Redskins fall in line with sensibility by choosing Trent Williams in 2010 NFL draft

Scenes from Redskins Park, where washington introduced its top selection, Trent Williams, and from New York's Radio City Music Hall, site of the NFL draft.
By Thomas Boswell
Friday, April 23, 2010

The Redskins didn't trade Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Jason Campbell and all their draft picks in 2019 for Sam Bradford.

The team that, for a decade, has lived to make headlines, even if it didn't always win games, did not trade up, trade down or stand on its head with the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft, either.

Instead, at last, the Redskins acted like a well-run pro franchise, not a fantasy-league team operated by an impulsive marketing-driven owner and a general manager sidekick always eager to read the boss's preferences.

As 99 percent of the Washington metro area exhaled, the Redskins filled their most desperate need -- left tackle -- with 315-pound Trent "Silverback" Williams of Oklahoma, an exceptional physical talent who is remarkably graceful for an offensive lineman and capable of a 4.8-second 40-yard dash.

In doing so, they bypassed Russell Okung of Oklahoma State, who could lift more weight and had better college work habits and, perhaps, superior technique. But a tackle such as Williams, who looks agile enough to play tight end if there were a higher league than the NFL, screamed "more potential." So, the Redskins gambled on that promise.

"There are not many athletes who are 315 pounds and run a 4.8 40-yard [dash]," said Coach Mike Shanahan, addressing the media alone at a Redskins lectern that has, at times, been overcrowded at drafts. "A very agile offensive tackle is something we look for and is hard to find unless you have a first-round pick. You're looking for speed and quickness in a zone blocking scheme. Now we get to see if Trent can do it."

If not at left tackle, Williams also has played right tackle and center and, according to Shanahan, could be a guard, too. Why care about that? Because in the last 30 years, more than half of all linemen taken in the top five picks in the draft have never made even one Pro Bowl -- those NFL all-star games that more than 100 players make every year. So Williams's versatility increases the chances he will be a great player somewhere, though left tackle is certainly where the Redskins pray he ends up.

"Trent is penciled in at left tackle" in the beginning, said Shanahan, who hopes that he will develop "as fast as a rookie as Ryan Clady did in Denver."

What a relief. The first day of the NFL draft has passed and the Redskins have retained not only their sanity but continued a logical, sensible offseason that reinforces the impression that Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen have begun an era of responsible stewardship of the Redskins.

Will there be desperate dealings so the Redskins can trade somebody, anybody, to get a second- or third-round pick Friday? Or will they be forced to sit on their hands for a whole draft day?

"We got our second-round pick. It's Donovan McNabb," said Shanahan, with his ambiguous half-smile. "We're not going to give up the farm to get a second-round draft pick."

So, if you dreamed of getting Haynesworth, with only $9 million over three years left guaranteed on his contract, away from the Redskins, you may have already missed your shot. Looks like a first-round pick may have been the theoretical asking price.

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