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McNabb and the Redskins' draft pick deficit

Chatting at 11. Submit questions here. And then, McNabb!

The McNabb trade has prompted at least two starkly different responses from intelligent Skins fans. Some believe that this was a mature move made by football professionals who fleeced a division rival. And others believe that the general arc of this transaction -- trading draft picks for an aging star -- is one that's been tried before in this town, and without much success.

While I can't decide which way I lean, I did almost immediately think of Ted Leonsis after this trade became public. The Caps poobah was on the Mike Wise Show last Friday, and was asked about his team-building philosophies. He was riffing on his experience with the Caps, and spinning it forward to the Wizards, but it still seems apropos.

"I've been in professional sports now for 11 years," Leonsis began. "I know what I know. We're all creatures of our experiences and muscle memory....[With the Caps], we traded all of our best players for picks and prospects and built a portfolio. And if you look at the NBA, if you look at the NFL, most teams that win championships or are at the cusp of winning a championship -- and have longevity of excellence -- are built around the draft."

That's what the Caps have largely done. That's conventional wisdom. And it's a path that the Redskins refuse to follow.

By getting rid of this year's second rounder in the McNabb deal, Washington now has just one pick out of the first 90 later this month; Philadelphia has five in that span. Washington has a total of four picks this year; Philadelphia has 11. That's a pretty stark difference. One of these teams has played 18 playoff games over the past decade. The other has played three. That's a stark difference, too.

This is a pattern that's developed over time. And Washington's draft-pick deficit has been most noticeable at the top, with the picks that theoretically matter the most.

Here is how Washington ranks, since 2001, in draft picks from the first four rounds. I'm including this year's draft order, though obviously those picks might still be swapped. And I'm comparing the Skins with their NFC East rivals and some other notable teams around the NFL. Obviously, you'd have 40 of these picks in the first round rounds barring any trades.

New England 48
Philadelphia 47 (8 first rounders, 14 second rounders, 11 third rounders, 14 fourth rounders)
Indianapolis 43
Dallas 43
Baltimore 41
San Diego 41
New York Giants 40
Pittsburgh 39
New Orleans 37
Washington 25 (8 first rounders, 7 second rounders, 6 third rounders, 4 fourth rounders)

Again, no snap judgments here. We'll see what happens. But when one of the most successful franchises in the league has nearly doubled your number of high draft picks, I'd think you'd start hoarding those picks, just to try something different.

(Inspired by Mister Irrelevant)

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 6, 2010; 8:29 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Comments

BINGO!!! Good job, Dan.

Posted by: paperboy76 | April 6, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Trading aging stars for draft picks and re-building the organization from the bottom up was the Caps Plan B.

Plan A was take an above average team and trade some prospects (that never panned out) for a star that had just peaked.

The real lesson here is that Ted tried the quick solution approach that the Skins keep trying but failing at, then he went to the other method and found success.

Posted by: kolbkl | April 6, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Here is the difference between the NHL and NFL, in the NHL (same with MLB) you can have trade for a boat load of prospects and stick them in the minors and they don't affect your NHL salary cap (no cap in MLB so that is moot, in the NFL there is no minor league system to develop prospects so these potential stars take up an NFL roster spot. Am I excusing the the way Snyder has run the team for the past decade, no, but at the same time you can't compare the NHL to the NFL it's just not the same. And as far as spending our 2nd round pick on McNabb, I'd rather use it for a proven QB whose got at least 4-5 seasons left in him than a possible bust with our 1st round pick. Now we can use the 4th overall to draft a lineman, trade back for more picks and still get a darn good lineman, and trade Campbell for a pick or two and still get more help. I think too many cynics are snap judging this move. If we take a QB with the 4th pick of the draft then it's okay to bring out the pitch forks and torches but lets at least wait and see what happens. Me I'm excited about McNabb.

Posted by: fmccain | April 6, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Kolbkl,

Don't hold a grudge against a man for his first mistake, hold a grudge if he does not learn from it.

Posted by: alex35332 | April 6, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

To be fair to the Skins, their third round pick wasn't traded away, they used it on a prospect picking defensive lineman Jarmon in the supplemental draft.

Posted by: mini_dagger | April 6, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

alex,

That's my point. Ted's been down both roads, and that makes the argument for the building method stronger.

Posted by: kolbkl | April 6, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Wake me up when the eagles actually win a super bowl...We've lost as many as they have been to.

And do we REALLY care about hockey, really?!?

Posted by: boricuabopper | April 6, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree, but our 'Skins are so horrible at picking in the draft. For every Orakpo and Samuels (great picks), they've made hordes and hordes of mistakes on draft day. Heck even Bobby Beathard screwed up sometimes - remember Tory Nixon?

