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Vision Quest: “And Then There Were Two”

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* Washington Redskins

* National Football League

* NFL Draft

— CNYSkinFan @ 1:10 pm

What a difference a day makes.

Last night I was putting the finishing touches on my final article regarding the Redskins first round draft choice. Regular followers of my articles and posting know how enamored I am with Heath Miller. I laid out a 5 point argument for drafting the TE after either a trade down or even at #9.

Now it seems I have to make a call on 2 first round selections instead of one. Last night Washington traded this year’s third and next year’s 1st and 4th to the Denver Broncos. It never is a dull off-season here in the Redskin Nation. Just when you thought you knew everything that was going on the Redskins front office does what is thought to be improbable only days if not hours earlier. So there goes all my hard work. Or does it?

Before I get into who I think the Redskins should pick with #9 and #25 (if there are no more trades) let me express my views on the trade that happened yesterday. This is definitely a gamble, and a risky one. In essence we have mortgaged our future to build a team now. Is next year’s 1st rounder and 4th rounder and this year’s 3rd worth giving up for a late first rounder in this year’s by all accounts weak draft? Have Joe Gibbs and the front office blown a fuse? What could be their thinking and why do it now when it could have been done draft day when we knew what player we would get?

Sadly I have no logical answers to any of these questions. All I can go on is a gut feeling that Gibbs and the front office more then not tends to make the right decisions, or at least they did last year. However last year they also got Brunell which is why there is a pit in the bottom of my stomach. Could this be the Brunell trade of this year? Well the simple answer is yes, any trade could backfire. But I don’t think so and let me explain why.

First off the Redskins are gambling that they will have a successful year this year. That means playoffs. A reasonable gamble, though some would say there is no evidence for it. According to Gibbs the value points of the #25 pick this year is 750 and they only gave up 715 points. But value points don’t mean much. You have to look at what they have done.

They spent the summer revamping their struggling offense, upgrading the receiving corp. (and yes Patten & Moss does equate to a better duo then Coles/Gardner) and beefing up center with Casey Rabach. However they lost Smoot and Pierce on Defense. Pierce is replaceable but Smoot like it or not left a minor hole. And the wide receivers we added were small and the Redskins had no real possession receiver. They ended the free agency period with 2 great needs, a possession receiver and a cornerback to groom into the starting role.

This is why they made the trade. They figured that they could plug the two remaining holes with quality ready to start rookies. Next year we will be having cap issues anyways and not having to worry about a first round signing will alleviate that issue somewhat. So this means the Redskins have to have a player in mind to move into that position.

ESPN is postulating the trade was done so Washington could select Jason Campbell out of Auburn. If that is the case then Gibbs has determined Ramsey is not the QB for the future of the Redskins. This goes against EVERYTHING Gibbs has stated for the last few years. Remember last year Gibbs did not trade Ramsey when Miami was offering a decent 1st round pick. This is before he knew how bad Brunell was. Ramsey played better last year as the season went along and I can not see Gibbs pulling the plug here. Gibbs may draft a QB but it would be in the 4th round, not the 1st. Otherwise he would have to trade Ramsey something he has been resistant too in the near past. We could not tie up that much cap space in QB and Ramsey has the only trade value. Gibbs in his press conference all but excluded trading Ramsey today so it is doubtful a QB will be drafted.

So what are Gibbs plans? Unless they trade out of #9 it is almost assured they are going to go cornerback. And #25 well that is a guess at best, but I am pretty sure they are going to try and solve their receiving problems. But I am betting on one of 2 players: WR/TE Matt Jones Arkansas, WR or (you guessed it) Heath Miller TE Virginia.

Why those two players? Logic dictates that the Redskins would not have made this trade so early unless they knew the player they wanted is going to be there. Many of the WR mentioned including Mark Clayton (Oklahoma) and Roddy White (UAB) are projected to go before that pick (To Baltimore #22 and Dallas #20 respectively). Heath Miller has been projected all along as going to the Jets at #26 and possibly Pittsburgh at #30. Matt Jones has been rumored to be coveted by Philadelphia at #30. There is a good possibility that one of these two players will be there at #25 and it fills a whole for the Redskins.

