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After spend a pair of first-round picks on players in glamour positions on Saturday and took a pair of linebackers and a pair of fullbacks on the second day.
Of the four picks—Robert McCune of Louisville (5th round) and Jared Newberry of Stanford (6th) are the linebackers and Manuel White of UCLA (4th) and The Citadel’s Nehemiah Broughton (7th)are the FB’s—McCune is by far the most interesting. He’s 26 and came to Louisville on a National Guard scholarship, not a football scholarship. Without checking, I’d have to guess that he’s the oldest player the Redskins have drafted since George Allen drafted Moses Denson, a CFL veteran, in 1973. McCune is a veteran too, but of tours of duty in Kuwait and Korea, not of a sports league.
Again with the caveat that it takes a few years to judge a draft, why draft these players? The last time I checked, Gibbs’ offense didn’t use a fullback and even with the departure of Antonio Pierce the field is rather crowded there.
The nose-in-the-dirt nature of all four of these players indicates that Joe Gibbs is furthering his efforts to improve the Redskins’ special teams. In the Scout.com reports of each player, a role on special teams is mentioned prominently.
That would be nothing new to McCune. As a non-scholarship player he earned his way onto the Louisville roster as a special teams guy. At 6-0 and a well-chiseled 245, McCune was hand timed at a 3.37 40 at the combines (his official time was 4.5). You look up “wedge buster” in the NFL glossary and there’s a picture of a guy like McCune there.
If you can tell that I like McCune despite never having seen him play save for a video clip here and there, you’re right. How can you not like a guy who has earned the nickname The Hammer. Not Hammer, not the Hammer, but The Hammer. If you think that this is a distinction without a difference, all I can say is that you’re wrong.
These selections didn’t cause nearly the consternation among the Redskins faithful as did the selection of Jason Campbell (although their “failure” to pick up local faves such as UVa’s Chris Canty and Elton Brown did). As the selection of Carlos Rogers, in my view, bordered on a no-brainer, the Campbell pick is the only one that warrants much further discussion.
The odd thing about this pick is that Campbell doesn’t even have to take a snap in order to be a good selection. Here’s a little story that might seem familiar: A young quarterback drafted in the overall early 30’s. In the early going he shows equal parts of promise and struggle and a veteran is brought in. When the vet can’t get it done, the team drafts a QB in the first round. And all of a sudden Drew Brees goes to the Pro Bowl. Without seeing any significant action, Philip Rivers plays a major role in the Chargers making the playoffs while Doug Flutie rides off into the sunset.
Patrick Ramsey is easy to root for. By all indications he’s a great guy, he says all the right things, he’s smart, he’s tough. But the cold, hard fact is that he still has yet to establish himself as an NFL quarterback. So does Joe Gibbs just work with him and wait and see if he develops? Or does he scare the hell out of him by spending a first, a third, and a fourth to draft his potential successor?
There’s one more important thing to remember. Ramsey was the selection of the previous administration, ie the one with Dan Snyder in charge. Quarterbacks are to head coaches as Secretaries of State are to the president—they serve at the boss’ pleasure. A new administration is not bound by the decisions of the previous one (although salary cap considerations, of course, are meaningless in the federal government).