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NFL Draft

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Mark Maske
Washington Post Sports Writer
Monday, April 25, 2005; 12:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Mark Maske took your questions and comments Monday, April 25, at Noon ET on the NFL draft.

A transcript follows.

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Mark Maske: Hi, everyone. Long time, no chat. There's plenty to discuss, so let's get going.

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Arlington, Va.: On what planet does the head coach of a NFL team leave draft headquarters to participate in a pep rally for the fans? Joe Gibbs helicoptering from Redskin Park in Herndon to Fed-Ex Field DURING THE DRAFT has to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard of! Why exactly do we wonder about the Redskins' chronic "underachievement"? The goal is to make the playoffs and win, not to preen on April 23!

Mark Maske: I don't have any problem with that if he thought it fit into his schedule. Joe Gibbs wouldn't have done it if he didn't think he had time to do it. I don't agree with the picks that Gibbs made, but I'm not going to blame it on that.

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Reston, Va.: It's obvious Gibbs doesn't like the idea of having Ramsey as a starter. Do you know why that is?

Mark Maske: He didn't draft him. He didn't make an investment in him, financially or emotionally or from a reputation standpoint. It's a very common situation around the league, really. If a player isn't "yours," you look at him differently.

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Clifton, Va.: The NFL should have a rule forcing pathetic owners like Bidwell and Snyder to sell the team if a majority of the fans in a vote vote no confidence in the owner. Why should fans have to put up with Little Danny's ego trips.

Mark Maske: There are 800 million reasons why Dan Snyder gets to run the Redskins the way he sees fit. But if you're unhappy about the draft picks that the team made, that's Joe Gibbs, not Dan Snyder.

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N.W. Washington, D.C.: Any thoughts on what the heck the Seattle Seahawks were doing with their draft picks? A center in the first round? A trade up in the second round to take a guy that no one thought would go before the fourth? It makes no sense to me.

Mark Maske: That makes two of us. If you draft a center in the first round, you're basically saying, "The rest of our team is so good, this is all we have to worry about." And if they think that, they are truly fooling themselves.

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Annandale, Va.: How long do you think Ramsey has. Is this a put up or shut up year for him? What do you think the Skins should do with Rod Gardner?

Mark Maske: The recent history of quarterbacks being drafted in the first round in the NFL says that they start by the beginning of year two, almost without exception. The most notable exception probably will be Philip Rivers next season, unless Drew Brees gets hurt. So Patrick Ramsey, basically, has one season to save his job by taking his team to the playoffs.

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Bethesda, Md.: What will become of the WR Rod Gardner trade situation now that the draft is over?

Mark Maske: Sorry, I forgot to address the Rod Garnder part of the last question, so we'll come back to it. The Redskins have made it clear they don't want the guy. They can say all they want now that they'll take him back if the right offer doesn't come along, but you would think they'd take just about anything at this point.

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Annandale, Va.: You said in your previous statement that you don't agree with Gibbs picks. What do you feel the skins should have done in the draft this year?

Mark Maske: I would have taken Mike Williams with the No. 9 pick when he was still available, and I would have taken a cornerback, like Marlin Jackson of Michigan, with the No. 25 pick. That way, the offense gets a potential No. 1 receiver. The defense gets a starting-caliber cornerback. And the team must rely on Patrick Ramsey to come through at quarterback--just as the case is now, at least for next season, but without the aid of a No. 1 receiver.

One thing: I am not saying that taking Carlos Rogers is a terrible pick. I am not saying he will be a bust. There is every reason to believe he will be a very capable cornerback. I am just saying that I would have taken Mike Williams because I think he will be a star and a legitimate No. 1 receiver, and this team lost games on offense last season, not defense. And I would not have taken a first-round quarterback who now faces the prospect of learning under one offensive coaching staff, getting to the point where he might be ready to start and win, and then starting over again with a new offensive coaching staff at some point.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: Is Hasselbeck gone? The kid has better football instincts then Ramsey -- word out of Redskins park last year that some coaches and players thought he should be the starting qb, not Ramsey or Brunell. And now the skins are just going to cut him?

Mark Maske: A team is going to take four quarterbacks to training camp. But if Gibbs is to be believed about Ramsey still being his starter for next season and about Brunell staying around, I don't know how you don't figure that Hasselbeck is the odd man out before the season, barring an injury.

