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Given the Redskins' needs, drafting a quarterback would be indefensible

The Washington Post's LaVar Arrington puts on his GM hat and describes how he would approach the upcoming draft and what prospects could be good fits in Washington.

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 23, 2011; 12:09 AM

Don't do it, Mike Shanahan.

Don't give in to temptation.

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As much as you want one to help you rebuild the Washington Redskins, don't draft a young quarterback with the 10th overall pick in April's draft.

The offensive-minded coach in you initially may be drawn to one of the former college stars available. And a few of them may impress in workouts and interviews during this week's draft combine in Indianapolis.

But you're also responsible for Washington's entire football operation, so you should know better. The Redskins have too many holes (craters, actually) on defense to use their first-round pick on offense.

Washington's long search for a franchise quarterback will have to extend into the future. This draft, defense has to be the focus. It's as clear as the roads to FedEx Field before a late-season Redskins game.

In your first season as head coach, the Redskins had their worst defensive performance since 1954. Generally, it's hard to do anything in life worse than it has been done in 56 years.

Washington finished 31st out of 32 teams and ranked last for much of the season. It was a stunning drop-off for a team that had a top-10 defense eight times in 10 seasons between 2000 and 2009.

Growing pains were inevitable after you ordered the radical shift from the team's longstanding 4-3 defense to an aggressive 3-4. The total collapse, though, occurred because you didn't make the substantive personnel changes necessary to give the new scheme a chance to succeed.

No impact draft picks or free agents were added on defense. In fact, linebacker Perry Riley (fourth round, 103rd overall) was the only defensive player you drafted. Given an extended opportunity late last season, Riley proved he wasn't ready for a major role.

Selecting left tackle Trent Williams fourth overall made sense, especially considering the offensive line previously seemed like an afterthought. As a rookie, Williams showed he has the talent to become a perennial Pro Bowler. We'll soon see if he has the desire, as well.

There were many defensive players still available in the second round who would have potentially fit in well. They could have contributed last season along the defensive line and at outside linebacker, where help was definitely needed.

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