There's a line of thinking that the Redskins' best hope is to trade up whatever picks are necessary this coming April to get in a position to select Baylor QB Robert Griffin III and secure their franchise quarterback of the present and future.
It's not flawed reasoning in that the Redskins have a glaring need there and that the Heisman Trophy-winning QB appears to have terrific physical skills and a bright pro future.
But if we use the Redskins' 2011 draft as a matrix for future scouting, perhaps the team should hang on to their picks — or add more. For years, the Redskins developed a reputation for devaluing the draft and mortgaging their future in the form of trading their picks, building through free agency and losing at the chance for compensatory picks by spending so freely.
Last season, however, the team took a more measured approach. They made several trades on Draft Weekend, including one deal from the No. 10 pick down to 16 in a move that netted the Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert and the Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan. Unpopular with some fans at the time, the move looks rather savvy — even if it didn't net the Redskins their quarterback — as Gabbert struggled and Kerrigan played close to a Pro Bowl level as a rookie and appears to be the starter opposite Brian Orakpo for years to come.
Kerrigan was not the only success story among the Redskins' 12 draft picks. With Kerrigan, DE Jarvis Jenkins, WR Leonard Hankerson and RB Roy Helu, the team figures to have netted four 2012 starters or heavy contributors. Add in quality reserves in S DeJon Gomes, RB Evan Royster, WR Niles Paul, OG Maurice Hurt and NT Chris Neild, and you're looking at quite a haul. Whatever RS-WR Aldrick Robinson, CB Brandyn Thompson and OLB Markus White add would be gravy to what looks like a fine class just one year later.
Having that kind of draft success two years in a row is difficult in the NFL, but clearly the Redskins have the wherewithal to produce a smart, deep class of talent. Although quarterback remains a pressing concern — perhaps the biggest difference between competing and missing the playoffs — there are other needs that must be addressed for the Redskins to climb the NFC East ladder.