Sometimes I look like a genius. This piece is from a year ago. Take a look: It’s never fun to whiff on talented players, especially when they end up on a division rival. However, “whiffing,” “draft,” and “Redskins” has a familiar ring to it. Let’s revisit the 2008 NFL draft.
If you want to win in the NFL, it’s essential to draft well on a consistent basis. The cornerstone(s) of nearly every successful franchise comes from the draft (i.e. Tom Brady, Sydney Crosby (Yuck), Derek Jeter, Tim Duncan, etc, etc…). While this is not a secret, the Washington Redskins have found a way to ignore this truth since owner Daniel Snyder took over the team. His devastating personnel decisions have been documented and ridiculed many times over. I won’t waste my time, or yours, kicking a horse that is way beyond dead. I will, however, take a quick look at one specific scenario in the 2008 NFL draft, and the affect it’s had on two NFC East franchises.
Heading into the 2008 draft, both the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins were in the market for wide receivers. The Redskins needed to look for youth at a position that, beside Santana Moss, featured the overrated Antwaan Randle El and the immortal James Thrash. The Eagles needed to upgrade their receiving corps for the umpteenth year in a row. The draft was stocked with athletic wide receivers, but none stood out as an overwhelming first round talent.
After no receivers were taken in round one, both the Eagles and Redskins would have an opportunity to improve their position of need. The Redskins selected WR Devin Thomas with the 34th overall pick. Thomas was highly regarded as one of the top (if not THE top) receivers in the class. The Redskins picked again at 48 and selected a tight end out of USC (Fred Davis). With the very next selection, the Eagles drifted from their notoriously conservative personnel philosophy. They selected a controversial receiver out of California University, DeSean Jackson. Two picks later, the Redskins selected another receiver, Malcolm Kelly, from Oklahoma.
Generally, it’ll take 3-5 years to realistically assess a draft class. For the sake of this post, we’re going to draw conclusions based upon the 1.5 seasons we’ve seen of these particular players. For those of you that don’t know, DeSean Jackson is good. His career stats currently look like this: 88 receptions, 1,442 yards, 16.4 yards/catch average, and 6 TDs. If you include his rushing and return statistics, Jackson’s accumulated over 2,000 yards and 10 TDs. The combined statistics of the Redskins’ Thomas, Davis, and Kelly aren’t quite as impressive: 53 receptions, 462 yards, 2 TDs.
The Redskins had two opportunities to select Jackson before he was chosen. They passed on both occasions for other offensive players, one at the same position. As I mentioned, it’s unfair to judge a draft after only one full season, but DeSean Jackson is far and away the best receiver in the 2008 class. Granted, the Redskins weren’t the only team to pass on Jackson, but they’re in the same division and have to deal with their mistake twice a season. While Thomas, Davis, and Kelly may develop into contributing players at some point, the Redskins are struggling offensively because they lack playmakers. A better draft performance would have netted them the most electrifying player of the 2008 class (apologies to the Titans’ Chris Johnson).
If you watch the Redskins, they’re a mess. As is the case in Washington, poor draft selections can, and will, cripple a franchise. Unfortunately for the Redskins, an undersized, controversial receiver from Philadelphia reminds them of this twice a year.
Originally posted November 11, 2009.