Washington Redskins: Devin Thomas

Redskins mailbag: Part 1

May, 23, 2014
With the heavy lifting on the roster completed, the questions in Part 1 of the mailbag now turn to different topics: Mike Shanahan's philosophy regarding the offensive line; Brandon Jenkins' role; what must Brian Orakpo do to stick around? Makes for a nice variety. Enjoy.
We don’t know who the Redskins will draft; they don’t either. But here’s what we do know about players selected with the 34th pick in recent years: Almost all of them became starters. However, there’s a mixed record when it comes to how effective they were in those roles.

Of the last 10 players selected 34th overall, five will enter 2014 as starters, but only three will do so with their original team. And five of the 10 players are with the team that drafted them, though one is in his second stint. One already retired: Devin Thomas (of course). Another hasn’t played in two years.

And only two of these players have appeared in a Pro Bowl.

To give you a gauge of what to expect from the Redskins’ second-round pick, here’s a look at the last 10 selected:

2013: WR Justin Hunter, Tennessee

Note: Struggled early as a rookie, but had two strong games late in the season. Still, he finished with only 18 catches for 354 yards and four touchdowns. He reportedly added 15 pounds of needed bulk this offseason. No starts as a rookie.

2012: TE Coby Fleener, Indianapolis

Note: Fleener has proven to be an excellent choice, with a combined 78 catches his first two seasons (26 as a rookie). He caught 52 passes for 608 yards and four touchdowns this past season. It helped him going to the same team as his college quarterback, Andrew Luck.

2011: DB Aaron Williams, Buffalo

Note: Williams entered the NFL as a corner, but was switched to strong safety this past season and had a strong year. The Bills signed him to an extension this offseason. His versatility could help offset the loss of Jairus Byrd in free agency. Williams has started 30 games. He started six games as a rookie, but missed seven because of injuries.

2010: CB Chris Cook, Minnesota

Note: Signed a one-year deal with San Francisco this offseason; the Vikings were content with letting him walk and signed Captain Munnerlyn instead. Cook received a minimum deal with no guaranteed money from the 49ers. He has no career interceptions; 29 career starts. He started five games in the six he played as a rookie, slowed by injuries to both knees.

2009: S Patrick Chung, New England

Note: He’s back in New England for a second stint, having been cut by Philadelphia in March after one season. Chung has started 40 games (once as a rookie, though he appeared in 16 games), but has never wowed anyone with his play. No Pro Bowls.

2008: WR Devin Thomas, Washington

Note: Out of football. Thomas caught 40 passes in two-plus seasons with Washington and didn’t play after age 25. Started one game as a rookie, but appeared in 16 while catching 15 passes. Not exactly what the Redskins were hoping he’d do. Also played with Carolina and the New York Giants.

2007: LB Paul Posluszny, Buffalo

Note: He’s been a good player for most of his time in the NFL, having earned his first Pro Bowl berth after this past season. Posluszny spent four years with the Bills before signing a six-year, $42-million contract with Jacksonville. Limited to three games (all starts) as a rookie because of two broken bones in his left arm.

2006: LB D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland

Note: Became an instant starter for Cleveland and only left the lineup when injured during his seven seasons with the Browns. He signed with Indianapolis after Cleveland cut him this offseason. Jackson led the NFL in combined tackles in 2008. He’s never made the Pro Bowl.

2005: S Brodney Pool, Cleveland

Note: He played both safety and corner in Cleveland, though was never considered anything other than OK. He also played two seasons for the New York Jets, but has not played the past two seasons – Dallas cut him in 2012. Made no starts as a rookie and eight his second season, but spent the next four years a as a full-time starter.

2004: G Chris Snee, New York Giants

Note: He’s a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. It’s a good thing he’s done so well considering he’s also married to Tom Coughlin’s daughter. Snee also has won two Super Bowl rings. Has started every game he’s played. Safe to say this was a good choice.
They could find a solid starter, as they’ve done in the past. Or they could find players who contribute little and are out of the league before turning 26. The Redskins have found those players in the past as well.

When it comes to their recent history with second-round picks, there’s an obvious mix with some hits (Jon Jansen, Fred Smoot) and misses (2008). Some are still to be determined (David Amerson, Jarvis Jenkins).

