Monday, April 5, 2010

Donovan McNabb, but...

Donovan McNabb, 33, is now a Washington Redskin. In return for the 12-year-vet, Philly will receive D.C.'s second rounder (37th overall) and next year's third or fourth rounder depending on McNabb's performance this season.

Was the first major step of the Shanahan/Allen era constructive?

Aaron Schatz's take:
McNabb isn't as much of an upgrade as people might think, and his ability to improve things is severely limited unless Washington can fill some of its other holes. And in a couple of years, Washington fans might look back on this as yet another example of the Redskins making a big move for a veteran on the downside of his career. The difference is the Redskins are getting McNabb earlier in his decline compared to those other guys.
I have mixed feelings on how well McNabb fits Shanahan’s scheme. Shanahan stresses accuracy and great anticipatory passing. I don’t consider either being McNabb's strengths. Plus, those three running backs [Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker] aren’t big assets in the passing game and they don’t have any resemblance to Brian Westbrook, whom McNabb has had as a safety valve out of the backfield for the majority of his career... There will be a learning curve.
By acquiring Donovan McNabb for a second-round draft choice in 2010 and a third- or fourth-rounder in 2011, the Eagles may have given Redskins owner Daniel Snyder the short-term tool to move ahead of the Eagles in the NFC East race. In a quarterback-driven league, the Redskins should be able to finally score enough points to not just be a wild-card playoff contender, but to be a division winner.

I'm going with Clayton. Although their numbers where very comparable last year, I must admit the acquisition of McNabb is an upgrade over Campbell going into the 2010 season. McNabb was a proven winner in Philly despite fair-weather fans, unwarranted criticism, head-case teammates, questions of race, and the lack of a legitimate #1 receiver excluding T.O. in 2004.


How can a team with the league's oldest roster entering last season and arguably the league's worst offensive line be willing to give away any of its five draft picks, let alone its second rounder?

The 37th overall pick is essentially a late first-rounder seeing that playoff teams aka teams that draft later in the first round generally draft for need rather than best player available. As a result, first-round talent generally trickles into the beginning of the second round like a LeSean McCoy in 2009; a Curtis Lofton, DeSean Jackson, or Ray Rice in '08; or even a Rocky McIntosh in '06.

Just look at the players toward the bottom of ESPN Scouts Inc.'s top 32: OT Anthony Davis, S Taylor Mays, DT Jared Odrick, RB Ryan Matthews, and OLB Sean Weatherspoon. Those players could easily be available early in the second round and Washington has a need at all five of those positions. But, after their fourth overall selection, they won't draft again until 99 picks later in the fifth round (103 overall).

Pundits such as Matt Mosley have already predicted the trade for McNabb eliminates the possibility and/or need for drafting Bradford or Clausen with the fourth overall selection. Therefore, Shanahan/Allen will draft OT Russell Okung out of Oklahoma State to solve all of Washington's offensive line problems.

Success, right?

But what happens if McNabb struggles behind Washington's patchwork offensive line and refuses to re-sign when his contract is up after the 2010 season? Does Washington use its 2011 first-rounder on a quarterback or do they draft the best offensive lineman available in an attempt to continue rebuilding its most important, yet most neglected unit?

My point is this: the Redskins are in need of young talent at numerous positions on both sides of the football. By trading away draft picks - let alone high draft picks - for proven, yet older players they are just delaying the inevitable in exchange for immediate success. Sound familiar?

Although the move for McNabb does bring instant credibility to a struggling offense, its effects will be short-lived in the long run. The most recent attempt at a shortcut cripples a desperate franchise's future just weeks before it had the opportunity to invest in the best crop of offensive line talent in years.

In my opinion, the only way to salvage yesterday's blockbuster trade is to trade away the fourth overall pick for multiple picks in the early rounds. That, and hope this trade results in the same favorable outcome as the 1964 trade with Philly that brought Sonny Jurgensen to Washington.

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