Washington Redskins: Fred Smoot

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.
The quote that catches the eye, naturally, is about Sean Taylor. That's the emotional one, the one that reminds anyone of his lasting impact, more than six years after his death. Safeties grew up idolizing him, both from his days at the University of Miami, and his too-short tenure with the Washington Redskins.

Taylor's memory will be at the Super Bowl with Seattle's Kam Chancellor. He's a Virginia native who played for Virginia Tech. (He was in college at the time of Taylor's death; in case you missed it, there was news regarding his killer Thursday.)

Here's what Chancellor told the Seattle Times earlier this month about Taylor:

[+] EnlargeKam Chancellor
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY SportsSeattle's Kam Chancellor patterned his game after that of former Redskins safety Sean Taylor, who was killed in 2007.
“Before every game I always watch his highlights, just the way that he approaches the game. The physicality that he brings to the game. He's a big safety, he can run, cover, unfortunately we don't have him now may he rest in peace, but that's a guy that I always try to simulate my game after, and I also watch Earl Thomas. Believe it or not that's a guy beside me that goes hard all of the time, so little things from his game that I try to put into my game are making me a better player.”

Chancellor has patterned his game after Taylor's for a long time. Like Taylor, Chancellor is a big safety. When Taylor was in the secondary group, he looked like a linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds. He was an intimidating force in the secondary, though he was best as a playmaking free safety. Chancellor is a strong safety capable of damage in the box. At 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, his size and instincts allow him to be highly effective in this area.

“He was a big safety, the prototype guy for the position,” Chancellor once told the Roanoke Times about Taylor. “I'm a big safety, too, and I've just always wanted to be just like him. I don't necessarily say I can be Sean Taylor before it's over, but I think I can be just as good.”

“When I first took the job, I hadn't seen anybody that big, that fast, that athletic since Sean Taylor,” Seahawks defensive assistant Marquand Manuel, a former NFL free safety, told Seahawks.com.

Amazing to think that Chancellor was a fifth-round pick. Again: draft and develop. Chancellor has a skill that Seattle has allowed him to unleash. And often times that skill results in violent collisions against players such as San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis.

Obviously the Redskins could use such an enforcer in the back end. But there's another quote from Chancellor that caught my eye. This, too, is something the Redskins need. And it's something they haven't had enough of because of injuries and bad personnel decisions.

Here's Chancellor's quote on the Seattle secondary:

“I think it started clicking a lot more this year. I think it was starting to happen towards the end of last year, but this year sometimes man it's like we don't even say anything, but the movements are just right. It's like you can feel one another out there on the field, or out here at practice, especially with me and Earl with the way that we funnel the ball to each other. We always talk about that. We always talk about both of us running to the ball. If you miss it, I'm going to make it. If I miss it you're going to make it. That's just the mentality we have.”

It's not one Washington has had in recent years. It's a subtle, but huge difference. If a corner knows how a safety likes to play a certain look, he can adjust his coverage accordingly. If the free safety knows what to expect from the strong safety, he can compensate. It's not always about scheme. Could Phillip Thomas develop into such a player? No idea; we barely saw him last summer. Could Bacarri Rambo? I'd be shocked if that happens based on what we saw this season, especially late in the year.

This isn't about finding the next Sean Taylor. He wasn't hard to identify when he first came out; anyone could see his talent. Chancellor is not Sean Taylor, and was not expected to be coming out of college considering where he was drafted. But he developed into a Pro Bowl player. But Seattle also had a clear vision in what it wanted from its defensive backs: big, physical corners and punishing safeties. Earl Thomas is more a ball-hawking safety, but he's the best at his position right now.

The Seahawks have a secondary that everyone would want now. They also have a defensive front that complements this group. The Redskins had it in 2007 with Taylor, corners Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot and rookie strong safety LaRon Landry. They need to find a way to get that back. It's great that they have money to spend, but there are other ways to accomplish this goal. And doing so would help the Redskins not only return to respectability but, perhaps, finally stick around.

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