Their last second-round pick to become a Pro Bowler was Stephen Alexander, a 1998 pick who earned a trip to Hawaii in 2000. In fact, Alexander is one of only three second-round picks by the Redskins to make the Pro Bowl since 1965 – Chip Lohmiller (1991) and Tre Johnson (1999) being the others. Of course, they’ve also had 18 seasons since 1972 without a second-round pick thanks to trades.

The good news is that Fred Davis made a postseason all-star game; the bad news is that this Davis was a third-round pick in 1941.

Anyway, here are the Redskins’ last 10 second-round picks:

CB David Amerson (2013; 51st overall)

Note: Improved as a rookie while serving as the No. 3 corner. Will open this season as the starter. Amerson did not look overwhelmed by any means and improved as a rookie, but whether he’s a quality starter remains to be seen.

DE Jarvis Jenkins (2011; 41)

Note: Jenkins has started 19 games for Washington in two seasons (missing the first with a knee injury) and done a solid job against the run, but he hasn’t developed enough as a pass-rusher. He’ll be a free agent after this season and there’s no guarantee he’ll return.

WR Devin Thomas (2008; 34)

Note: Caught 40 passes in two-plus seasons with Washington before being released. Also played for Carolina and the New York Giants, where he was a solid special-teams player. Was the first of three pass-catching picks in the second round of this draft. It was not a memorable draft.

TE Fred Davis (2008; 48)

Note: The talented Davis flashed for a couple seasons (59 catches in 2011; 48 catches and six touchdowns in 2009), but overall his career will be remembered as a disappointment. Though he was hardly the first player to have fun off the field, it wasn't a good fit for him and eventually led to him being suspended. His 2012 Achilles injury hasn’t helped, either. He remains unsigned (and will be suspended for the first four games whenever he does sign).

WR Malcolm Kelly (2008; 51)

Note: Despite concerns expressed by their own training staff about his knees, the Redskins drafted Kelly anyway. He caught 28 passes in two seasons before being released. He never played for another team. Shockingly, injuries spoiled his career. So to add it up: both he and Thomas were done playing before they turned 26.

LB Rocky McIntosh (2006; 35)

Note: McIntosh was a productive player for several seasons, both from scrimmage and on special teams. Coaches liked his toughness and desire to compete. He spent four years as a full-time starter, but was not a good fit in the 3-4 scheme and eventually lost his job to Perry Riley in 2011. He spent 2012 in St. Louis and last season with Detroit. He remains unsigned.

WR Taylor Jacobs (2003; 44)

Note: Would look good in practices, then be unproductive in games. Jacobs caught 30 passes in three seasons with Washington, then spent 2006 with San Francisco and ’07 with both the 49ers and Denver. He caught another seven passes in his career, but did not play after 2007.

RB Ladell Betts (2002; 56)

Note: He had a decent career and finished with 3,326 yards rushing, 1,646 receiving and 2,085 returning kicks. But if you’re picked in the second round, you should spend more than one season as the full-time starter. Betts was never outstanding at anything and his career long run was 27 yards. However, Betts was a good backup to Clinton Portis, who arrived in 2004. Betts shined in 2006 after Portis was hurt, rushing for 1,154 yards and averaging 4.7 yards a carry and adding 53 catches for 445 yards. As a rookie Betts was behind Stephen Davis and Kenny Watson and, in Year 2, Trung Canidate. Betts played one season in New Orleans, finishing with 150 yards rushing and 141 receiving.

CB Fred Smoot (2001; 45)

Note: If nothing else he’ll win the award for funniest Redskin ever. Though he never ate pineapples on the big island (Hawaii; Pro Bowl), as he predicted, Smoot was a solid player for the Redskins. He started 85 games in seven seasons with Washington – a tenure interrupted by two seasons in Minnesota. Smoot did not play after 2009. He did not enter with a reputation for being tough, but exited with one.

RT Jon Jansen (1999; 37)

Note: A solid starter for his first five seasons before his Achilles injury in the Hall of Fame game in 2004; he and Chris Samuels made terrific bookends. After the injury, Jansen wasn’t quite the same and lasted two more years as the starter before another injury in 2007. He was the full-time starter in ’08, but released after the season (and 123 career starts). He played for Detroit in 2009.