Now it is crunch time and looking at the lay of the land here are my picks and 5 reasons why they should be picked for #9 and #25.

At #9 Adam “Pac-Man” Jones CB W. Virginia

Corner is one of the Redskins draft priorities since losing Smoot. Harris may be able to start but neither Harris nor Springs are very young. We need a young corner to come in and start at nickel and eventually be groomed to take over on one of the islands. I would also be happy with Antrell Rolle (cb Miami) or Carlos Rodgers (cb Auburn) at this selection, but Rolle will be taken by Tenneseee at #6 and Jones is a better all around corner then Rogers.

Top 5 reasons to take Jones at #9

1.) The guy is pure speed.

Jones is listed as 5’ 9.5” and that may be generous. However he makes up for his size with an incredible closing burst. It may be a bit of a reach to compare him to Darrell Green but he is a corner back in his mode. Many people rate him as one of the fastest in the draft and he certainly played that way when the pads were on. With the New NFL rules speed and cover ability are going to mean more then size and strength. Jones may be the best there.

2.) An athletic tough tackler

He led his team with 76 tackles in 2004, 3 for a loss. He will remind some people of Smoot because he is not afraid to give up his body to make the play. He closes well and has pretty good wrap technique and doesn’t miss in the open field. He is also known for a bit of a nasty streak and explodes into hits. With run support a need for a Williams CB this could be a great addition to our D. He even had 2 sacks so he can blitz as well.

3.) Special Teams Special Teams Special Teams

If Jones starts out in the nickel, as he probably would, he could become our primary kick returner allowing us to save a couple of roster spots and some cap room by cutting Chad Morton and possibly Antonio Brown. Jones averaged 23.4 yards on kick returns and 14.8 yards on punt returns with a touchdown last year. He was feared every time the ball was kicked to him, and that is after playing defense full time.

4.) More corners the better

With Springs and Harris manning down the starting spot and up and comer Wilds able to play nickel it would almost seem a luxury to select Jones. Almost. In today’s NFL you are going with 3 corners almost 50% of the time and many times you need 4. Plus Springs and Wilds are getting up in age and injuries will necessitate a deep bench. After Wilds there is no one worth starting on the Redskin roster, and Wilds is not proven yet. Not only will Jones help us this year he is a great addition for years to come.

5.) “Pac-Man”

I really ran out of things to say here. But you gotta love the nickname. Perhaps we could adopt other 80’s video games for our defensive backfield. Walter “Dig Dug” Harris, Sean “Donkey Kong” Taylor, Matt “Missle Command” Bowen, Sean “Centipede” Springs, and of course Garnell “Q-bert” Wilds.

At #25 Heath Miller TE Virginia

It is a toss up between Matt Jones and Heath Miller for me. I have always advocated Miller should be selected after a trade down. Ironically I am advocating now after a trade up. We will get the best value for our pick selecting “Big Money”. Ironically both Miller and Jones are converted QBs. The difference is that Miller has played TE for his entire collegiate career. Jones is a raw athletic talent; however he has no real position and is probably more of a WR or H-back then TE. Miller has all the tools and would instantly improve our offense.

Top 5 reasons to select Miller at #25

1.) Importance of TE in the modern NFL

With the NFL cracking down on the 5 yard duck and chuck rules the TE has virtually exploded onto the NFL scene. A good receiving TE is now taking the place of the old Art Monk-type possession receivers. Why throw a lanky 6’ wide receiver over the middle when you can send a tank with soft hands there instead. Linebackers must now account for these behemoths before blitzing. CBs are overmatched by their power and if you assign a safety to them your wide outs can burn them for a TD.

TEs are also main run blockers, especially in the Gibbs offense. With the TE lining up next to Jon Jansen at Right Tackle and Randy Thomas at Right guard a majority of the time you can bet Gibbs is going to send a RB that way. The TE is one of the only positions on offense that participate directly in about every offensive play. Whether it is receiving, pass blocking, or run blocking the person playing it should be incredibly talented.

