In­stant draft grades fun but mean­ing­less

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - DERON SNY­DER

Nu­mer­ous com­mon say­ings that have been around for­ever are flatout wrong. For in­stance, “time heals all wounds.” That’s only true in cer­tain cases when time in­cludes death. Be­cause we know some folks never get over the hurt of old griev­ances and failed re­la­tion­ships, car­ry­ing that pain to the grave.

Wash­ing­ton’s team is on the clock en­ter­ing the 2017 NFL draft, the first since sup­posed sav­ior Scot McCloughan was fired as gen­eral man­ager. McCloughan’s twoyear stint spawned a phrase that grew in pop­u­lar­ity as the team grew in cred­i­bil­ity: “In Scot we trust.”

But that id­iom turned out to be id­i­otic, like the one that de­clares words can never hurt you, only sticks and stones.

Putting faith in McCloughan meant putting be­lief in team owner Dan Sny­der and team pres­i­dent Bruce Allen. Shame on us for do­ing so; the dud of a duo had fooled us way more than twice be­fore McCloughan ar­rived.

Maybe we’re among the seg­ment of peo­ple that can be snook­ered all the time.

Nev­er­the­less, the NFL draft al­ways brings re­newed hope, a sense of ex­cite­ment trig­gered by the un­known. Nev­er­mind that plenty of gems can be found on the streets af­ter the draft ends Satur­day. One of the league’s all-time most notable un­drafted play­ers, Tony Romo, just en­tered the broad­cast booth. Other stars deemed un­fit for a pick still en­joyed NFL suc­cess, in­clud­ing Su­per Bowl hero Mal­colm But­ler, nine­time Pro Bowler Ja­son Peters and fu­ture

Hall-of-Famer An­to­nio Gates.

Wash­ing­ton un­cov­ered a cou­ple of un­drafted nuggets in mid­dle line­backer Will Comp­ton, whose 60 tack­les last sea­son tied for sec­ond-most on the team, and half­back Robert Kel­ley, whose av­er­age gain per carry (4.2 yards) was equal to Ari­zona’s David Johnson, the league’s sev­enth-lead­ing rusher.

Pick­ing through the dis­card bin is great, like go­ing on a scav­enger hunt. Hit­ting a few sur­prises can im­pact the bot­tom line more than late-round finds, which are the equiv­a­lent of thrift shop­ping. Your team can brag for­ever if it rolls a Dak Prescott in the fourth or hits the Powerball on a Tom Brady in the sixth.

Wash­ing­ton fans had rea­son to ex­pect such suc­cess with McCloughan in the fold. But the short-lived era will go down as a blip on the fran­chise’s trou­bled jour­ney since Sny­der as­sumed own­er­ship in 1999. Allen came aboard in 2010, and the public’s “no con­fi­dence” votes are only mount­ing.

The good news, though, is wins and losses are sub­jec­tive on draft day. Much will be made of which player goes to Cleve­land at No. 1 and who Allen and Co. take at No. 17 — as­sum­ing trades don’t make a mock­ery of the mocks. Ev­ery team’s haul will be an­a­lyzed and given a grade.

But the truth is, fi­nal scores are of­ten a few years down the road, some­times af­ter play­ers reach their third or fifth team.

You never would guess this, but Wash­ing­ton wasn’t half-bad in re­cent drafts be­fore McCloughan. Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle in The Wash­ing­ton Post and a for­mula cre­ated by Pro Foot­ball Ref­er­ence, the fran­chise’s last five drafts have out­per­formed ex­pec­ta­tions. The as­sess­ment is based on the Ap­prox­i­mate Value play­ers should de­liver, from the No. 1 over­all pick all the way down to Mr. Ir­rel­e­vant at draft’s end.

McCloughan’s class last year in­cluded first-round pick Josh Doct­son, who played only two games. The rook­ies un­der­per­formed as a whole (-5.7 in AV), but each of the prior four classes posted pos­i­tive numbers: +5.2 in 2015; +6 in 2014; +5.3 in 2013; and +29.4 in 2012.

Wash­ing­ton’s direc­tor of col­lege scout­ing, Scott Campbell, has run things in Ash­burn for the last sev­eral weeks. Se­lec­tions will be the cul­mi­na­tion of group dis­cus­sions that cre­ated the draft board. Allen gets the fi­nal say on trades (and prob­a­bly ev­ery­thing else when he sees fit).

Like Allen, Campbell is a long­time foot­ball man and son of a former NFL coach. I guess we shouldn’t hold the lengthy ten­ure with Wash­ing­ton — 17 years over two stints — against him. Six of Campbell’s seven first-round picks since 2006 were Pro Bowlers (Bran­don Scherff, Robert Grif­fin III, Ryan Ker­ri­gan, Trent Williams, Brian Orakpo and LaRon Landry).

We can rush to judg­ment all we want af­ter the week­end. Campbell knows bet­ter and he’ll wait.

“It takes a cou­ple of years to de­velop a class,” he told re­porters this week. “Peo­ple are say­ing the ’14 class had some suc­cess. Well, if I read ar­ti­cles and see what hap­pened and what was said right af­ter that draft, our grades in the mock drafts were not very good. It takes time.”

That brings to mind an­other pop­u­lar say­ing that Skins fans pray is true, es­pe­cially when they con­sider the front of­fice shake-up, Kirk Cousins’ con­tract mess and Sny­der’s con­tin­ued pres­ence:

“Good things come to those who wait.”

OK. But here’s hop­ing the Bur­gundy and Gold don’t need a Cubs-like 108 years af­ter this draft.

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