Washington Redskins  

 

Washington Redskins: Best and worst draft picks

In the days leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, NFL.com will allow users to determine the best and worst draft picks for every team. The series continues with the team that owns the No. 51 overall pick in this year's draft, the Washington Redskins.

Best picks

Sammy Baugh -- 1937 (No. 6)
This choice, frankly, was eaaaaaaasy. Is a sixth overall pick expected to be solid overall? Of course. Is he supposed to be considered the greatest player in the first 50 years of the NFL? Or make the 75th anniversary team? How about lead the NFL in passing, interceptions, and punting all in the same season (1943)? You get the point. In Sammy Baugh's first season as a Redskin he paid immediate dividends, leading the league in completions and yards and leading the Redskins to the NFL Championship. Baugh threw for over 300 yards in that title game...this in an era in which it took some players five games to throw for that much. In a career that spanned a whopping 16 years, Baugh retired with pretty much every career passing record on the books. Moreover, he retired as the NFL's all-time best punter, and his 51.4 average in 1940 is still the all-time record. I could go on and on and on. This TCU and Redskins legend was THE MAN, in every sense of the word. He was the greatest passer of his era, the greatest punter of his era, a team leader, and the original face of a franchise whose fandom owes much of their passion to the groundwork he laid eight decades ago. Oh, and did we mention that the Redskins also won it all in 1942 with Baugh...or had 10 winning seasons with him as quarterback? You can make the case he's the greatest football player ever. No exaggeration.
» 1937 NFL Draft

The 1981 draft class
The Redskins' 1981 draft class is almost like Guns 'N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction album. Almost every cut is good. In one group of college players, the Redskins secured one Hall of Famer in Russ Grimm, two Hall of Very Gooders in Mark May and Dexter Manley, and three major contributors in Charlie Brown, Darryl Grant, and Clint Didier. That right there is what you call "a nucleus" in this bidness. An extremely versatile player, May was a nine-year starter at Tackle and Guard, including on three Super Bowl teams. Grimm was taken in the third round (the Redskins next pick), and immediately became a cornerstone of an offensive line that -- with May's help -- became affectionately known as "the Hogs." You don't get nicknames if you're not damn good, and running backs like John Riggins don't make the Hall of Fame without solid play up front. Manley was an extraordinary pass rusher who racked up 97.5 career sacks. Brown (eighth round) gave the offense a vertical presence in 1982 and 1983, both Super Bowl years. His 78 catches in '83 tied for the conference lead. Grant came from Rice University -- not known for its legacy of great defensive players -- and proceeded to start at defensive tackle for nine years. Then there was little-known Clint Didier (11th round), who made hay in the 'Skins' three-tight-end offense with 141 career catches and 21 touchdowns. He gave the Joe Gibbs attack some flexibility, often lining up outside like a wideout. What a haul for GM Bobby Beathard and rookie head coach Joe Gibbs. They don't win two Super Bowls together without the 1981 Draft class, plain and simple.
» 1981 NFL Draft

Darrell Green -- 1983 (No. 28)
Again, first-round draft picks are supposed to be Pro Bowl-level players -- but 20 years at cornerback? Really? All with the same team? And he went where? Texas A&I!? The 1983 first round was loaded like Keith Richards at a wedding: John Elway, Bruce Matthews, Eric Dickerson, Dan Marino, and Green. Know what those dudes all have in common? Mustard blazers that are actually considered cool. Green became a Hall of Famer through much effort and speed ... and more speed. Known universally as the NFL's fastest man, Green was still running a 4.3 late in his career. He's reported to have run a 4.22 at the old NFL Combine and his high (I guess you could say low) is 4.15. But you can't just be fast to play cornerback in the modern NFL. Green had an outstanding work ethic that led to his developing into a seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback and intercepting 54 passes over his career. He started in three Super Bowls, and was a dangerous punt returner when Joe Gibbs decided it was worth the risk to put his best defensive player in harm's way. It's not often the last pick in the first round has such a great career, and Green has often languished in the shadow of Elway and Marino from the '83 draft class. Yet he remains one of the greatest Redskins to put on the burgundy and gold.
» 1983 NFL Draft | Photos: Green through the years

