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livin’ on a prayer

Day one of the NFL draft is in the books and if you’re a Redskins fan you’ve had no choice but to scratch your head at least once during the day. Let me start by saying I’m thrilled the team was able to trade out of the first round and improve their selections, thanks to a deal with Atlanta. Some of the names we’d heard the ‘Skins liked were there when it was time to make a decision about the 21st pick, but they resisted the urge to reach on a player who likely would have still been available later on. I was genuinely pleased with how things played out — trading away the pick and then still landing Devin Thomas, the wide out from Michigan State who they had rated as the best receiver in the draft.

Vinny Cerrato, the man calling the shots for the Redskins on draft day, said if they weren’t ablt to make a move they would have drafted Thomas at 21. Luckily, they made the move and still got him with the third pick in the second round, while also helping themselves out by improving later pick (they got the 34th, 48th and 103rd pick overall for the 21st, 84th and 154th selections in the draft). This is an impulse team that likes to make the big splash whenever possible, so seeing them rewarded for playing it safe and trading back gives one hope that they learn to be a little more like the guys calling the shots in New England, Pittsburgh and the rest of the elite front offices.

But just when you think you’ve got them figured out, these Redskins go and do something that completely baffles you. A team in dire need of help on both the offensive and defensive lines decides to use the newly-acquired second rounder on a tight end named Fred Davis from USC. I’m fairly sure if we were ranking the biggest areas of need on the current Washington Redskins football team that tight end would not rank in the top five, maybe not in the top 10. Chris Cooley is a premiere player at the position, Todd Yoder does a fine job backing him up and occasionally blocker and Tyler Ecker is a young guy who the ‘Skins drafted a year ago for depth at the position. With Calais Campbell, the defensive end from Miami (a.k.a. – The “U”) sitting there waiting for the Redskins to ask him for this dance, I thought the team would continue to impress us all today. Instead, we got Fred.

If that’s not enough, then the ‘Skins went one step further and drafted another receiver, Malcolm Kelly (you know, the guy I compared to Rod Gardner in an earlier post). I fully understand that the Redskins flew down to Oklahoma for a private workout with the kid this past Thursday and they legitimately considered drafted him with the 21st pick, meaning that he looked very appealing to them 30 picks later, but this is simply overkill. Unless they’re planning on putting 100 lbs. of weight on Fred and Mr. Kelly and teaching them to play on the offensive line, I cannot be on board with these picks. You’ve got Santana Moss, Antwan Randle El, James Thrash and Anthony Mix at wide out already, as well as Clinton Portis, Chris Cooley and Mike Sellers also around to get the ball to. When exactly are Thomas, Davis and Kelly (they sound like a law firm, don’t they?) going to touch the football? Sure, you’re trying to surround Jason Campbell with as much talent as possible, but that should also include help on the O-line.

Heading into day two the team has a third, fourth, sixth and two seventh rounders to get some depth on the offensive and defensive line, safety, cornerback and a back-up quarterback. Considering it’s virtually impossible for nine rookies to make the 2008 squad, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this team will still have some holes to fill once the draft is done. That’s means you either cross your fingers and pray like hell that a veteran or two gets cut in June or you go into the season praying injuries don’t cripple you at vital positions. Either way, that’s cause for an awful lot of faith with the big guy upstairs.

One final note – For what it’s worth, Cerrato told the media out at Redskins Park that drafting 17 receivers today basically means that they’ve given up on trying to acquire Chad Johnson, Anquan Boldin or Roy Williams in a trade.

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