The NFL draft starts for the Washington Redskins one month from today.
Yes, it’s true that the actual draft will start on Thursday, April 26, a month from yesterday. But that day will merely be a formality for the Redskins. Within about 15 minutes of when the draft starts, they will submit the name of Robert Griffin III (or, possibly, Andrew Luck if the Colts do the unexpected and take Griffin) to the table. Their new quarterback will walk onto the stage, give Roger Goodell the bro hug, hold up the Redskins jersey with a 1 on it and that will be it.
The organization will have done a lot of work to get to that point and they hope that the most important position on the field will be locked down for the next decade or longer. They might celebrate briefly but they will have to get back to work to get the other 21 positions locked down.
They don’t have a second-round pick after sending that to the Rams in the trade up. The Redskins have one pick in the third round, two in the fourth (their own and Oakland’s in exchange for Jason Campbell), one in the fifth, one in the sixth (the Vikings’ pick in exchange for Donovan McNabb; their own went to Arizona for Tim Hightower) and one in the seventh.
Since the first round pick is spoken for and the second rounder is gone, the draft really starts somewhere around 8 p.m. on Friday, the 27th. The pressure will be on Mike Shanahan and the rest of the personnel department to come up with home runs in round three and with their two picks in the fourth round. With the salary cap squeezed by the NFL and with premium picks missing in this draft and the next two, the Redskins need to find quality players in the middle rounds.
That doesn’t mean that they have to find players who will start from the first day of training camp and go to multiple Pro Bowls. What the Redskins need to do is find players who can compete for starting jobs fairly soon. That would constitute a home run in rounds three and four.
In other words, they need to do what they did last year. In the third round they drafted Leonard Hankerson. It took him a while to make it onto the field but once he did it looked like he was on his way to a very good rookie season until a hip injury ended his season early.
Their fourth-round pick was Roy Helu, who led the team in rushing and set a team record for receptions in a game.
If the Redskins can get two or three more players like Hankerson and Helu to add to their quarterback of the future, they will have had a successful draft.
The ceremony starts on Thursday the 26th, but the work really starts on Friday, one month from today.
You can reach Rich by email at RTandlerCSN@comcast.net and follow him on Twitter @Rich_Tandler.