Saturday, April 30, 2011, 1:01 p.m. UPDATED 9:59 p.m.
By Ryan OHalloran
As the Redskins started Thursday with eight picks and only two in the top 100, it appeared the NFL Draft would not be an ideal avenue for Mike Shanahan to improve his second Washington roster.
But Shanahan ended the proceedings Saturday night with 12 selections the most for the franchise since 1985 and confident the Redskins are deeper at several positions.
Even if they didnt take a future starting quarterback. Shanahan all but endorsed John Beck in his post-draft briefing.
The Redskins made nine picks in rounds 4 through 7 and created competition at running back and receiver. The final haul was three receivers, two running backs and linebackers and one defensive end, free safety, cornerback, nose tackle and guard apiece.
We got a lot of additional picks, 12 quality players, and we got better as an organization, Shanahan said.
The draft completed, the Redskins and every other team would usually focus on the undrafted-free-agent crop, but the lockout restarts tomorrow, preventing any transactions. Shanahan and Co. now wait until a resolution and the beginning of free agency.
Hopefully, something will be done quickly and we can get together, he said. Im keeping my fingers crossed that its sooner rather than later. All we can do as a coaching staff is get ready to go.
On Thursday in the first round, Shanahan was ready to trade down from the No. 10 spot and found a partner in Jacksonville. The Redskins moved to No. 16 and added a second second-rounder, which paved the way for four additional trades.
The Redskins started Saturday with a trade, which also began Nebraska Day. For the first time in 36 years, the Redskins drafted three players from the same school. Added were running back Roy Helu (No. 105), free safety DeJon Gomes (No. 146) and receiver Niles Paul (No. 155).
The Redskins traded three picks to Houston to move up 22 spots in the fourth round (they also received a pick) to draft Helu, whose running style could be a good fit for Shanahans scheme.
He brings something we havent had speed, said Shanahan, who had success in Denver with mid-to-late-round picks Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary.
Helu (1,147 and 1,245 yards rushing the past two years) was keenly aware of the Redskins running back depth chart.
With Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams Im ready to go and compete, he said.
Also joining the running back mix was Fairfax native Evan Royster (No. 177), who is Penn States all-time leading rusher with 3,867 yards. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry and scored 29 touchdowns.
Just a natural runner, Shanahan said. When he was there to draft, I felt very fortunate. I think we got an excellent back that will come in here and compete for a starting position.
Said Royster, who prepped at Westfield: I think I had the most contact with the Redskins leading into the draft, and it was the team I was hoping for.
The incumbent running back group is led by Torain and Williams, but neither has done it for half a season, much less a full season.
In between Royster and Helu, Gomes and Paul were added.
Gomes was second on the Huskers with 99 tackles last year. Hell play free safety and also cover the slot in sub packages.
In his background, Paul (103 passes and a combined 137 puntkick returns) has a reckless driving plea and an incident where he was ticketed for minor in consumption and public urination. The Redskins spoke at length to Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and his staff.
I dont think you have to worry about any character issue with him, Shanahan said. First-class young man, talking to the head coach, position coach, I feel very good about him.
Paul credits his teammate Helu for helping him mature.
I really look up to him as a brother because he got me back on the right track, Paul said.
After Royster, the Redskins took SMU receiver Aldrick Robinson (No. 178), Boise State cornerback Brandyn Thompson (No. 213), Florida guard Maurice Hunt (No. 217), Florida State linebacker Markus White (No. 224) and West Virginia nose tackle Chris Neild (No. 253).
Youre not going to address everything through the draft, Shanahan said. What we tried to do today is get better and we helped our football team in a lot of different areas.
Contact OHalloran at firstname.lastname@example.org.