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Teams should gladly give up first-round picks for proven wideouts

Peter Warrick. Travis Taylor. Sylvester Morris. R. Jay Soward.

David Terrell. Koren Robinson. Rod Gardner. Freddie Mitchell.

Donte’ Stallworth. Ashley Lelie. Javon Walker.

Charles Rogers. Bryant Johnson.

Reggie Williams. Michael Clayton. Michael Jenkins. Rashaun Woods.

Troy Williamson. Mike Williams. Matt Jones.

Ted Ginn. Dwayne Bowe. Robert Meachem. Craig Davis.

Darrius Heyward-Bey.

The names become a blur of mediocrity and unfulfilled potential. Each are receivers who were first-round picks in the past 10 drafts. None ever performed like Brandon Marshall, Miles Austin, and Vincent Jackson.

We mention those three because any one of these restricted free agents can be had via a first-round pick (and, for Austin and Jackson, a third-round pick, too). The same first-round picks that over the past decade have become players like Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, and Reggie Williams.

So why not view Marshall, Austin, or Jackson as a player who was obtained via a first-round pick? That’s what the Vikings did two years ago when acquiring defensive end Jared Allen from the Chiefs, and the Vikings presumably have no regrets.

It’s therefore no surprise that the Seahawks are bringing in Marshall on Saturday, and we wonder how long it will be before Austin and Jackson are courted by other teams that need pass-catches.

The logic applies to all positions. Why take a chance on a rookie who might never become anything other than a guy who once was a great college football player? If the goal is to use the draft pick to get a good player, it makes more sense to use the draft pick on a player that we already know will be good.

The argument gets stronger for teams picking lower in a given round. If Colts president Bill Polian thinks his offensive line needs an upgrade, he should present an offer sheet to Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill. Polian would get a quality linemen in exchange for the 31st and 93rd picks in the annual NFL crapshoot.

Throw in the poison pill, which if done properly makes it impossible (or, more accurately, ridiculously expensive in terms of guaranteed money) for the current team to match the deal.

Before citing the reality that this year’s crop of rookies is deeper and more talented than in past seasons, there still will be plenty of busts. And no one knows who’ll they’ll be.

Given that reality, the safest move is to use those picks on guys who have already shown that they are capable of making the transition to the highest level of the game.

Especially in an offseason with a depleted crop of unrestricted free agents.