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Wichita, Kan.: Forget the day one picks I thought the steal of the second day was Darren Sproles of Kansas State going to San Diego. Will he fill an immediate need at special teams and will he be the new backup to Ladanian Tomlinson?

Mark Maske: I thought it was a good pick, and part of a good all-around draft for the Chargers (of course, you should have a good draft when you have two first-rounders). He can be a situational player. They do already have a backup tailback, Jesse Chatman, that they protected in restricted free agency with the contract offer that would have gotten them a first-round pick as compensation, so that backfield is getting a little crowded. But depth is a good thing, particularly when you have one guy who's clearly the starter.

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Arlington, Va.: Does the Broncos coach retain the GM duties as well? If so, it may be time to rethink that arrangement. The Clarett pick can generously be described as a reach and none of the DBs appear to be impact players.

Mark Maske: Mike Shanahan does have total control, something that has been questioned more and more in every season he goes without winning a playoff game. I did think the Broncos had a bad draft. I didn't see the logic of using a third-rounder on Clarett when a fifth-rounder, and certainly a fourth-rounder, probably would have gotten him. They would have needed to obtain a pick in those rounds, but that can be done.

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: As much as folks have been knashing their teeth about Aaron Rogers "falling" to the 24th pick, I think this was probably the best thing that could have happened for him. He gets to work under Favre for a year or so, and then take the reigns of a great franchise. What's so bad about that!

Also, your thoughts on New Orleans taking QB Adrian McPherson in the 5th round. My husband is STILL complaining that he should have gone in the 3rd round at least (best athlete of the lot, played in the arena league, etc., etc.)

Mark Maske: The bad part is the millions and millions and millions of dollars that you lose in your rookie contract. The good part is that, as you say, it might be better for your career long-term.

I think third round would have been too high for McPherson. Even aside from concerns about the off-the-field issues in his past, you're talking about, as one GM said to me before the draft, a guy who, at the scouting combine, was a great athlete with a strong arm but an inaccurate passer who's had a significant layoff from decent competition. Certainly his skills merit a chance, and I think fifth round was about right. I wouldn't have argued too much with using a fourth-rounder, but a third is pretty high.

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Anonymous: The other day Boswell wrote this in the Post: "With the ninth overall pick, they got the man they wanted most, Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers, the player who best fit the team's needs. Perhaps as important, they avoided a far flashier but riskier pick, wide receiver Mike Williams." Have you talked to Bos? Why would he say that Williams is "riskier" ... when he's the prototype WR that the NFL looks for out of one of a top-notch program?

Mark Maske: I haven't talked to Boz. We just disagree. The "risk" associated with Williams is that he's not a speed burner. It's why the Vikings passed on him at No. 7 to go with Troy Williamson. I consider that a huge mistake. Mike Williams dominated college football. Troy Williamson didn't. To me, Mike Williams will be the better NFL player. Could I be wrong? Sure. But the teams could be wrong, too. This is an inexact science. That's why it's fun. These are knee-jerk first reactions to things that will play out over years and years.

And just giving us your first name wouldn't be "anonymous" enough for you? You're as secretive as Mike Nolan.

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Alexandria, Va.: I am surprised so many people are giving the Skins a hard time re: drafting the QB. Ramsey has yet to prove the he is THE GUY, and Gibbs has clearly shown he has some questions about the guy. Taking a young QB seems like a pretty smart move if Ramsey never really takes off. Even if Ramsey ends up being THE GUY, the we have a good problem.

Mark Maske: That would be fine if the rest of your team didn't have glaring needs. It does. This was a dreadful offensive team last season, and what has it done to get better? You could argue that the receivers are a little better or a little worse. You'd have a very difficult time convincing me that they're significantly better.

To believe that the Redskins are going to be a better offensive team next season, you have to believe that Ramsey will be a better quarterback than what they had last season and Gibbs will be a better coach (which encompasses the notion that things will come together better in year two). Are both of those things possible? Yes. But you certainly can't call them certainties, and I'm not even sure you can call them both likely--particularly now that Ramsey has received a clear vote of no-confidence from his coach, whether the coach is willing to call it that or not.

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Sunnyvale, Calif.: With 9th overall pick in the draft, why didn't the skins take a very must need and select a pass rusher at "D" end.

Mark Maske: This team generated a good pass rush last season without great pass rushers. The defensive coaching staff did a great job of scheming its way to a pass rush. Yes, I'd say a top pass rusher is still a need, but it's down the list, thanks to the defensive coaches.

