Wasted 2nd Rounder Symbolizes Skins' Failures

Fred Davis was the nation's top tight end as a USC senior in 2007. Despite his preference for his pillow over practice on the final day of minicamp, the 22-year-old from Toledo seems like a good guy.

However, that doesn't mean that it was smart for the Redskins to use their second choice, 47th overall, on Davis. Chris Cooley's presence will prevent Davis from having the impact that his talent says he should have. Cooley, a Pro Bowl tight end in 2007, is just 25 and is signed through 2012. He's also perhaps the most popular Redskin.

With so many other needs, the Redskins don't need two Chris Cooleys. Even with injuries to such starting tight ends as Jeremy Shockey, Todd Heap and L.J. Smith, only two backups at the position caught as many as 30 passes last season:

Ben Utecht of high-powered Indianapolis, who has since signed with Cincinnati; and Chicago's Greg Olsen, the only tight end taken in the first round of the 2007 draft. And neither Utecht nor Olsen reached even 40 catches.

But with no successor to 35-year-old left defensive end Phillip Daniels or injury-plagued 30-year-old strongside linebacker Marcus Washington on the roster, the Redskins took a luxury like Davis.

Perennial contenders New England and Indianapolis can draft the best players on their boards, but when you've won a single playoff game in 15 years and you're 59-72 this millenium, you fill your needs.

Daniels will be 36 next year and Washington will be an old 31. Instead of grooming their successors, the Redskins are looking at replacing them in 2009 with rookies or over-priced free agents.

Does anyone think the teams that start Tom Brady and Peyton Manning would've drafted quarterbacks with their second picks if players at that position had been No. 1 on their boards? The Patriots wisely took a cornerback to replace departed free agent Asante Samuel while the Colts chose a linebacker to succeed the waived Rob Morris.

That's why Bill Belichick and Bill Polian are master architects and Vinny Cerrato has yet to assemble a team that can even host a wild-card game (Charley Casserly built the 1999 Redskins).

Miami (Fla.) end Calais Campbell, an elite passrusher for new Redskins defensive line coach John Palermo in 2006, was still on the board at No. 47. So were the highly-regarded Chris Ellis of Virginia Tech and Quentin Groves of Auburn, both of whom might be switched to outside linebacker as Washington was when he was drafted by the Colts.

Perhaps the above trio can't be every-down ends like Daniels. And Kendall Langford and Bryan Smith, picked in the third round, are from less reliable small schools, but how about Purdue's Cliff Avril?

All the standout college outside linebackers except Keith Rivers and Jordon Dizon were also available at No. 47. Do the Redskins really believe that Dan Connor, Xavier Adibi, Geno Hayes or Shawn Crable couldn't help them more than Davis?

Yes, the Redskins needed bigger targets for Jason Campbell, but they had already drafted 6-2 Devin Thomas and were about to choose 6-4 Malcolm Kelly to complement vertically challenged starting receivers Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El. Taking an end or an outside backer instead of Davis in between Thomas and Kelly would have made so much more sense. As Dan Daly of The Washington Times wrote, no team had used its first three picks on pass-catchers since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

The Redskins then compounded their mistake by not choosing an end until seventh-rounder Rob Jackson, who had only two sacks (both in the same game) as a Kansas State senior, while not using any of their 10 picks on a linebacker.

Washington drafted a punter for the first time in 15 years but didn't deem a linebacker worth selecting even though Maryland's Erin Henderson, an all-ACC choice, and Georgia Tech's equally worthy Gary Guyton went undrafted?

Davis might have Pro Bowl ability, but with Cooley in front of him, we'll never find out until one of them departs as a free agent. That won't happen before 2012 and that's way too long to wait.

Read Dave Elfin's column in each issue of Warpath. Subscribe today at www.warpathstore.com


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