Redskins’ 5 best, worst first-round picks

WASHINGTON — Who are the best and worst first-rounders in Redskins draft history? Here’s a look at the top and bottom five.

Day 1 of the NFL Draft is generally a symbol of hope for a team’s future. The best of the available young college talent is up for grabs and each team with a pick has a crack at it. On Thursday, the Washington Redskins (barring a trade) will presumably use the 17th overall pick to add a blue chip defensive player to help improve a defense that ranked just 28th last season. In theory. The ‘Skins might instead take a running back. Or a wide receiver. Or they’ll figuratively set this city’s sports talk stations ablaze by taking a quarterback to replace the good-but-not-good-enough Kirk Cousins. Such choices factor into this list. For example, Rod Gardner (pictured above) was by all accounts a bust as the 15th overall pick in 2001. He lasted just four years in Washington after failing to produce more than Santana Moss, Chad Johnson, Steve Smith and Reggie Wayne — all great receivers selected after him. But Gardner didn’t quite make the cut as one of the five worst first-rounders in Redskins history, because he topped 1,000 receiving yards in 2002 and was moderately productive in Burgundy and Gold. This list is for first-rounders who had little-to-no production and were thus wasted picks. Here are those five picks, presented in no particular order. Once we wade through this muck, I’ll let you know the criteria for the five best first-round picks. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Andre Johnson (30th overall in 1996) This offensive tackle out of Penn State was supposed to be the heir apparent to Jim Lachey, but instead never played a single down as a Redskin and made only three appearances as a Detroit Lion. He’s not only one of the biggest busts in Redskins history…he’s one of the biggest busts in NFL history. (Photo by Al Tielemans /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
Heath Shuler (3rd overall in 1994) How bad was Heath? He was benched for a 7th round pick (Gus Frerotte), completed fewer than half of his passes and threw six fewer touchdowns than interceptions as a Redskin (13-19 TD-INT ratio). His selection is often credited with setting the franchise back decades. You know you’re a bust when ‘Skins fans can say, “I wish we took Trent Dilfer instead” with a straight face. (AP Photo/Charles Agel, File)
Desmond Howard (4th overall in 1992) How does a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP make this list? Because he did those things as a special teamer in Green Bay. As a wide receiver and a top five pick, Howard was a massive disappointment. His 66 catches for 1,033 yards and five TDs would have been a nice rookie season…but it was his entire three-year career in Washington. (Getty Images/Jed Jacobsohn)
Ralph Guglielmi (4th overall in 1955) Don Allard (4th overall in 1959) and Cal Rossi (9th overall in 1946) were worse picks (neither ever played a down of NFL football, let alone for the Redskins), but the Guglielmi selection looms especially large because 15 Pro Bowlers were selected after him and Johnny Unitas was picked eight rounds later. Ouch. (AP Photo)
Charlie Gogolak (6th overall in 1966) One of the worst NFL Draft sins is taking a kicker in the first round. Gogolak is the reason that became conventional wisdom. The first kicker ever selected in the first round had a good rookie year but lasted only three years in Washington, making a woeful 56 percent of his kicks. Gogolak’s career highlight was combining with his brother Pete to score 14 extra points in the Redskins’ 72-41 victory over the New York Giants in a November 1966 game. (AP Photo)
Phew…that was rough. Time to cleanse the palette. Admittedly, selecting the five best first-rounders in Redskins history is a lot easier. First, because they rarely have them: Between 1969 and 1990, the ‘Skins had just two first-round picks. Two. Fortunately, they hit big with both, selecting future Hall-of-Famers and Super Bowl winners Art Monk (1980) and Darrell Green (1983). Speaking of Monk…he’s the exception to the only real rule I had for this list: Play an entire, distinguished career as a Washington Redskin. Monk left D.C. as the NFL’s all-time leading receiver, so I’m pretty sure you understand why he’s here. All but one of these five players is a Hall-of-Famer so let’s end this on a high note. (Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel)
Art Monk (18th overall in 1980) Monk is one of the most beloved Redskins of all time, playing on all three Super Bowl winners and retiring as the NFL’s all-time leader in catches (940). Though it took a ridiculously long time for him to get enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Monk was one of the most consistent receivers in NFL history. He was the first player to top 100 catches in a season, first to record a touchdown in 15 straight seasons and first to catch a pass in 180 consecutive games. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
Darrell Green (28th overall in 1983) Green might be one of the greatest first-round value picks of all time. A cornerback lasting 20 seasons with one team may never be replicated, especially at his level of production. Green was a two-time Super Bowl winner that made seven Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams, not to mention his Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 1996 and spot on the 1990s All-Decade Team. Perhaps most remarkably, he kept his trademark speed all the way to the end of his career at age 42 (and beyond) and became the first player to record an interception in 19 straight seasons. (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)
Charley Taylor (3rd overall in 1964) Taylor played all 13 of his NFL seasons in Washington and did so at a time when black players on the Redskins roster were few and far between. He also retired as the NFL’s all-time leading receiver 14 years before Monk did so (the picture above is Taylor’s 634th reception to top Don Maynard’s record in 1975), notching 649 catches in an era not conducive to big numbers in the passing game. Taylor stuck with the franchise even after retirement, spending time with Bobby Mitchell in the team’s front office before becoming a receivers coach under Joe Gibbs and Richie Petitbon. (AP Photo)
Chris Samuels (3rd overall in 2000) Samuels was durable (141 games in 10 seasons), dominant (six-time Pro Bowler) and a model citizen off the field. If the Redskins weren’t so terrible in the 2000s, he would have been a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. (Photo by Bob Levey/NFLPhotoLibrary)
Sammy Baugh (6th overall in 1937) I know I said I’m not doing this in any particular order, but in this case, I’ve saved the best for last. Baugh is perhaps the single greatest player in NFL history, retiring with 13 league records at three different positions. In addition to being the first QB to excel at the forward pass, he was an All-Pro punter and safety, becoming the only player in NFL history to lead the league in passing, punting and interceptions in the same season. No wonder he’s the only Redskin to get his number retired. (AP Photo)
Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on

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