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Luck of Irish may determine Redskins' fate, WT


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The Redskins' primary need heading into Saturday's draft is the need to get lucky.

The luckier the better.

After all, hiring a Hall of Fame coach hasn't worked -- at least not yet. Spending at a record pace hasn't worked, either. Neither has bending the offseason workout rules or trading away pick after pick after pick.

Three years after Joe Gibbs' triumphal return, the team is right back where it started: coming off a 5-11 season and wondering whether things are going to get better or worse. So, yes, it would be a boon to the Redskins if the draft broke their way, inasmuch as their collective genius doesn't seem to be getting them very far.

Dream scenario No. 1 for the Snydermen: Brady Quinn becomes this year's Matt Leinart and begins to drop.

Hey, it could happen. Quinn got terrific coaching at Notre Dame from Charlie Weis, the Patriots' former play caller, but he didn't exactly light up the field in the Irish's three biggest games last season (Michigan, USC, LSU). Some general managers might feel Weis made him look better than he actually is.

That could increase the value of the Redskins' pick, sixth overall ... if Brady lasts that long and if some Quinn-crazed club (Miami? Carolina? Kansas City? Chicago?) makes them an offer they can't refuse. Gibbs certainly wouldn't mind recovering some of his lost draft choices and strengthening the roster in more than one area.

Dream scenario No. 2: LSU safety LaRon Landry is already gone by the time the Redskins draft in the first round (especially if they keep the sixth pick).

Nothing against Landry; he is, by all accounts, a fine player and righteous dude. It's just that the team drafted another safety in the first round, Sean Taylor, just three years ago. Taking LaRon that high would leave the Redskins open yet again to charges of overkill, one of the franchise's nastier habits since Snyder took over in 1999.

Think about it: In the beginning, Snyder OD'd on marquee names (Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, etc.) More recently, he's been stocking up on pricey assistant coaches as if he's expecting a worldwide shortage. Last season he went wild on wide receivers (Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd). And now there's talk he might double up on first-round safeties.

Here's what makes me really nervous about such a possibility, though: Nobody in the last 25 years -- which is as far back as I checked -- has drafted two safeties No. 1 in such a short time. The position, quite frankly, has never been deemed important enough to warrant such attention.

So the Redskins would be bucking conventional wisdom if they ignored their other defensive needs -- pass rusher, cornerback, you name it -- and opted for Landry. And sorry, but from what I've seen, this isn't an organization that's any threat to reinvent the wheel (unless you're talking about Ferris wheel at Six Flags).

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Although I am all about the D line, two great safties would work well in the GW system. D line holds down the fort and the Backers and DBs do the attacking. I could see us getting him and making it work. Besides, the way the league has been goin, with RBs and faster TEs catching more balls, the Saftey position is becoming more and more valueable.

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So cornerback is still a need?? Please how many CBs can you possibly have on one team. We have Springs, Smoot, Rogers, Macklin, Jimoh and even PP can step in and play solid corner if necessary.

I agree it may be a bit silly to think of drafting two safeties that high but Landry is real solid and if he is available at #6 then we should seriously consider him.

We all saw what happened last year when we had safeties that couldn't cover (thank you AA.) Furthermore, as I have stated in numerous other posts, D-Line is not a problem or need. Yes, some of our guys are getting old but we also have Goldston and Mo who are youngs guys to complement Grif and Big Joe and Daniels. Don't forget about Andre Carter who just started to come around at the end of last year.

CJ, Landry or DLine are all justifiable draft picks in my mind.

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Yeah am gathering from JLC article and this one that the media senses Landry as the pick and they are sharpening their knifes to criticize the pick.

We saw the article from ESPN about how safeties are becoming critical to defenses as they adjust to changing offenses, here's an article today from USA Today, same subject.

By Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY

In a sense, Rod Woodson laments the day he was born. "It would have been great if my mom and dad would have held out 12 more years to have me," the former NFL star defensive back says.

He might be partly joking. The value of being a safety, one of the positions he excelled at from 1987-2003, is soaring because of the rise of the "Cover 2" defense to counter pass-happy offenses: the two cornerbacks pressing the action at the line of scrimmage, leaving each of two safeties to cover half of the field deep.

PHOTOS: Top defensive backs available

The early rounds of recent drafts show the importance of finding safeties with the quickness and speed to cover a great deal of ground on pass routes and the toughness and tackling ability to stuff the run.

Thirty-one safeties were taken in Rounds 1-3 from 1990-96. The total jumps to 60 for that many years in the new millennium. NFLDraftScout.com projects nine safeties to go in the first three rounds this weekend.

"We have never had more than three safeties drafted in the first round. This year we could very likely have four," says Gil Brandt, former Dallas Cowboys executive and current NFL.com senior analyst.

Louisiana State's LaRon Landry is projected as a top-10 pick, followed in the first and second rounds (not necessarily in order) by Michael Griffin of Texas, Brandon Meriweather of Miami (Fla.) and Reggie Nelson, a defensive mainstay for national champ Florida.

