In a dazzling display of hocus-pocus, Mike Shanahan turned eight draft picks into 12 over the weekend and set to rebuilding the Redskins. Fans and observers seem high on his selections, from first-round linebacker Ryan Kerrigan on down. And on paper, certainly, the team looks much improved.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the Shanahan’s 2011 draft comes at all close to the club’s 1981 draft, the one all Redskins drafts are measured against. How good a haul did general manager Bobby Beathard have 30 years ago? Well, his draftees – and the players he acquired for some of his picks – included:
● 1 Hall of Famer (OG Russ Grimm)
● 5 Pro Bowlers (Grimm, OT Mark May, SS Tony Peters, DE Dexter Manley, WR Charlie Brown)
● 10 Starters (Grimm, May, Peters, Manley, Brown, RB Joe Washington, DT Darryl Grant, TE Clint Didier, FB Wilbur Jackson, CB Vernon Dean)
● 2 Backups (QB Tom Flick and LB Larry Kubin)
Oh, almost forgot:
● 2 Original Hogs (Grimm and May)
It was a work of art, that ’81 draft. It was Beathard’s Sistine Chapel. And it helped lay the foundation for three championship teams (1982, ’87 and ’91). What made it even more amazing was that Bobby was originally without a third-round pick, which former coach George Allen had traded away four years earlier. But he went out and got one – and a whole lot more. Here’s how he did it:
● Round 1: Traded down with the Rams from 9 to 20 and took May. Also received second- (52) and fourth-rounders (105).
● Round 2 (36): Traded to the 49ers in 1980 for Jackson. (Beathard was forced to make the deal when John Riggins decided to sit out the season in a contract dispute. Jackson led the team in rushing in ’80 with 708 yards.)
● Round 2 (52): From the May trade. Sent the pick to the Colts for Washington, who gained 1,474 yards from scrimmage in his first year with the Redskins – the most by a Redskins back in the ’80s – and was a terrific all-purpose complement to Riggins.
● Round 3 (69): Beathard exchanged his ’82 No. 1 (which turned out to be 14th overall) for this pick, plus two No. 5s (117 and 132) and an ’82 No. 2 (49 – used to select Dean, who intercepted 20 passes in his first four seasons). Who did he get at 69? Grimm.
● Round 4 (90) – Traded up with the Packers to draft Flick. It cost Beathard the fourth-rounder acquired in the May deal (105) and one of the fifth-rounders (117) that came in the Grimm deal.
● Round 4 (92): Shipped to the Browns in 1979 for Peters, a much underrated safety.
● Round 5 (119): Got Manley here. During his Redskins career (1981-89), Dexter had the second-most sacks in the NFL (91), trailing only Lawrence Taylor (104).
● Round 6 (148): Kubin, a useful special teamer and reserve linebacker.
● Round 7 (175): The Rams wound up with this pick, but I haven’t been able to determine how. If anybody finds out, please let me know. (Newspaper accounts back then could be sketchy, I’m afraid.)
● Round 8 (201): Brown, a two-time (1982-83) Pro Bowler.
● Round 9 (231): Grant, a reliable defensive tackle for nearly a decade opposite mountainous Dave Butz. In his best season, 1984, he had eight sacks.
● Round 10 (267): OT Allan Kennedy. Kennedy couldn’t make the Redskins’ roster, but he played three years with the 49ers and was part of their ’81 and ’84 title teams.
● Round 12 (314): Didier. Though Clint was listed as tight end, Joe Gibbs often split him out. His 691 receiving yards in ’86 were fifth-best among NFL TEs. (FYI: Kellen Winslow Sr. was fourth with 728.)
Beathard’s only misses were OG Gary Sayre (5/132) and WR Jerry Hill (11/284). Everybody else spent at least some time in the league. It’s the granddaddy of all Redskins drafts, the stuff of legends. If Shanahan’s 2011 efforts can top this, Redskins Nation will have something to look forward to.