Chris Hanburger -- 1965 (No. 245)
Chris Hanburger was an 18th round draft pick. And he's in the Hall of Fame. Read that again. You might not have heard of Hanburger, although he made it into Canton recently on the strength of the Seniors Committee vote in 2011. So what's the story of his career? Oh, not much. Just nine Pro Bowls. Hanburger was a 14-year starter at linebacker, playing for the likes of Vince Lombardi, George Allen, and the recently deceased Jack Pardee. He was one of the many 30-year olds who performed at a high level for Allen's "Over the Hill Gang," a group that made the playoffs five times in the 1970s, and won the NFC Championship following the 1972 season. The basis for Hanburger's selection as one of the Redskins' top five draft picks of all-time is simply explained: bang for the buck. The franchise received 14 years of Hall of Fame play for the expenditure of an 18th round draft pick. That's ROI, for all you finance majors out there.
» 1965 NFL Draft | Photos: Hanburger through the years

Art Monk -- 1980 (No. 18)
Like Baugh and Green, Monk was a first-round draft choice. He's more like Green, however, in that his selection came during the bottom half of the opening round. If you take a look at picks 15-28 of the 1980 NFL Draft, effectively the bottom half, you'll find a bunch of players who had mediocre to sub-mediocre careers in the league ... excluding Monk, obviously. Former Bills lineman Jim Ritcher and Bears linebacker Otis Wilson were probably the best of the lot, yet neither had near the impact on the NFL or his team that Monk did. The former Syracuse wide receiver played 14 years for the Redskins ranking up an astounding 940 catches. Monk was the NFL's all-time leading receiver as late as 1995, his last season in the league. His 106 catches in 1984 were a league record at the time. Most importantly, like all of the Redskins on this list, he was a winner. Monk was the key cog on four clubs (1982, 1983, 1987, 1991) that made the Super Bowl as well as eight playoff teams during his 14 years in Washington. That's enough to make this 18th overall pick a real draft bargain.
» 1980 NFL Draft | Art Monk HOF speech | Photos: Monk through the years

Worst picks

Desmond Howard -- 1992 (No. 4)
When former Redskins GM Charley Casserly took Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard fourth overall in the 1992 NFL Draft, the idea was to get a sorely needed big-play threat. Heck, it might have been the only piece this team was missing. A veteran ballclub, the Redskins dominated the 1991 campaign, going 17-2 en route to the franchise's third Super Bowl triumph. A true star at Michigan, Howard was needed to add youth and some vertical ability. Art Monk, Gary Clark, and Ricky Sanders were 35, 30, 30 years old during that season. Moreover, Clark's contract was up after the '92 season, while Sanders' was to be up the next. Howard could have been a dymanic replacement. Instead, he was pretty horrible. In three seasons and 48 games, Howard caught all of 10 passes. Making matters worse, Casserly was so worried the Packers were going to draft Howard that he dealt the Redskins' two first-round picks -- sixth and 28th -- and their third-round choice to the Cincinnati Bengals for their first-round pick (fourth) and their third-round pick. All this to jump over the Packers and get his man. It worked, except not at all.
» 1992 Draft | Touching Down: Desmond Howard

Tory Nixon -- 1985 (No. 33)
You know a draft pick sucks when a player gets traded before ever playing a regular season down. That, like, uh, never happens (please don't mention Eli Manning...totally different circumstance there.) Head coach Joe Gibbs didn't like Nixon's attitude and the kid didn't play well, giving up two preseason touchdowns to the Raiders (Jesse Hester and Dokie Williams were the suspects). Both TDs were called back, but the damage was done. The Redskins dealt him to the 49ers for a sixth-round choice in 1986 before Nixon's rookie season even began. Ironic, too, because the Niners used their other sixth-round draft choice in '86 to select another corner...Don Griffin, who played 11 seasons in the NFL and picked off 25 passes. Like Howard, Washington moved up to get Nixon, trading Joe Washington and their first-round pick in 1986 to Atlanta for the Falcons' second-round picks in 1985 (used to take Nixon) and 1986. Wow.
» 1985 NFL Draft