2.) The Redskins need an upgrade at TE.

This should not even be in dispute but yet it is. Part of that is that many Redskin fans don’t understand the Gibbs offense. The base formation of the Redskin offense are 5 down linemen, a QB under center, 2 Wide Outs, A TE lined up on the line, and an H-back that is often in motion lining upon on the line, in the backfield, and sometimes at WR. Many fans point immediately to Cooley as a reason we don’t need a TE, but Cooley plays the role of H-Back, and plays it well. Putting him on the line all the time would limit negate his speed.

That leaves us with Royal as our starting TE and that is not good enough. In the modern NFL your TE should not only be able to act like a 6th lineman but be able to separate and be a receiving threat as well. Royal is only an average receiver and is a below average blocker. Miller is an instant upgrade and will be a starter from day 1 of training camp.

3.) Miller is the Best TE in the draft

Not only is he the best, there is a large drop off after him. Miller led Virginia in receiving the last two years. He won the Mackey Award for best TE in the country in 2004. He was an All-American and All-Conference player each of the last two years. He has consistently played at a high level and is unanimously projected as a first round pick. His freshman year (2002) he had 33 catches for 327 yards (9.9 YPC) and 9 TDs. His sophomore year he had 70 catches for 835 yards (11.9 YPC) and 6 TDs. He dropped down a bit in 2004 but posted 41 catches for 541 yards (13.2 YPC) and 5 TDs but that could be because he had an inferior QB throwing to him. Regardless though his YPC increased each and every year.

Many people point to Heath’s injury as a possible reason not to take him. If it was not for his injury we would be easily talking about him in the top 15 of the draft. The injury is said to be healed by training camp. This is the same player who did not miss a game for his three active seasons, starting every game at TE from 2002-2004 for the Cavaliers. This injury is a fluke and not indicative of anything. He could be the most complete TE to come out in the last three years, blocking as well as receiving.

4.) Miller’s skills will immediately improve every phase of our beleaguered offense.

I truly think that offense is the number 1 priority for us this off-season. I know that we are lacking at CB but Springs, Harris, and Wilds are adequate corners in my opinion and can serve us well this year. Lemar Marshall will spend time learning the MLB position. Other then that we will be returning the same #3 defense in the league last year. Another year familiarity with the Williams D will far outweigh the lack of 2 minor players. Add to that the likely return of Lavar Arrington and Michael Barrow and the D can really be a force to reckon with.

So the question is how we fix the offense. We went out and addressed the WR situation, we upgraded the Center position. Now we need to take care of TE. Miller’s receiving skills are superior to not only the TEs on our team but many of the receiver’s as well. ESPN has postulated that perhaps Miller has the best hands in the draft. That is saying something. With smurfs at our starting WR we need a big target to go over the middle. Cooley and Miller can serve those roles.

Miller’s technically sound blocking skills can be used as well in both the passing and running games. He won ACC lineman of the week 4 times last year and 13 times over his career. Not bad for a TE. He needs to bulk up but has the frame to do so. He can get to the LBs and create room for Portis to spring one to the house. He can also pick up blitzing LBs with Ramsey in their target sites. Goal line situation immediately improve as well with Portis or Betts running behind Cooley to the right with Jansen Thomas and Miller there.

5.) Miller’s versatility will confuse opposing defenses and create mismatches.

There is an argument out there that we could just supplement our TE needs with lower round picks. They suggest taking a slobber knocker in the lower rounds to act as a blocking TE and let Royal line up in passing situations. This is failed logic at best. First off if our slobber knocker was in the game the LB and safety could virtually ignore cover responsibilities on him and can guess that is a run play. When Royal is in they can slide coverage over to accommodate him and perhaps send blitzers assuming it is a pass play. Sure Gibbs will throw in a couple of misdirection plays but that is only a couple times a game and you are playing against the strength of your personnel on the field. A TE capable of doing all three options, run blocking, pass blocking, and receiving will never tip off the defense and constantly keep them guessing.

