Looking back at drafts with the benefit of hindsight is an annual April game that’s equally entertaining and addicting. Example: Jake Long is an elite offensive tackle, and has been selected for a trip to Hawaii after each of his four years as a pro. But the Dolphins wouldn’t be forced to consider a possible reach for Ryan Tannehill Thursday night had they taken Matt Ryan in 2008 with their first overall pick instead of Long. So what’s more important, a guy to protect the guy throwing the ball, or having a quarterback who’s worth protecting?
That’s one of the most debated recent examples of draft hindsight. Finding a definitive answer for the meaning of love would probably be much easier. The act of scrolling through drafts is what produces those countless hours of debate each spring, but we’re rarely given a look inside draft war rooms for the true tales of trades lost amid the chaos.
Vinny Cerrato, the former Redskins general manager and silverscreen superstar in the box office hit Kindergarten Ninja, was quite candid during a recent radio interview when he talked about a trade whiff under his watch in Washington. Quick, grab a wooden spoon to bite on before you read what’s below, ‘Skins fans.
From the D.C. Sports Bog:
“I remember one time we had a trade, we were in the second round and had a trade done. I called Stump Mitchell the running back coach, I said ‘Stump, I can trade right now, I can get the second-round pick. We can take Shady McCoy. Do you want him? I can get it done. We’re on the clock. I’m on the phone.’ He said, ‘No, I don’t want him.’ I said okay. I said I’m not trading for a guy if my position coach does not want the guy.”
That was during a far away time in 2009, when the Redskins had already traded their own second-round pick for Jason Taylor. And as he tells it, Cerrato had a prime opportunity to move back into the second round to take McCoy, and he made his decision to pass almost solely based on the direction of his position coach.
Perhaps–and I’m going out on a limb here–there should have been a more even balance between the thoughts of the position coach, and Cerrato’s own instincts on the player developed through draft research, instincts that may or may not have existed.
Since then the Redskins have had to trust Mike Shanahan’s ability to turn a beer vendor into an All Pro running back, and due to injuries, performance, and age they’ve been forced to endure a carousel of Ryan Torain, Clinton Portis, Roy Helu, and Tim Hightower. Meanwhile, McCoy has rushed for 3,026 yards over three years for a division rival, including 1,309 in 2011 to go along with 315 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns.
Hindsight can provide more than just clarity in late April, and it can instead lead to bitter depression. Don’t worry, Washington, RG3 will be there soon.