- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION

The rest of the NFL isn’t too impressed, it seems, with the talent on the Washington Redskins‘ roster. When the NFL Network recently ranked the top 100 players in the league — according to a vote of the players themselves — only one Redskin made the list: Donovan McNabb at No. 100 (just below Packers offensive tackle Chad Clifton … and just above oblivion).

Of course, things went so badly for McNabb last year that he figures to be a former Redskin before long. It’s just a matter of finding somebody willing to take him off coach Mike Shanahan’s hands. That will leave the team with none of the league’s top 100 players as the season gets underway — putting the Redskins on a par with the Seattle Seahawks (the first 7-9 playoff club in NFL history) and the Buffalo Bills (who have started to schedule some of their “home” games in Toronto). How’s that for company?

You can debate, if you want, the merits of these rankings — just as you can argue about Pro Bowl selections (which the players also vote on). For instance, 15 defensive ends made the cut. Isn’t Brian Orakpo one of the 15 best ends in the league? (Probably.) But then, McNabb, at this stage of his career, probably shouldn’t have made it. (He was the 24th-rated passer last year.) Any way you look at it from a Washington perspective, it’s not good.

In fact, the next time Vinny Cerrato takes to the airwaves to discuss the state of his erstwhile team, he should be required to answer the following question: How come, after a decade as the Redskins‘ general manager, you didn’t leave a single player behind who’s ranked in the NFL’s top 100?

It wouldn’t be so bad if the club across the river, the Baltimore Ravens, hadn’t placed six players on the “top” squad — including Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who ranked 4-5 behind Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. (We won’t even get into the fact that McNabb has only been in town for a year and tends to be thought of as a Philadelphia Eagle.)

It also wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t two former  Redskins on the list — Champ Bailey (48), who was traded to the Broncos in 2004 for Clinton Portis; and Brandon Lloyd (58), a free agent bust here, but a Pro Bowler in Denver. So not only do the Redskins have trouble finding top talent, they have trouble hanging onto it (Bailey) and getting it to produce (Lloyd). (Granted, Portis had some fine seasons in Washington, but the last time he was one of the top 100 players was 2008.)

But then, player personnel has been biggest problem area for the Redskins during the Dan Snyder Era. The word “haphazard” comes to mind (though their efforts have been much more “hazard” than “hap”). Here’s a piece of information that might surprise you — if not knock you over: The Redskins could have drafted — or signed out of college — 10 of the top 13 players and 17 of the top 25.

Brady wasn’t taken until the sixth round in 2000, so obviously the Redskins — or anybody else — could have grabbed him before the New England Patriots did. The Redskins also could have had Lewis (1996) and Troy Polamalu (2003) if they hadn’t traded their No. 1 pick, and Reed (2002) and Chris Johnson (2008) if they hadn’t, oh so cleverly, moved down in the draft.

Also, let’s not forget, Washington chose LaRon Landry over Darrelle Revis and Patrick Willis in 2007; Carlos Rogers over Aaron Rodgers and DeMarcus Ware in ‘05; and, back when Marty Schottenheimer was steering the ship, Rod Gardner over Drew Brees in ‘01.

(I’m going to pause now so you can compose yourself. If you want to read more on this — more of the specifics — check out my blog, Daly OT. It’ll really make you cry.)

Another factoid that might interest you: Eleven of the top 100 weren’t drafted. That’s as many as were drafted in the second round. Indeed, it’s as many as were drafted in any round other than the first (57).

The Redskins, naturally, didn’t sign any of those 11 players — another of their many personnel failures. All this makes it clear why Shanahan kept trading down in the draft this year, accumulating as many picks as possible. This team needs players. Boy, does it ever need players.