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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Numerous common sayings that have been around forever are flat-out 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 two-year 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. Never mind 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, nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters and future Hall-of-Famer Antonio Gates.

Washington in recent years has 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 under-performed 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, 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.

⦁ Brooklyn-born and Howard-educated, Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.


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