Before the free agency period started, Joe Gibbs expressed a preference that the Redskins be able to fill their needs by signing veterans and use the draft to add depth and take the best available player regardless of position. That was before the loss of Laveranues Coles via a trade and the signing of Fred Smoot and Antonio Pierce with Minnesota and the Giants, respectively. Gibbs maintains that he has replacements on the roster for those players, but the events of the off season certainly must have him thinking of receiver, cornerback and middle linebacker prospects now at least a bit more than he did on March 1.
Very few teams actually take the best player available regardless of position and very few draft based purely on need. Good drafting is a result of balance between the two. A team would be ill served to pass up a player that it has rated very high on its board with no one else available even close just because there is an established starter at that position. You need to find a way to make that situation work. However, if when a team's pick comes up and there are multiple players who are rated nearly evenly, a strong edge has to be given to the one who plays the position of greatest need.
So where will the Redskins go in the first round? Given that they could trade up (very unlikely) or trade down (possible but far from probable) from their #9 spot in the first round, a number of possibilities exist. Here's an early assessment of the chances of the Skins taking a player at any of the offensive positions in this draft:
Quarterback: It seemed like it was more than three years ago that Patrick Ramsey was the initial draft pick of the Steve Spurrier era, but that's how long it's been since the Ballcoach took a chopper to FedEx Field to address fans at a draft day party while his team was still maneuvering its way down the first round to pick Ramsey. Gibbs has given him the keys to the offense for 2005 and beyond. Chance of taking a QB in the first: very low.
Running back: The Redskins have too much invested in Clinton Portis to bring in a challenger for him. Chance of taking a RB in the first: very low
Tight end/H-back: Chris Cooley is in at H-back, but the group of tight ends isn't exactly inspiring. The right man (Virginia's Heath Miller) at the right spot (late teens or early twenties) could be too tempting to pass up. Chances of taking a TE in the first: moderately low
Wide Receiver: This position is the great unknown on the team with Santana Moss, acquired in the Coles deal, and free agent signee David Patten penciled in as the starters. Taylor Jacobs is currently slated to be the third wideout. At six feet tall, Jacobs in the biggest of the bunch and the thinking is that Gibbs might like to add a larger target for Ramsey to the mix. There are plenty of receivers with some size that could be a good value at just about any slot in the first round. Chances of taking a WR in the first round: high
Offensive line: The Redskins have a ton of money invested in their tackles and it's generally considered to be a waste of a first-round pick if you take an interior lineman. Chances of taking an OL in the first round: nearly zero.
Next: The Defense
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