Sunday, January 30, 2011 4:15 PM
By Rich Tandler
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The Washington Redskins have the tenth pick in the upcoming NFL draft. That pick represents an opportunity. The team has a need at quarterback with the likely departure of Donovan McNabb leaving just Rex Grossman and John Beck on the roster. Should the Redskins take advantage of the opportunity of having a fairly high selection in the draft and utilize it to fill the need at quarterback? We take a look at both sides of that question in the return of the wildly popular Point-Counterpoint. PointFirst, lets get the other needs issue out of the way. Do the Redskins have other needs in addition to quarterback? Certainly, they do. But the other positions can be filled through other means. An outside linebacker can be found in free agency. You can shore up the interior of the offensive line in the later rounds of the draft. You can target a stout nose tackle with the 41st pick. Good quarterbacks, however, do not hit the free agency market. If you need one the best way to get him is in the draft and, the occasional bolt out of the blue like Tom Brady aside, the earlier you draft one the better.
CounterpointAre you recommending that the Redskins stay with the insane approach of doing the same thing over and over and hoping for different results? How has that approach of going shopping for big-time free agents and drafting offensive linemen late in the draft if at all worked out? It has led to being one of two teams in the NFCthe other is the Lions who have not played in the conference title game since the 1992 season. Forcing the selection of a quarterback with the tenth pick just reeks of the team that always gets distracted by the shiny object at the expense of the parts that build good, solid football teams. With Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen, were supposed to have grownups in charge now. PointDo the Redskins really want to take a rookie quarterback and put him behind an offensive line that allowed 46 sacks in 2010? No doubt, Trent Williams is a solid addition at left tackle. And maybe Kory Lichtensteiger can be adequate at left guard going forward. The other the spots, however, are very much up in the air, especially given the free agent status of Jammal Brown. Ive heard talk that the line improved as the year went on but the numbers dont lie. They allowed 23 sacks in the first eight games of the season, 23 in the last half of the year. Thats balance, I guess, but not the kind you want. Playing behind that line a rookie quarterback will have that deer-in-the-headlights look before November rolls around.
CounterpointLooking at sacks is meaningless unless you look at the number of pass attempts. The Redskins passed 284 times in the first half of the seasons so the QB went down 7.5 percent of the pass plays. (pass plays = pass attempts plus sacks). They passed more from the ninth game on as McNabb and Grossman combined to throw 321 times. Their sack rate in the second half of the season was down to 6.7 percent, very close to the league average of around 6.5 percent. They finished up the year fairly strong against some good defensive teams, giving up just two sacks to the Bucs, one to the Jaguars, and two to the Giants. The Cowboys did get to Grossman in his first start in over two years five times in the 14th game. You would like to have the solid wall like the Redskins had in 1991, when they allowed just nine sacks all year. But putting a rookie quarterback behind a line that is slightly below average, as the Redskins line was in the second half of 2010, is not necessarily a case of organizational or coaching malpractice. PointAgain, Ill concede that there are other needs on the team. But the quarterback need takes priority. It takes longer, often much longer, to develop a quarterback than it does any other position. They need to get the leader of the offense in place first. If they take a couple of years to build the rest of the team and then find the quarterback the Redskins and their fans are going to end up frustrated. The signal caller will be developing while the rest of the team is in its prime. By the time the QB is up to Super Bowl caliber, the rest of the team will be aging or on the free agent market. Give him his on the job training now and in a few years the Redskins will be a team with all of its players peaking at the same time.
CounterpointThat all looks good on paper and it would make sense if there was a quarterback who was worthy of the tenth overall pick, but there isnt. Andrew Luck decided to go back to Stanford to win the Heisman Trophy. Blaine Gabbert of Missouri will come out but one of the QB-hungry teams drafting in front of the Redskins will snap him up. The geniuses doing mock drafts have the Redskins taking Cam Newton or Jake Locker at tenth. Newton has some physical tools but in his one season as a major-college starter at Auburn he was asked to make one read and, if that wasnt there, run. Add some character concerns to that and you have a giant question mark and too big a gamble to take at No. 10. Locker is a great athlete but the Redskins arent looking for someone to compete in the decathlon. He demonstrated during Senior Bowl week that his upside, after a few years of intense coaching and practice, is as a competent backup. If they really need to get a quarterback in the system, they should wait until the second round and grab Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, or maybe Christian Ponder. Or they should grit their collective teeth, ride out 2011 with Rex Grossman, and find their quarterback of the future at some point in the future.
You can reach Rich Tandler by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @RealRedskins. Rich also writes about the Skins at www.RealRedskins.com.