Tag:LaRon Landry
Posted on: March 19, 2010 1:05 pm
 

Redskins at No. 4 key to Top Ten

Last year I argued that the Seattle Seahawks were the key to how the top ten would play out.

They had expressed considerable interest in quarterback Mark Sanchez, had a greater need at offensive tackle and employed a general manager in Tim Ruskell who favored safe players like outside linebacker Aaron Curry.

The Seahawks obviously went with Curry with the fourth pick of the draft.

The ramifications of this decision, of course, were that the Browns traded their pick to the Jets, who took Sanchez and the run on offensive linemen continued in the top ten despite Seattle ignoring the position.

This year the Washington Redskins own the fourth pick. They're the team thought likely by league insiders to control what happens early in the first round.

It is possible that the Lions surprise and select OT Russell Okung second overall to protect their young quarterback Matt Stafford, but most in the league believe the three best players in the 2010 draft are Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy -- likely going in that order to the Rams, Lions and Bucs, respectively.

The Redskins have a need for a young quarterback, especially considering that Jason Campbell is a restricted free agent expected to sign a one year deal. The Redskins recently signed former first round pick Rex Grossman, but he too, is only signed through next season. There are some who believe Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen is destined for the Redskins.

Others, however, point to Washington's lack of talent at offensive tackle. The retirement of Chris Samuels opened up a gaping hole at left tackle that veteran Levi Jones struggled to fill last year when Samuels was hurt. Right tackle isn't much better with Stephon Heyer.

Still others have argued that a good Washington defense could carry the team in Mike Shanahan's first year if he were to find more playmakers in the secondary. LaRon Landry hasn't produced as expected to his point and has been outplayed by Chris Horton. Eric Berry, who many believe to the be in conversation with Bradford, Suh and McCoy as the elite players in this draft could be a tempting option.

The shoddy depth and extreme importance of the quarterback position could force Shanahan to grab Clausen. If so, you can expect the next best quarterbacks -- Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Tony Pike, etc -- to be pushed up the board that much higher.

The same would apply at OT or S should the Redskins go in those directions. There is no denying that along with defensive linemen, offensive tackles and safeties are the strengths of this draft. Three offensive tackles went in the top ten last year. Should Washington select Okung at No. 4, Iowa's Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma's Trent Williams may not be far behind.

The more intriguing scenario might be if Washington selects Berry. Only twice since 1993 have there been three pure safeties selected in the first round (1998, 2007). This will almost surely occur in 2010 with Berry, Texas' Earl Thomas and USC's Taylor Mays all likely to be drafted in the opening frame. Should Berry go early, however, a run on safeties could result, pushing South Florida's Nate Allen into the mix.


Posted on: January 2, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: January 2, 2010 11:26 am
 

Berry is spectacular, but #3 tops

Athletic, instinctive and versatile enough to play any position in the defensive backfield (as well as returner), there is no denying Tennessee's Eric Berry is a phenomenal talent and a potential top five prospect in the 2010 draft. He'd have nothing to gain and potentially everything to lose had he elected to return for his senior campaign. The fact that he has two widely respected former NFL coaches in Lane and Monte Kiffin on hand to endorse him only adds to his impressive resumé.

Berry is also coming out in the perfect year for a ball-hawking safety considering the monstrous impact we've seen in the NFL this season from Darren Sharper and Brian Dawkins. Their first seasons with the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos, respectively, have been instrumental in the defensive turnarounds of these clubs. The impressive rookie years by Pro Bowler Jairus Byrd (Buffalo) and Louis Delmas (Detroit), among others has proven that young players can make an immediate impact, as well.

Furthermore, we've seen the impact felt by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts defenses when their ulta-athletic, ultra instinctive safeties Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed and Bob Sanders have missed time.

And yet as important as the safety position is, NFL scouts will tell you that the relative value of the safety position simply limits his draft stock. Because of their greater ability to change the game on a play by play basis, quarterbacks and, more importantly for this year in particular, defensive linemen, will earn the higher draft slot come April.

I believe Eric Berry to be a future Pro Bowl regular, and yet barring a freak injury or surprise character question, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is not only going to be drafted ahead of Berry, he'll deserve to.  Oklahoma junior Gerald McCoy and Georgia Tech junior Derrick Morgan (should he, as expected, leave school early), will also jump ahead of Berry, if history is any indication.

Consider that there has been only three safeties taken in the top six since in the past twenty years: Eric Turner (Cleveland #2, 1991), Sean Taylor (Washington #5, 2004) and LaRon Landry (Washington #6, 2007).  In comparison, there have been 30 defensive linemen drafted in the top six during this time -- including four that have gone #1 overall (Steve Emtman-Indianapolis-1992; Dan Wilkinson-Cincinnati-1994; Courtney Brown-Cleveland-2000; Mario Williams-Houston-2006).  

The player most scouts will tell you Berry reminds them of is Reed, who somehow slipped to 24th in the 2002 draft.

I certainly don't believe scouts will take as long on draft day this year to realize the impact a potential Pro Bowl safety can have on their defense, but to rank Berry higher than a dominant "big," as some in the media are apparently doing, is simpy an attempt to be different. 


 
 
 
 
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