'I had a crush on you senior year.' You're a decade too late. It does no one any good now."
Nonetheless, Vinny can see the trees through the forest now, how and why Carlos Rogers was drafted before DeMarcus Ware. Everything makes sense in hindsight. And don't forget, he drafted Brian Orakpo.
Which brings us to the roll of the dice of the draft in general.
Mel Kiper Jr. can call it a cottage industry all he wants; I think he and 15-year-old Todd McShay are making it all up.
Here's the deal: We don't know who's going to be good now. We don't know who's going to be next week. And neither do the experts.
After all the spreadsheets and character checks and chatter about 40-yard-dash split times, Wonderlic scores and "measurables" -- because heaven forbid if you don't have good "measurables" -- Tom Brady was passed on about five times each by 31 teams, including the New England Patriots, before they finally plucked him in the sixth round.
Shanahan knows the unpredictable nature of this time of year as well. He didn't win two Super Bowls because of John Elway alone. In fact, a lot of people would give Terrell Davis, another sixth-round pick, just as much credit for those two Lombardi Trophies.
Who more than McNabb knows the draft is a crapshoot? Remember Eagles fans booing McNabb on the day he was drafted? Those knowledgeable football people wanted another guy instead of a franchise quarterback that day. Think Ricky Williams takes them to the NFC championship game once?
Some of the most prepared teams and well-researched experts in the NFL furiously debated who should go No. 1 in 1998, torn between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf. One guy is now in the Greatest QBs Ever conversation. The other recently told the L.A. Times's T.J. Simers that he is the biggest bust in NFL draft history, Tony Mandarich included.
So forgive me if I don't get all worked up over the very imprecise science of heaping greatness on the kids selected the next three days.
All I know is the Redskins better come away with a very good offensive lineman or a batch of picks with the fourth overall selection, because the only certain thing about NFL draft history is this: When you have one of the top five picks, you better get it right.
If you don't, you're going to wind up there again.