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Oakton, Va.: We can debate the potential of each prospect 'till were blue in the face, but doesn't the fact that the Redskins got exactly what they wanted out of this draft mean something? They got the solid physical corner that Fred Smoot pretended to be, and they got a real intriguing QB prospect, while beating other teams who wanted to draft him (Cleveland Browns) and would have. Good execution in my book.

Mark Maske: They did exactly what they wanted to do, yes. But that doesn't mean you can't have a different opinion about whether what they wanted to do was the right thing.

Good execution, yes, but was the plan right in the first place?

And you're right. If you think they did the right thing, I probably won't convince you otherwise, and you won't convince me. There's no way of proving right now who's right. So we'll all just have to see.

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Bethesda, Md.: I saw Saraceno's column in USA Today blasting Gibbs and Snyder for that Draft Day stunt. Why exactly can't you call a spade a spade and see this for the farce it was? Do you see Belichick even heading across the parking lot to address the fans during the draft? Uh, no. I would take lessons from someone who has won three of the last four Super Bowls under the CURRENT salary-cap system.

Mark Maske: I disagree with Gibbs's picks in this draft. But there are valid reasons for the picks that he made. I simply believe there were valid reasons for doing other things.

I am certainly not going to suggest that the man is not committed to his job and not serious about his job, and that is exactly what you are suggesting. He has three Super Bowl trophies and a cot in his office to tell you that you're wrong. And don't bring up the current salary-cap system in this context, because the draft hasn't changed.

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Capital Hill, Washington, D.C.: Mike Williams will be a bust. Redskins did the right thing.

Mark Maske: Mike Tice participates in this chat?

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Silver Spring, Md.: I believe the current free agency/salary cap situation is hurting sports. Why can't the NFL adopt a new policy that allows a team resign their own free agents with little penatly against the cap? It will prevent the constant change over and allow teams to build from with-in.

Mark Maske: That has been suggested, especially when it comes to players who have been with their teams for a long time.

The flip side of that is, that's a step toward perpetuating a system whereby the good teams stay good and the bad teams stay bad. One of the lures of the NFL is that everyone starts out the season with a chance to be good, a chance to reach the playoffs and the Super Bowl. It is the anti-baseball in that regard, and the people who run the league like it this way.

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Arlington, Va.: Should the Cowboys have passed up M.Spears and taken M. Clayton WR from OU ?

Mark Maske: That's probably what I would have done, yeah, after already getting Demarcus Ware. But clearly, Parcells's goal for the draft was defense, defense, defense.

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Silver Spring, Md.: People are saying Aaron Rodgers should be excited about going to Green Bay so that he can learn under Favre. I think he should be crushed having dropped to No.24. He's not going to paid like he would at No.1, Favre's retirement is not established, and it's not like backing up Favre is some guaranteed magic wand for success as an NFL QB. What do you think?

Mark Maske: I think it was bad for Aaron Rodgers's bank account, but maybe good for his career and certainly good for the Packers. The timeline for Favre's retirement is not set, no, but he won't play forever. And there are no guarantees that Rodgers will be a solid NFL quarterback, no, but he was well, well worth the No. 24 pick in the draft. I'm not saying that Rodgers should be excited about it after the financial hit he took Saturday, but there is a little bit of a silver lining.

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Washington, D.C.: You just suggested that Gibbs won't be around long in response to the question about what the Redskins should have done. Why are you saying this when Gibbs has said numerous times that he will stay for the length of his contract? Do you have information to the contrary? And don't you think that the Campbell pick backs up his intentions to stay?

Mark Maske: I do think he'll be around for the length of his contract, if he pays attention to his body and his health allows it. But if a young quarterback starts in year two, he's probably not ready to play well and win until year three or four, unless you have a team around him like last season's Steelers, which the Redskins don't. I just think this team had bigger needs and had a chance to address them.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Mark,

Is there anything the Skins can do now to get a starting receiver? Perhaps package Gardner with Hasselback for a trade?

Mark Maske: I don't think you're going to get a starting receiver by packaging two guys that a 6-10 team doesn't want. I think the chance to get a No. 1 receiver came and went when the Redskins passed on Mike Williams.

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Mark Maske: Folks, I've got to run. Thanks for the questions, and sorry I couldn't get to all of them. It was a good, lively debate. The offseason should slow down from here so I don't know when we'll get together here again, but we'll be talking again in not too long. Everyone take care.

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