Miller as a receiver also poses multiple dilemmas. Most defenses only have one cover LB. With Cooley and Miller on the field together and many times on opposite sides the LB will have to choose. The other player will either be covered by the strong safety or a nickel back. Both Cooley and Miller can school 75% of the line backers in the league. And both can use their size on any nickel back to get the catch and move the chains. This will mean both safeties will either be occupied by the duo of Cooley or Miller and one of our Wide Receivers will be open or we can move the sticks by hitting underneath patterns to our wide bodies.

So unless there are anymore blockbuster trades. That is my suggestion for the first round of the draft. In just a few days we will stop the guessing and start the second guessing. And it can’t come soon enough. We will finally start to see more or less what we have this year and look forward to training camp battles.

Bring on the draft I am ready to go.

I feel the same way, matt jones and heath miller both should be there and can upgrade our receiving tremendously. The weapon we really need

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My official guess is Rogers @ 9 (if williams isn't there) and Matt Jones @ 25. I think we need an explosive playmaker which jones can potentially bring. Royal came on strong late in the season and proved he could handle himself, which leads me to believe that we wouldn't draft Miller.

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Originally posted by forbeskin

My official guess is Rogers @ 9 (if williams isn't there) and Matt Jones @ 25. I think we need an explosive playmaker which jones can potentially bring. Royal came on strong late in the season and proved he could handle himself, which leads me to believe that we wouldn't draft Miller.

People are writing off Royal. I was very impressed with the way he played down the sctretch, basically when we had nothing to play for. He displayed that he could go out and make a catch or few and proved to be a great redzone threat. I think we can get away without signing another TE.

My ideal situation would be to trade down and take Rogers. Then take the best available DE with the second pick.

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Originally posted by Gibbs4Life

He won ACC lineman of the week 4 times last year and 13 times over his career. Not bad for a TE.

This makes it seem like he is as good of a blocker as the top offensive linemen. That is so not true.

Tight end is considered a lineman. He mostly got those awards for his receiving. When he wins Player of the Week, it's called Lineman of the Week because he's a lineman.

He's a good blocker, but not that good.

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I kinda agree with the guy and the logic. I always thought Cooley was a pretty descent TE. But also thought last year another TE with all the intangibles Miller has could surely be used. And some of the analogy the guy used for taking Miller really makes sense.

Not saying it's a sure thing we go with Miller. But if Matt JOnes is willing to convert to a TE would be pretty cool. But my question is how good of a blocker could Matt Jones be?

But in his logic and my thinking and observing from last year. Joe is probably thinking some of the same stuff. Cause frankly, some of the main reasons the offense struggled last year was due to it not being confusing to any one. In particular the defenses...Probably 90% of the time the defense could predict what play was gonna be ran or what type of play. Even Portis became so furious that even he thought the defenses knew the plays:laugh: . And yes! it would frustrate anyone if you thought the defense knew trhe plays because the offense wasn't fooling anyone. That and alot of help from Brunell. But even after ramsey took over. The defenses still knew most of the plays that were about to develop and were dead on during pursuit.

Now! what a more athletic type of TE sucj as Miller or Jones. The defenses as the guy explained would have to pick it's poison. Especially in a guy like Jones what tremendous speed. Even Miller would be a headache in the same role. But IMO, if we took jones he would defintely become an H-back move Cooley to the fulltime TE and even maybe Jones as an TE/WR. If it's Miller, than Miller becomes the fulltime TE and Cooley stay at the H-back position.

Either way, I can't see us losing with either one of the 2. But my problem with Jones would be if he's willing to completely convert to this type of position and how fast could he make the transition.

But if Jones were willing and a fast leaner. People, we would defintely have ourselves a beast at TE/WR/H-back.