NFL draft analyst and former defensive back Mike Mayock says there is a priority on finding safeties because teams are pushing for those players to do more.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: NFL | National Football League | Pro Bowl | NFL draft | Pro Football Hall of Fame | Teams | Reggie Nelson | Scot Mccloughan | Cover 2

"They are asking you to cover large chunks of the field … so (you need) great range. They are also asking you to be tough enough and a good enough tackler to assert yourself" at the line, Mayock says. "And they are saying, 'By the way, there will be certain sets where we are asking you to cover a receiver (in the slot) with no help.'

"When you start putting those skills together, that's a special athlete. We are starting to see a recognition, from a draft perspective, that if you can go get one of those guys, you've got to get them."

The 6-2, 202-pound Landry looks to be one of those must-have talents. His physical abilities and grasp of the game were good enough that he started at LSU as a freshman and led the Tigers in tackles in three of four seasons. His 12 interceptions are tied for third all-time in school history.

"I'm very physical out there. I'm a great tackler (at the line). I'm great at taking on the pulling guard," he says. "I was smart back there (in the deep set). I was like a quarterback of the defense."

Scot McCloughan, vice president of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers, seconds Landry's self-endorsement.

"He's one of the top 10 football players in this draft," says McCloughan, who, with the 11th pick, doesn't expect Landry to be available for the 49ers. He went the free agency route and signed former Pro Bowl safety Michael Lewis.

"Especially picking early, you don't pick for need," he says. "You pick the best football player."

Few in number

Only nine safeties have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When Brandt was director of player personnel for the Cowboys from 1960-89, the philosophy was to play it safe in selecting safeties.

"We didn't draft safeties," he says, "and the reason … is because we felt if he couldn't make it as a safety, there was no place to go with him. If you missed on him, you kind of struck out. If you took a corner and missed … you had a second position at safety. It was kind of tried throughout the" NFL.

That has changed. McCloughan sees Lewis, a second-round draft pick, as an every-down player with real versatility in passing situations.

"We really like what he brings" in package situations, when coaches load up the defensive backfield, McCloughan says of the 6-1, 222-pound Lewis. "He has enough size to be a good run player, and he can cover a back out of the backfield. We like everything about him."

Lewis was one of 11 safeties to go in the first three rounds in 2002. That high was matched last April, when Michael Huff (seventh, to the Oakland Raiders) and Donte Whitner (eighth, to the Buffalo Bills) cracked the top 10.

Neither the selection of Huff nor that of Whitner was particularly popular with hometown fans, who tend to prize offensive skill positions. Yet Buffalo general manager Marv Levy regards Whitner as a cornerstone in the Bills' rebuilding.

"He had a fine rookie season," Levy says of Whitner, second on the team in tackles. "He tuned in (to coaching). He was on top of it. There is still a big upside to him."

Buffalo solidified its last line of defense by drafting safety Ko Simpson in the fourth round. He also made great strides (fifth in tackles) and joins Whitner as a promising tandem who can grow together.

"The two greatest things that occurred on our team would be the bonanza we hit at safety and the progress of J.P. Losman at quarterback," Levy says.

Rising profile

Twenty years ago Woodson was taken 10th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was the first to make the Pro Bowl as a safety, cornerback and kick returner and was named to the NFL's 75th anniversary team.

His draft prominence was the exception. "Safety was just a piece of the puzzle, nothing really important," he says of the thinking then. " 'You can always get a safety later in the draft or get a free agent who has kind of been a travel-around guy in the NFL.' "

The performance of the last two Super Bowl champions emphasizes the increased value of a safety fearless enough to stop the run yet fast enough to cover when faced with multiple-receiver patterns.

Troy Polamalu, his hair cascading down the back of his black-and-gold jersey as he raced around to make plays, became one of the indelible images associated with the Steelers when they won it all to close the 2005 season.

Bob "The Eraser" Sanders, all 5-8, 206 pounds, helped make the difference when the Indianapolis Colts, relying on the "Cover 2" defense coach Tony Dungy popularized, won Super Bowl XLI in February. The Colts allowed a league-worst 173 average rushing yards in the regular season, but Sanders plugged those holes upon his return from knee surgery.

The 2004 second-rounder had 15 solo tackles in the three playoff wins that propelled the Colts to the title game, according to the team. His first-quarter forced fumble and fourth-quarter interception helped beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

"He was the best tackler on the team, so they needed him in that mix," Woodson says. "He made a lot of plays, and he got everybody excited."

The search for the next "Eraser" is on.

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Hey we also got Reed Doughty a promising young second day pick to work in at the safety spot as well. This is about as credible as saying we got Montgomery and Golston to work in on the D-line as the young foundations.

We desperately need some blue chip prospects to develop in the front four, we already have two in the back four and one in the LB group.

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Hey we also got Reed Doughty a promising young second day pick to work in at the safety spot as well. This is about as credible as saying we got Montgomery and Golston to work in on the D-line as the young foundations.

We desperately need some blue chip prospects to develop in the front four, we already have two in the back four and one in the LB group.

Unfortunately, I think that is going to have to start next year while we hold a draft pick for every round. I'm hoping Gibbs is smart enough to not mortgage the future again. This is where you get your blue chippers and blue collared guys.

On a sidenote, make sure everyone pays attention to SF's draft. They have 13 picks I believe... let's see how well they do with all of those picks. Because if they come away with nothing then they need to be heavily criticized like we get for giving away our picks.

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