So I'm not sure, even with the New Regime, that letting them play Russian Roulette on draft day would put the team on a long-term track to success.

Posted by: blackjack65 | April 6, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

kolbkl, sorry the way I was reading what you wrote I thought it was a negative connotation not positive.

Posted by: alex35332 | April 6, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Awesome Stat Dan
I'm going crazy here man!

Posted by: G20FdaCowboys | April 6, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Great work, Dan. But, your post begs the question:

If the Caps do it right and Skins do it wrong

WHY THE F-TY F-F DOES THE WASHINGTON POST GO GA-GA OVER DONOVAN MCNABB WHEN THE CAPS WON THEIR FIRST-EVER PRESIDENTS' TROPHY?

No, it's not the Stanley Cup. But, it's a hell of a lot more important and meaningful than watching Dan Snyder be Dan Snyder in the offseason.

Posted by: CF11555 | April 6, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

@boricuabopper

Yes we do. Especially considering how successful the Caps have been and how awful the Skins have been.

Posted by: CDon | April 6, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Didn't we have another hall fame coach that as soon as he took over, went after a high name QB? Gave up picks in the draft! Ummmm ,I think he's name was Joe Gibbs and the QB was Mark Burnell. What happen there? Mark did no better than Jason. Not sure how I fell about this deal. McNabb is better but I thought we wanted to get better thur the draft?

Posted by: wizardman | April 6, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Didn't we have another hall of fame coach that as soon as he took over, went after a high name QB? Gave up picks in the draft! Ummmm,I think his name was Joe Gibbs and the QB was Mark Burnell. What happen there? Mark did no better than Jason. Not sure how I fell about this deal. McNabb is better but I thought we wanted to get better in the draft and not high priced free agents?

Posted by: wizardman | April 6, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Didn't we have another hall of fame coach that as soon as he took over, went after a high name QB? Gave up picks in the draft! Ummmm,I think his name was Joe Gibbs and the QB was Mark Burnell. What happen there? Mark did no better than Jason. Not sure how I fell about this deal. McNabb is better but I thought we wanted to get better in the draft and not high priced free agents?

Posted by: wizardman | April 6, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

in general i dont like the idea of trading draft picks for older players.

but in this case i think it was a good move. we needed a QB and we desperately need an o-line. by making the trade we virtually guarantee that the first will be used on a lineman. if the choice was between mcnabb and okung, claussen and a 2nd rounder, or okung and tebow than i think they made the right decision.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 6, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Dan,

You forgot the George Allen..."The future is now" era that set the Redskins back years. I see this happening again.

Posted by: rhankey | April 6, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Sure, the price was nice. But you don't have to buy something just because it's on sale.

I swear, watching this team operate is like watching an episode of Hoarders.

Posted by: JohninMpls | April 6, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I, too, agree with you in general. But they needed a better quarterback, and McNabb is in the top tier. They got one without giving up the top pick. Let this play out. They may make a deal to get more picks. They could trade out of #4 to get more. Who knows? And the draft is so deep in OT's, it doesn't seem like there's much of a drop-off in the top prospects. I know it's tempting to connect Shanahan and Allen to past trends because of this one move, but it was a good move in this case, and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for now. What are the odds of a second-rounder this year having as much impact as McNabb will if he's able to play for a four or five more years?

Posted by: OintheSierras | April 6, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

More draft picks will likely be forthcoming in trades for Albert, JC, maybe Andre Carter, and unfortunately probably Chris Cooley too. The Patriots have twelve draft picks. they might like Cooley for a second.

Posted by: bigfoot1 | April 6, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

More draft picks =/= success. Dan only picked top team to compare with. It does not represent ANY facts clearly. I went back and tabulated the amounts of picks some of the other teams had since 2001 including this year and this is what I found.

Lions 42
49ers 43
Falcons 39
Bills 44
Raiders 44
Bengals 50

Now would you say these teams were significantly more successful than the Redskins?

Also as a consider the divisions these teams play in when you consider their success.

Posted by: wredskin | April 6, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

The Eagles and Skins both had 8 1st rounders, but on 2,3, and 4 the Eagles outscored the Skins 39 to 17. Surprise we had no depth on the O line when starters went down, why we have 3 retreads at running back instead of a young guy been groomed for a couple years. Those rounds are the NFL equivalent of NHL and MLB farm teams. Remember a couple of years agop when we had 3 2nds? OK they shouldn't have all gone to receivers, but we got two starters out of them last year, and one or more may become stars. One or two stars won't mean much if all there is is swiss cheese behind them.

Posted by: rcweasel | April 7, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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