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Too Early to Judge the Draft

Too Early to Judge the Draft

To start out with, I have to state that it’s been my firm belief ever since I knew what an NFL draft was that it takes at least three years, probably four, to judge a draft. You have to see how the players who were selected actually play on the field for an extended period of time before you can say if the player’s performance justified the pick.

Even in the days where the analysts weren’t so plentiful and so instant, everyone ink-stained wretch out there still had to come up with an immediate judgment on what had just been concluded. These days, with so many out there calling themselves draft experts and with an ability to offer an opinion for all the world to see within seconds of a pick being made, it’s gotten truly out of hand.

That being said, there is a legitimate case that can be made for analyzing what a team was thinking about when it made a given pick, what they might do with a particular player drafted and what effect it might have on the players currently on the team. Those aspects are in the here and now.

In this draft, the Redskins shattered two myths about the team, although this will certainly not make the mainstream media change their template they have used for the past five years in their coverage of the team. First, they did not go for the big splash or the flashy player. Certainly, a move up to nab Braylon Edwards would have been a headline-maker. They passed on that move. Mike Williams would have been the sexier pick at #9, but they weren’t swayed from their convictions and took Carlos Rogers. The cornerback didn’t have as much spectacular footage as did Williams, but isn’t the whole idea of being a great cover corner to stay out of highlight films?

Second, despite what was said in this space a few days ago, they are not necessarily gunning to win now at the expense of the future. Jason Campbell may or may not become a stud NFL quarterback, but if he does it will likely be after Joe Gibbs is back in NASCAR. He made what he thought was the best choice for the future of the franchise.

There is only one legitimate argument against the selection of Rogers and that’s the presence of Williams on the board. The former USC receiver would have been a good compliment to the team’s current corps of receivers, which lacks a red-zone go-to move-the-chains kind of receiver. Apparently, Gibbs (who to repeat is the decision-maker here) believed that the hole at corner was more critical than the lack of a big receiver.

There’s a lot more room for discussion about the selection of Campbell. After a few hours of trying to digest it, I just can’t figure it out. Ramsey is a good QB prospect, perhaps a very good one, they type of signal caller that Gibbs has built into Super Bowl quarterbacks. The Skins spent a first-round pick on him three years ago. Why not make him your main guy and then take your project QB later in the draft?

It’s hard to see how Gibbs is going to spin this to Ramsey, who he says is his starter at QB. It wasn’t as though they were just sitting there at #25, minding their own business when Campbell, who they had rated as the best QB in the draft, just fell into their laps. It’s obvious that the Skins wanted Campbell enough to make the deal with Denver to get a pick where he’d almost certainly be available. And certainly you can say that it takes a quarterback a couple of years before he will be ready to start in the NFL, but that would put Campbell as being ready right in the middle of what should be Ramsey’s prime. Sure, you need two QB’s in today’s NFL, but two first-rounders?

To his credit, Ramsey came out a couple of days ago and said that it didn’t matter to him if the Skins drafted a quarterback, that he just wanted the team to do what it thought was best. In retrospect, all but the most thick-headed among us (including yours truly) probably took this as a signal that the Redskins were indeed going to take Campbell as they probably wouldn’t have let Ramsey say something like this unless it was pretty certain that this would happen.

Big Media didn’t have a very good handle on this in the past few days. Many, including the Washington Post, drank the Braylon Edwards Kool-Aid, in fact they gulped it down with great glee. Such a move would not leave them with the means to take Campbell so all but ESPN, who seemed to be circling the wagons around its writer Len Pasquerelli since he broke the story that Gibbs had visited Campbell last week, had abandoned that line for the most part.

This space had a good take on the #9, saying that Rogers would be the pick albeit with some serious qualifiers about the possibility of taking Williams if he was on the board or trading down. Again, Campbell at #25 was not on the radar screen here at all, thinking that it was either a smoke screen or just the prudent exploration of very outside possibilities.

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!