Heath Shuler -- 1994 (No. 3)
Another first-round pick gone wrong. Shuler held out, got outplayed by sixth-round pick Gus Frerotte, and threw five picks against Buddy Ryan's Cardinals in a game the Redskins lost by three points. He went 11 of 32 in that game, 120 of 265 that season, and 292 of 593 (49.2 percent) for his NFL career, which includes a cup of coffee with the Saints in 1997. Washington really needed a quarterback after Mark Rypien's play had declined precipitously during the '92 and '93 seasons. Shuler was a fantastic player at Tennessee, and the organization thought they had a franchise-level player in Washington for the next decade. Shuler did, in fact, become a player in Washington...as a congressman from North Carolina (2007-2013). He's a cool story, but a lousy draft pick. That's the way it goes...
» 1994 NFL Draft

Richie Lucas -- 1960 (No. 4)
...when you're drafted in the first round to be the Redskins' quarterback of the future. Sammy Baugh and RG3 truly are outliers when it comes to the legacy of quarterbacks taken in the first round for this franchise. Yep, the front office was hoping for a Griffin-type performance from Richie Lucas in 1960. Too bad Washington never saw Lucas play a down in the nation's capital. Selected fourth overall in the 1960 draft, the former Penn State star opted to play for the Bills, who had drafted him in the 1960 AFL Draft. In fact, Lucas was the first Buffalo Bills draft pick ever. Unfortunately, if not for the likes of Howard, Nixon, and Shuler, Lucas might be the worst Redskins pick ever. This selection was particularly bad because the Redskins had just spent their first-round pick in 1959 (also fourth overall) on quarterback Don Allard, who also never played in Washington. Say what!? Can you imagine Chip Kelly's Eagles - who have the fourth overall pick this year - taking Geno Smith, only to see him never play in an Eagles uniform? Then, in 2014, the team taking another QB fourth overall and him not playing either? UN-real. No wonder the Redskins won only five games total from 1959 to 1961, and didn't have a winning season until 1969...the one year Vince Lombardi coached the team.
» 1960 NFL Draft

The entire 1992 and 1993 draft classes
(Yes, the whole lot of 21 players.) Let's review the highlights of Washington's '92-'93 drafts: Frank Wychek (sixth round, '93). What a solid tight end. He caught 505 passes, except 482 of them were with the Oilers/Titans. OK, how about Reggie Brooks (2nd round, 1993)? He ran for 1,063 yards as a rookie. And then proceeded to run for 663 yards the the rest of his career. Lastly, Tom Carter. OK, no sarcasm here, as the former Notre Dame teammate of Brooks' had a nice four-year run as a complement to Darrell Green at corner. He would get beat on occasion, but made up for it with 18 picks during that span. Still, it should be noted that the Redskins chose not to match the Bears offer sheet in 1997 when Carter was a restricted free agent, partially because he was the second most-thrown-at corner in the league. So the team didn't really get enough return on its first-round investment. And those are the "highlights" of the 1992 and 1993 drafts. Really, the Redskins got almost no return on two entire draft classes. This was a team that had only one losing season in Joe Gibbs' 12-year tenure as coach. Washington had won the Super Bowl following the 1982, 1987, and 1991 seasons, and with a little help from the '92 and '93 draft classes, might have given those early '90s Cowboys some trouble in the NFC East. Forget it. Of the 21 draft picks, NONE played more than four seasons in Washington. In fact, six never played a snap in the NFL. The combined number of years played in a Redskins uniform by the guys selected in the 1992 and 1993 drafts? 33. Total. You have to feel for the fans, who had to endure campaigns of 4-12, 3-13, and 6-10 in the mid-90s.
» 1992 NFL Draft | 1993 NFL Draft

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @Harrison_NFL.

Best and worst draft picks
April 3: Chiefs | Jaguars
April 4: Raiders | Eagles
April 5: Lions | Browns
April 8: Bills | Cardinals
April 9: Jets | Titans
April 10: Chargers | Dolphins
April 11: Bucs | Panthers
April 12: Rams| Saints
April 15: Cowboys | Steelers
April 16: Bears | Giants
April 17: Bengals| Redskins
April 18: Colts | Vikings
April 19: Packers | Seahawks
April 22: Broncos| Texans
April 23: Falcons| Patriots
April 24: 49ers| Ravens

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