Sunday, April 1, 2012

Looking Back at the Redskins 2009 Draft

Don't ever believe the grades that draft "experts" give you after a draft. This includes Mel Kiper, the guys at CBSSports and even a draftnik like myself. Those grades don't reflect what the players will do with a team, what they'll do in the league and whether it was a good draft or a bad draft for that team. All these grades suggest is whether a team picked a player higher than they should have based on predictions and research and whether that team used the draft to address weaknesses on the roster.

The truth is that you don't really know how good a draft really was until about 3-4 years after it happened. By then you can eliminate players who will have a great rookie campaign but flounder afterwards, players who are late bloomers and who is out of the league because of some issue like an injury or legal issue. So after three seasons 2009-2011, let's look back at the Redskins 2009 draft.

This was the last draft of Vinny Cerrato and as usual it is very telling. Cerrato drafts, or drafts that at least slightly involved Cerrato tended to be somewhat strong in the early rounds, terrible in the mid-rounds and have one surprising player who contributes in a later round. Also as usual, the Redskins lacked a 2nd round pick in the horrible trade for Jason Taylor (more or less, the 'Skins rented Taylor for 1 year and Taylor was hurt most of that year). They also lacked a 4th round pick for a trade for Pete Kendall (a better trade that gave the Redskins a solid starting Guard for a few seasons). So, let's look at the 2009 draft class and see if Vinny Cerrato did anything for the Redskins with his final draft for the team. Grades are based on what the player did with the Redskins more than what he's done for other teams.

1st Round (13th Overall) Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB
As the story goes, the Redskins lucked into getting Brian Orakpo, here's the breakdown of how he got to the Redskins. More or less you can thank the Browns for trading with the Jets and the Bills for making a poor choice. On top of that, be glad Mike Shanahan wasn't the Denver HC at the time of the draft. Vinny was willing to trade up with Denver (12 overall) to get Orakpo and Denver told him no thanks.......that he was going to get his guy.

As for 'Rak, well let's be honest and by saying that we'll look at both his goods and bads.
Orakpo is clearly a everyday starter. He's a multiple Pro Bowl player (2) and I believe he has led the team in sacks every year he's been in DC. He's one of the core components of the defense and I really believe Shanahan was motivated to go with a 3-4 to play towards his strengths. He has struggled with pass coverage (although looked better in 2011 compared to 09-10) and is not the best run stuffer off the edge. I would put him in a tier below a DeMarcus Ware but Ware is one of the better players in the game at the 3-4OLB position.

Final Thoughts: Of the 6 LBs drafted in the 1st round that year, at worst Orakpo is the 3rd best (behind Cushing and Matthews) but I think you can make a fair argument that Orakpo has and could have the best career of the bunch.
Grade: A

3rd Round (80th Overall) Kevin Barnes, CB/FS/ST
In his rookie season, Barnes was used sparingly if hardly at all. In 2010, Barnes played a combination of nickle, dime and FS positions and seemed to be a better fit as a FS than a cornerback. Had one key interception against Jacksonville. In 2011, Barnes was the nickle corner but struggled at times and was benched on occasion for Byron Westbrook and rookie Brandyn Thompson.

Final Thoughts: I think the Redskins have concerns about his future on the team. Can he be the #3 corner or will Cedric Griffin or Brandyn Thompson (or a possible draft pick) play for that job? Can Barnes be converted to FS if he's not fit to be the #3 CB?
Grade: C

5th Round (158 Overall) Cody Glenn, LB/ST
Cut by the Redskins at the end of training camp. Signed with the Colts for 2 seasons ('09-10). Out of football in 2011. Is currently on the Raven's roster.

Final Thoughts: Never played a single regular season down with the Redskins. Has made a career as a ST player and a reserve for other teams.
Grade: F

6th Round (186 Overall) Robert Henson, LB/ST
Played in 6 games and recorded 2(?) tackles with the Redskins. Was injured in pre-season 2010 and placed on IR. Waved by the Redskins in Aug. 2011.

Final Thoughts: Henson looked good in the pre-season and in the game against the Cardinals where he was injured. He may have been a solid reserve/ST player had it not been for the injury and the NFL lockout. Maybe he'll return to football one day......
Grade: Incomplete

7th round (221 Overall) Eddie Williams, FB/RB
Never played a single regular season snap with the Redskins. Not sure how much he played in pre-season either.

Final Thoughts: Can't remember if he was injured or just never used.
Grade: F (Incomplete if it was injury related)

7th Round (243 Overall) Marko Mitchell, WR/ST
Had 4 catches for 32 yards in 2009. Has bounced around a few teams but never making team for long. Out of league.

Final Thoughts: At least had some production for 1 year.
Grade: D

Final Analysis: You can't build a franchise without young talent. This draft just shows how poor an evaluator Vinny Cerrato was at least when it comes to putting players on a team for the current coaching staff. In 2009, the Redskins had very little to put on the field from this draft. Brian Orakpo did take over the SOLB position but not much else by the other players. Three years later and the Redskins only have two players remaining from this draft and by the end of training camp possibly one. It goes to show that the Redskins FO was terribly flawed primarily through the efforts of Cerrato (it seems that the Redskins have done much better with Allen/Shanahan at the helm with the same FO personnel). Looking back at this draft almost makes you think that the Redskins would have been better off trading picks than trying to use them. That said, the fact that the Redskins traded so many picks made them have to be perfect on their picks because of the lack of talent they could draft. Obviously, they weren't.

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