Mark Sanchez is a no-brainer for the Washington Redskins. Not in the usual sense though. Rather, the 'Skins will have no brains at all if they decide to go for the latest in a long line of pretty-boy QBs from USC.
Every year, as draft day approaches, 'Skins fans are understandably nervous. This is because they usually have no idea what to expect from the less-than-dynamic duo of owner Dan Snyder and VP Vinny Cerrato. Will they address glaring holes in the roster? Or, will they attempt a coup and trade what few picks they have in order to move up and make the splashy, headline-grabbing type of deal that we have become accustomed to? If you ask me, the answer should be no, and if the 'Skins stick with the following blueprint, their draft will be considered a success.
Step One: FORGET about Sanchez! He will cost the 'Skins too much, they only have 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th round picks. They would most certainly have to mortgage their future to grab him, given that next year's first rounder would probably be part of the price to move up. Next, current starting QB Jason Campbell has now indicated through his agent that should the 'Skins draft Sanchez, he wants out of D.C. Regardless of who is under center, the 'Skins O-line has been woeful, and neither Campbell, Sanchez, or Joe Montana for that matter, would be able to flourish without the adequate protection that the 'Skins have been sorely lacking. Finally, this draft is very deep at positions of need for Washington. They should have the wherewithal to stick with their picks and make them count (unlike the debacle of last year's 2nd round receiver-stockpiling bonanza).
Step Two: Address SLB or DE with the 13th overall pick. There is no telling which defenders will be available to the 'Skins at 13, but the draft is deep enough that at least one starting-caliber defender within the 'Skins needs will still be up for grabs. Possible DE prospects include: Brian Orakpo, Aaron Maybin, Robert Ayers, Everette Brown, and Tyson Jackson. The 'Skins could fill in the SLB slot opposite Rocky McIntosh with: Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing, or Ray Maualuga. The Redskins should be confident that there will be plenty of talent available at thirteen, and they should pounce on one of these players with starting potential.
Step Three: Find out what its going to take to get gigantic Oklahoma OT Phil Loadholt. This guy is a truly enormous specimen; a big man even in a world of very big men. At 6'8" and 330 pounds, Loadholt can topple defenders with sheer strength alone -- and this is the reason he has not rated out highly for '09. Scouts haven't been thrilled with Loadholt because he is prone to relying on brute force rather than sound technique. As a result he is projected as a RT, which means he'd be a perfect candidate to replace the rapidly-declining Jon Jansen. Further, a tackle prospect with immense size and potential but raw skills would be a perfect pupil for Joe Bugel, the legendary 'Skins O-line guru. Here is the catch though: after the first round, the 'Skins don't draft again until the 3rd round, pick 16. This is the 80th overall pick, and there is a solid chance that Loadholt won't be available then, given that he has been projected as a late 2nd rounder. I say if there is any place in the draft where the 'Skins should try and move up a bit, it would be here. Perhaps they could package their 3rd with a 4th from this season or the next in order to take a slot in the middle of the 2nd. Simply put, Loadholt is a sleeper that will deliver a whole lot of value to the team that gets him, and given that the 'Skins have a dearth of picks and a glaring need at RT, he should be very attractive to them.
Step Four: Don't throw away any future 1st or 2nd rounders! Ever! Even though sometimes it is actually worth doing, such a move should be left to true professionals that actually know how to draft and build rosters, such as Ozzie Newsome, Scott Pioli, or Bill Polian, not Danny Boy and his pal Vinny. These guys just haven't proven themselves competent enough to go throwing around highly valuable draft picks. Here is just a sample of the Redskin's sad trade history: 3rd and 4th rounders for Brandon Lloyd, 2nd and 6th rounders for Jason Taylor, and 1st, 3rd, and 5th rounders for Jason Campbell. Lloyd and Taylor were complete busts, and the jury is still out on Campbell. Now look at what the guys who actually know what they're doing did with their draft picks: Newsome picked Adalius Thomas in the 6th round, Pioli (along with Belichick) famously picked Tom Brady in the 6th as well, and Polian snagged DE Robert Mathis, the Colts second all-time sack leader, in the 5th. The 'Skins need to value their draft picks more and hold them tight, rather than throw them around like a novice card player recklessly tossing poker chips into the pot without a clue.
The 'Skins are getting old and need depth. Not over-the-hill, overpriced depth, but a few years worth of young, talented football players acquired through the draft that can address their current needs and then develop to set them up for the future.