Turns out, all that Mark Sanchez talk was for nothing.
Note to self: add New York Jets to Christmas Card list.
The Redskins filled a need with the No. 13 pick in the first round, selecting Brian Orakpo. The 6-3, 263-pound defensive end from Texas was the Big XII Defensive Player of the Year and won the Lombardi Award (best lineman) and the Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player). He had 11.5 sacks as a senior for the Longhorns to go along with 17.5 tackles for losses en route to being named an All-American.
The Redskins needed a strong pass-rusher on the end, someone who could come off the edge and get to the quarterback. If free-agent signee Albert Haynesworth performs as he should and clogs up the middle on the line of scrimmage, Orakpo should feast on offensive guards and tight ends, thanks to a quick burst out of his stance.
Orakpo has battled knee injuries his last two seasons at Texas, but he said Saturday, "I'm 100 percent right now. I'm healthy." He's also a bit of liability on run defense, but that wasn't Washington's problem last season.
A solid first-round pick for a franchise lacking in them under Daniel Snyder's ownership. Rather than going after the splashy quarterback -- the New York Jets traded up to No. 5 to take Sanchez -- the Redskins went after one of their pressing needs. The teams that are successful use the draft to fill needs, not make splashy picks or trade them away like they're handing out free bags of Skittles on Halloween.
Kudos to Washington for getting this one right. The Redskins only had five other picks in the entire draft. Here's a look at them:
Kelvin Barnes, 3rd Round, No. 80 overall (CB, 6-0, 187, University of Maryland)
Barnes is a hard-hitting corner perhaps best known for the hit he put on Cal's Jahvid Best this past fall to break up a pass. Best laid on the ground for several moments and vomited before being helped to his feet again. That sort of hit was reminiscent of former Redskin Sean Taylor, and given how the team cut Shawn Springs in the offseason, it makes sense that Washington would go after a young, hard-hitting corner.
Barnes missed six games last season with a broken shoulder blade, but says he's completey recovered and healthy. He had 85 tackles and six interceptions over his last two seasons for the Terrapins.
Cody Glenn, 5th Round, No. 158 overall (LB, 6-0, 244, University of Nebraska)
Glenn was converted from running back to linebacker the spring before his senior season, in part because of injuries that sidelined him for the majority of his sophomore and junior seasons. He performed well on the outside before finding himself suspended for the final four games of the season. While I don't begrudge the Redskins for taking a linebacker -- it was a need, given the team's offseason activities -- I'm not sure what the team's thinking taking someone who has a character red flag and has played so little at the position in which he was drafted.
A real head-scratcher, honestly -- even if it was in the fifth round and there's little guaranteed money involved.
Robert Henson, 6th Round, No. 186 overall (LB, 6-0, 240, TCU)
Known mostly for his speed, Henson will probably spend the bulk of his early career with the special teams unit, but again, I don't have a problem with the Redskins drafting a linebacker. Henson was a first team All-Mountain West selection as a senior after he had 73 tackles and t wo interceptions.
Should Henson break into the linebackers unit, his speed could be a tremendous asset, whether the team uses him to rush the passer or drop into pass coverage. It'll be interesting to see how Henson develops in the coming seasons.
Eddie Williams, 7th Round, No. 221 overall (RB, 6-1, 239, University of Idaho)
Williams earned Team MVP honors after catching 54 passes for 687 yards and six touchdowns. He tore his ACL late in the season, but the Redskins expect him to be fully recovered in time for July mini-camps. Williams is expected to audition for the team's fullback role, though with Mike Sellers on the roster, I can't help but wonder if Williams is a backup and possible special teams player.
Still, in the seventh round, there's no real harm here.
Marko Mitchell, 7th Round, No. 243 overall (WR, 6-4, 218, University of Nevada)
Mitchell caught 61 passes for 1,141 yards and 10 touchdowns this past season, but that's a little misleading, since Nevada runs a passing-oriented offense. He's a tall receiver -- something the Redskins don't have -- and is quick, but there are questions regarding his upper-body strength and his hands. I question this pick, given how Washington took two wideouts and a tight end in the 2008 draft, but again ... there can't be too much to complain about in the seventh round.
If nothing else, another special teams guy -- maybe a return man, if he can ever work on that hands issue.
All in all, the Redskins did a good job with the relatively few picks they had. I'd give the draft an overall grade of B, bordering on B+, even though I realize we won't know just how successful this draft was until a couple years down the road. I admit a lot of that grade has to do with the team not getting Sanchez, but the team did make some smart picks with the purpose of filling holes in the defense -- a defense that was actually fourth in the league last season.
The only thing that kept this from being an A draft? Well, the Glenn pick is a little perplexing, but I was also hoping the Redskins would select an offensive lineman. There is still an issue on the offensive line, both in terms of talent and depth, and I was hoping Washington would use the draft to address those issues.
All told, though, this year's draft wasn't the disaster I was expecting.
Sports Round-Up, Volume 9
8 years ago