Good thread guy and will thought out IMO regardless of what others may think. But again. IMO. This is the kind of logic that Joe himself would think about because Joe's gonna make his offense work. But first and foremost, I think he's begining to understand that he's gonna need a little more athletic type TE's and H-Back to make it work. And if both of those guys are pretty descent blockers as well as receivers. Then Joe 's gonna pull the trigger because he still loves TE/H-backs. But he never had any with the speed and qualities that the NFL players have in todays modern NFL. So I can see this happenning...

If not, then we go CB with the 9th pick like most of you guys stated and WR at #25 if not TE Miller or the guy Matt Jones..

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I agree with a lot he said and Miller would be a very nice pick at 25 but I still think Jones would be even more of a problem for a D. I have seen this guy play and if used in the capacity that Gibbs used Art Monk, Jones would be the more lethal of the two IMO. Remember Monk guys? He was also a QB/RB before converting to WR and he had great athletic ability but no where near the speed of Jones and was 3 inches shorter. Jones can be the H-back/WR in almost every play with Cooley being the full time TE. Imagine Jones in motion. Do you guys think a LB can cover him? No way if you are a D-coordinator you have a LB in there to cover. You almost have to play the entire game with 5 backs but the problem is no CB can jam him at the line because

A: he is way too big and

B: he is faster than most backs in the NFL.

And I mean how many teams have CBs that can run 44.-4.5 40s? I don't know of a lot of teams with their entire CBs than have this kind of speed and playing the skins with Jones in there you need at least 3 CB with that kind of quickness because we will have 2 WRs (Moss and Patten) that are that Quick and a H-back/WR Jones that is probably quicker. Lets not forget Jacobs either he may figure into this. Now through all this analysis we haven't mentioned the true benefit which would be that teams against us can't afford to put 8 defenders in the box anymore. With Jansen back, Cooley in there blocking, the WRs going to town, Portis will have some huge holes to explore and we all know once he is through its good for 8-10 yards each time minimum. Then the fun really starts. Once a D comes up to stop him the play-action play would be murder with a license. Can you imagine Moss or Patten or Jacobs or Jones with one-on-one coverage without safety help? This is why I think Gibbs made this trade because after seeing Jones he knows the possibilities are endless. Miller would also be just as dangerous but not for the big play and really guys Cooley is just about a carbon copy of Miller only maybe not as good as blocker but this is his second year and I think he could adapt very well. The only question remaining is how good is Matt Jones in catching the ball. We know he can run with it (he run for more yards in collage that Vick) and we know he is huge and can jump like a cat (39 inches vertical and he is 6.6, who the hell can defend a jump ball against him). If he can catch (and being a college basketball player makes me think he can no problem) then this guy could just be a monster receiver, our new faster Art Monk.

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Nice write up... I like the IDEA of an all-local-boys draft, Jones or Merriman and Miller but only problem I see is the lack of blocking from Miller...

IMO we need a mauler up front for our running game and Miller is not that guy. Now if Musgrave was brought in to help evolve or alter Gibbs' offense...well then Miller make a lot more sense.

I agree that we need a possession receiver, we have our speed guys (Moss, Jacobs, Patten) so Williams and the lower 1st corner or Jones and the lower round guy like Miller or Jones would make sense.

THose looking to draft the speedy guys need to take a closer look, but however it plays out, Its gonna be interesting, thats for sure!

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Originally posted by Mister Happy

He's a good blocker, but not that good.

That's why we have the best coaching staff in the league. ;) To teach Heath how to block. He sure has the body, strenght and smarts for it. Shockey couldn't block when he came into the league either, now he is pretty damn good.

I saw a clip of Al Groh (UVA coach and former Jets coach) say that he's never seen a player more "ready" for the NFL. I know all you naysayers will say that it's his coach that's why he said it, but I think Groh is a pretty down to earth and trustworthy guy. I buy it.

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I think this guy is over rating our WR's and Heath Miller's blocking ability to suit his argument. Miller has been described as a "willing" blocker but never a great or even very good blocker. I don't mind taking another TE, but I would take Miller's back up, the 6'6" former basketball player and better blocking Patrick Estes. He has decent hands too, Miller was just flat out elite, that's why he started. Estes could be had in the very late rounds.

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