- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Washington Redskins have the 13th pick in this weekend’s NFL draft, but there’s not much evidence to go on as to whether that’s good news or a scary prospect.

Under Dan Synder’s ownership, receiver Rod Gardner (2001, No. 15) and cornerback Carlos Rogers (2005, No. 9) were the players selected closest to No. 13. Gardner had 2,997 yards receiving and 22 touchdowns in 64 games with the Redskins. Rogers has started 41 games. Although reliable, Gardner wasn’t a star, and Rogers has just six career interceptions.

In contrast, NFC East rivals Dallas (linebacker DeMarcus Ware) and the New York Giants (tight end Jeremy Shockey) have both selected Pro Bowl regulars in the middle of the first rounds of the past eight drafts, while Philadelphia did so with the 26th pick (cornerback Lito Sheppard). The Cowboys also scored with top-10 picks in cornerback Terence Newman and safety Roy Williams as did the Eagles with defensive tackle Corey Simon.

Those differences help explain why the Redskins (58-70 during those eight seasons) have trailed the Eagles (81-46-1), Giants (73-55) and Cowboys (66-62) in the division since 2001.

But Snyder and executive vice president Vinny Cerrato haven’t always failed to score big. They have a fine record at the top of the draft with Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington (2000, No. 2), Alabama offensive tackle Chris Samuels (2000, No. 3) and Miami safety Sean Taylor (2004, No. 5) - who have combined for 11 Pro Bowl selections with the team.

LSU safety LaRon Landry, whom the Redskins took sixth overall in 2007, has yet to prove worthy of that lofty status, but he has started every game in his career.

Rogers, Taylor and Landry were all drafted during Joe Gibbs’ second Washington tenure, when the Hall of Fame coach had the final say on personnel, though Snyder and Cerrato still had considerable input.

Snyder and Cerrato ran the draft in 2002 and 2003, when Steve Spurrier was coach, and again last year after Jim Zorn replaced Gibbs. The Redskins didn’t have first-rounders in 2003 or 2008 and used the final pick of the round in 2002 on quarterback Patrick Ramsey. The Tulane product started 24 games for Washington, but Gibbs replaced him with veteran Mark Brunell in 2004.

The Redskins selected Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell 25th in 2005 with a pick Gibbs acquired from the Denver Broncos for his 2006 first-rounder and two lower picks. Brunell’s deterioration forced Gibbs to play Campbell in the 10th game of 2006. Campbell has started since except for a three-game absence with a knee injury. But since Campbell has posted a career 80.4 passer rating, Snyder and Cerrato shopped him this month while trying to acquire quarterback Jay Cutler from the Broncos.

What has killed the Redskins, however, is the performance of the players taken by Snyder and Cerrato after the first round. That’s a major concern this year - after picking 13th, Washington has just one selection (No. 80) until No. 150.

While the Cowboys (14 starters), Eagles (16) and Giants (16) have discovered big-time talent after the first round since 2001, the Redskins have landed just one star (tight end Chris Cooley).

The Redskins’ ratio of picks to starting seasons (52 to 43) from those eight draft classes doesn’t differ much from the Cowboys (59 to 55), Giants (58 to 52) and Eagles (68 to 60). However, picking fewer players - two fewer a year than the Eagles - and not hitting on most of them has left the Redskins behind. And with just five selections in this weekend’s draft, that scenario likely won’t change for the Redskins in 2009.

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