Quick takes: 2008 class; Hall's deal

February, 20, 2014
  • According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, DeAngelo Hall’s deal only includes $5.25 million in guaranteed money. The fact that it averages $4.25 million is meaningless considering how back loaded some deals are, leaving them unlikely to see the final years.
  • But giving him $5.25 million in guaranteed cash makes this essentially a two-year deal in terms of when you can make a move with him. If you want to, that is. As well as Hall played this past season, you always have to brace for a big drop-off with corners once they hit a certain age. But it’s not hard right now to expect him to play at a good level for the next two years. (And if they can get a Seattle-like pass rush, then his ability to play physical in press-man coverage would be enhanced.)
  • So this really isn’t a bad deal for Washington. The corner market was suppressed last offseason and I can’t imagine with the salary cap not going up much that it would change this offseason. Hall did not receive much attention in 2013, so this was a good way for him to lock up guaranteed cash. Plus, he’s always stated that he wanted to return to Washington.
  • The last I heard (a few days ago), the Redskins had not yet discussed a new deal with linebacker Rob Jackson. That doesn’t mean they won’t talk at some point. But there’s not a big rush with him because he’s not the sort of player who signs immediately in free agency. The Redskins' top priority is re-signing Brian Orakpo, so if he stays, there’s little reason to bring back Jackson (who wants to go somewhere to start). And if Orakpo somehow bolts (guys like him sign early), then Jackson likely would still be available.
  • The Washington Post reported that the Redskins want at least a second-round pick for quarterback Kirk Cousins. That sets the market, but there was zero surprise in that "demand." There was no chance a team would surrender a first-round pick for Cousins and, at this time (nearly three months before the draft), why would the Redskins give him up for a third-rounder? A second-rounder was the believed starting price all along. Just because Mike Shanahan once said he thought they might get a first-round pick for him does not mean that was the asking price. And that was before Cousins played the final three games. You can't pin everything on Cousins in those games -- just like you can't blame Robert Griffin III for all that went wrong when he played -- but Cousins did not show enough to warrant a first-round pick. A second-rounder is asking a lot and I'd have a real tough time seeing anyone at the front of the second giving that to the Redskins.
  • With Fred Davis now suspended (my initial reaction), here’s a final tally on those three second-round picks the Redskins made in 2008. Malcolm Kelly (whom the training staff told the team they shouldn’t draft because of his knees) caught 28 passes in two seasons, was placed on injured reserve for a third and then cut the following year. He never played with another team. Devin Thomas caught 40 passes in his two-plus seasons before being cut early in his third. Unlike Kelly, he played again, with Carolina and the New York Giants (winning a Super Bowl). But he caught just three passes after leaving Washington. At least Davis stuck around for a while and caught 162 passes. But he underachieved as well.
  • That’s the thing about these players: They not only underachieved here, but it’s not like they went elsewhere and prospered. I would not expect Davis, if he’s ever reinstated, to flourish with another team. For that you’d have to learn lessons and make changes.
  • What a mighty whiff of a draft class, especially with the second-rounders. Only one player from that 10-member class was an NFL starter last season – third-round offensive lineman Chad Rinehart (San Diego). And only two others were still in the NFL – Davis and Jackson. Of the other seven players, only two even played beyond 2010 (Thomas and corner Justin Tryon). That’s pathetic.
  • It could be that Jackson is the only player in that class who maximized his potential considering he was a seventh-round pick. Actually, I think it’s safe to say that was the case.
  • Just to refresh your memory, here’s the class: Thomas (2nd round), Davis (2), Kelly (2); Rinehart (3), Tryon (4); punter Durant Brooks (6), Kareem Moore (6), quarterback Colt Brennan (6), Jackson (7) and Chris Horton (7).
  • The big things to pay attention to at the combine over the next week: the physicals and the interviews. For the latter, it’s not about saying the right things for most teams, rather it’s about putting some of the players in front of the whiteboard or TV and going over plays from their college days; see how well they can explain their jobs, etc. The athletic part of the combine is designed to confirm what scouts thought of a guy from the previous six months of work.