Which is greater cause for celebration, that the Redskins have the 10th pick in next week’s draft or that they still have their second-round pick? I’d say the latter. For one thing, having the 10th pick usually means you aren’t very good (unless it’s somebody else’s 10th pick). For another, the Redskins have had an annoying habit of trading their second-rounders - and did again last year when they swung a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for Donovan McNabb.
How’d that work out?
In recent years, the organization has seemed oblivious to the fact that, in the salary cap era, your second-round pick is one of your best friends. You can often get a good-to-very-good player in that area of the draft, and you don’t have to pay him nearly as much as your first-rounder. Indeed, if you’re bargain hunting, the second round is a great place to look. In 2001, you could find 11 future Pro Bowlers there - starting with Drew Brees.
The Eagles took DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy in the second round. The New York Giants got Chris Snee and Steve Smith. The Dallas Cowboys haven’t struck any gold, but it’s not for want of trying. With the Redskins, though, it is for want of trying. From 2004 to 2010, a span of seven drafts, they divested themselves of their No. 2 five times - more than any other club in the league.
This is no way to run a football team, especially when you consider that the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Eagles - three model franchises - have done the exact opposite. They’ve stockpiled second-round picks instead of dumping them.
The Patriots had four in 2009, three in 2010 and are sitting with two this year (and have come away with such starters as tight end Rob Gronkowski, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer, strong safety Patrick Chung and inside linebacker Brandon Spikes). The Packers had two in ‘05, two in ‘06 and three in ‘08 (bringing them wide receivers Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, free safety Nick Collins and guard Daryn Colledge). The Eagles, meanwhile, had a pair in ‘05, ‘07 and ‘08 (enabling them to add, in addition to Jackson and McCoy, quarterback Kevin Kolb).
And the Redskins? Well, sometimes they’ve thrown away their second-round pick (see McNabb and one-and-done Jason Taylor), and other times they’ve been a little too loose with it. Did they really, for example, need to include a No. 2 in the trade for Clinton Portis - when they were already sending Champ Bailey to the Denver Broncos? For that matter, what could they have been thinking when they gave the Jets two second-rounders so they could move up and draft Rocky McIntosh?
Let’s take a look at the five second-round picks the Redskins got rid of - and who they could have drafted if they’d hung onto them:
• 2004 (41st overall, to the Broncos in the Portis deal) - Safety Bob Sanders (who went 44th - and was voted AP defensive player of the year in ‘07).
• 2005 (40th, to the New Orleans Saints for a No. 3 in ‘04 that was used for Chris Cooley) - Offensive tackle Michael Roos (41st), linebacker Lofa Tatupu (45th), free safety Nick Collins (51st), wide receiver Vincent Jackson (61st).
• 2007 (37th, to the Jets in the aforementioned package for the McIntosh pick) - Wide receiver Sidney Rice (44th), linebacker LaMarr Woodley (46th), wide receiver Steve Smith (51st), center Ryan Kalil (59th).
• 2009 (44th, to the Miami Dolphins for Taylor) - Running back LeSean McCoy (53rd), offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (58th), wide receiver Mike Wallace (84th).
• 2010 (37th, to the Eagles for McNabb) - Free safety Nate Allen (who Philadelphia happily took at 37), tight end Rob Gronkowski (42nd), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (54th), quarterback Colt McCoy (85th).
Obviously, I’m cherry-picking here. The Redskins could have selected thoroughly ordinary players in those spots. I’m not trying to minimize the contributions of Portis and Cooley, either. But as a wise man once said: You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.
Three years ago, Vinny Cerrato reversed field and, for once, loaded up on second-round picks - three in all (in part by trading out of the first round). It backfired on him, though, when he wound up with Devin Thomas, Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly - with such talents as DeSean Jackson, Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles available.