Commentary

Redskins miss the mark in the draft

Quarterback controversy inevitable in Washington; Colt McCoy must go

Originally Published: April 30, 2012
By Ashley Fox | ESPN.com

Now that the draft is over, we turn from projections to performance. Not every prospect will pan out. Not everyone will make an opening day roster.

There are 129 days until the New York Giants kick off the season against Dallas on Sept. 5. Teams and players have a lot of work to do between now and then.

As we gear up for the next phase of the offseason, here's a look at a couple of draft-related issues.

Washington created an unnecessary quarterback competition that could hurt Robert Griffin III. Mike Shanahan said he couldn't help himself when he drafted Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round, with pick No. 102 overall, on Saturday. He should have resisted the urge.

The Redskins have had 21 starting quarterbacks in the last 19 seasons. They need stability at the position. They need a clear-cut starter. It appeared that they would have that with Griffin, whom they traded up to get. And then Shanahan got cute and took Cousins, who won 27 games for the Spartans.

Maybe Shanahan can create a clear pecking order among the two, with Griffin the starter and Cousins the backup. According to NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the Redskins parted ways with John Beck on Monday morning, clearing room for Cousins. But at some point this season, Griffin will struggle. It is inevitable. And when he does, a fan base that is desperate for a winner will start calling for Cousins. They will want a 23rd starting quarterback in 20 seasons, not the chosen 22nd, and that won't help the Redskins at all.

New England and Green Bay definitely helped themselves in the draft. The numbers last season did not lie, nor did the Patriots' and Packers' draft strategy. Statistically the two worst teams in the league on defense -- New England allowed 411.1 yards per game, Green Bay 411.6 -- the Patriots and Packers each used their first six draft picks on defensive players. That hasn't happened since Indianapolis and Tennessee did it in 2002.

The Patriots helped themselves more than any team in the first round. "Super aggressive" are not words typically used to describe New England's approach to the draft under coach Bill Belichick, but super aggressive he was.

Before Thursday, the Patriots had traded down in the first round or out of the first round altogether in each of the last five drafts. But Belichick tried to rectify a wretched defense by twice trading up, selecting Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones at No. 21 and Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower at No. 25. New England then took two safeties, another defensive end and a cornerback.

Green Bay desperately needed to upgrade its pass rush and secondary. They took defensive linemen -- Southern California's Nick Perry, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy and Iowa's Mike Daniels -- with three of their first four picks, and added Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward and Maine safety Jerron McMillian.

The Patriots and Packers had big holes to fill on defense, and they certainly tried to do that.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
Troy Taormina/US PresswireCan Ryan Tannehill change the climate of poor quarterback play that has plagued Miami for over a decade?
Have you heard of Bob Griese and Dan Marino? After the Miami Dolphins selected Ryan Tannehill at No. 8 overall Thursday night, Tannehill was told that he is the first quarterback the Dolphins have picked in the first round of the draft since 1983 when they took a guy named Marino. Ever since Marino retired in 1999, Miami has been looking for his replacement, and to no avail.

The Dolphins have had quite a history with quarterbacks, good and bad.

Asked how he felt about that, Tannehill said: "It's exciting. You follow some great guys. It's definitely exciting. I don't think there's any added pressure because of that. It's completely separate time periods."

Dolphins fans probably won't agree. They've lived through Jay Fiedler, Brian Griese, A.J. Feeley, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Chad Pennington and Chad Henne, among others. Their team hasn't won a playoff game since 2000. They want a winner, and Tannehill represents the next great hope.

Colt McCoy has to go. Let's recap the offseason for McCoy: He watched as the Browns tried to trade for St. Louis' No. 2 pick so they could select Griffin, then when that pursuit failed he got tepid support from the front office. On Thursday night, McCoy watched as the Browns selected 27-year-old Brandon Weeden with the 22nd overall pick and proclaimed him the starter.

Sure, McCoy would be a serviceable backup to Weeden, and he might be "a special young man," as team president Mike Holmgren said. But Cleveland is clearly changing direction at quarterback. McCoy is well-liked in Cleveland, tough and resilient. He has had little help. The Browns tried to upgrade their offensive skill-position players through the draft. They need to give Weeden the time to develop without the pressure of having the former starting quarterback over his shoulder.

It might seem like it at the time, but not getting drafted isn't the end of the world. Want proof? In 2011, 15 players who were undrafted rookie free agents made the Pro Bowl, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Three had at least 1,000 receiving yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Four rushed for at least 600 yards. Three had at least eight sacks.

Who are these players? Only Wes Welker, Victor Cruz and Nate Washington; Arian Foster, Fred Jackson, LeGarrette Blount and BenJarvus Green-Ellis; Chris Clemons, James Harrison and Cameron Wake.

Those are big names, impact players, who never heard their name called at the draft. The odds are against the undrafted rookie free agent, but making a team and having an impact isn't out of the question. Jeff Saturday wasn't drafted, and he made five Pro Bowls as the starting center of the Indianapolis Colts. Jason Peters wasn't drafted, and he, too, has been to five Pro Bowls, and before rupturing his Achilles this offseason was considered one of the best left tackles in the NFL. Tony Romo wasn't drafted, and he holds the Dallas Cowboys' single-season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns.

So while not getting drafted stings, it doesn't have to be the end of the world.