The 5th Round is Money for the Redskins?

Every NFL team has swings-and-misses in the first round, never mind the fifth round but the Redskins who 'only' got a fifth last week for Quinton Dunbar have an interesting history.
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Last week the Redskins made significant use of two fifth-round draft choices.

First the Redskins traded their fifth-round choice in this year’s 2020 NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers.

In exchange the Panthers gave the Redskins’ new head coach one of his old quarterbacks, Kyle Allen.

Later that afternoon, the Redskins sent unhappy and talkative (on social media) cornerback Quinton Dunbar to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for a fifth-round draft choice in the upcoming draft.

Next thing you know Redskins fans were on Twitter striking their keyboards rather aggressively, upset the Redskins had threatened last season’s quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and that the Redskins had allowed themselves to settle for only a round five choice for Dunbar.

Within hours, Redskins fans were on Twitter informing us of how good or bad some recent fifth-round choices had been for the Redskins.

What did I find when researching Redskin fifth-round choices in the last 20 years?

Guard Ross Pierschbacher and linebacker Cole Holcomb both arrived in round five in 2019.

Holcomb actually started 15 games and was in on 74 solo tackles 31 assists.

Six of Holcomb’s tackles were for a loss; he forced three fumbles and recorded one sack.

Pierschbacher on the other hand only appeared in five games, and saw so little action at guard last season, how are we to know what to think?

There should be no debate that defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis (2016) is the best fifth-round selection.

In his four seasons, Ioannidis gets a good push up front and has recorded 20.5 sacks.

Matt Ioannidis PB Vote

Chris Thompson (2013) was the second best fifth-round choice for Washington.

If Thompson could have been healthy more often, his talent and speed, would have resulted in more big plays.

Tim Settle (2018) has provided a few glimpses of what might possibly transpire, but at this point, the verdict is still out on Settle.

Jeremy Sprinkle (2017) perhaps second to only Josh Norman (a fifth round pick of the Carolina Panthers) this off season, has taken the most verbal abuse from Redskins fans.

Most fans seem to want him out of the lineup; some even want him off of the team.

Sprinkle may be fighting to keep a job this season.

Jay Gruden loved Ryan Grant (2014); however, there was not the sustained results from Grant to justify keeping him, and he departed via free agency in 2018.

Niles Paul (2011) played hard and well on special teams, but most would agree, at the end of the day, Paul was average.

As were Robert Royal and Andre Lott (2002), Anthony Montgomery (2006), DeJon Gomes (2011) and Martrell Spaight (2015).

Did you know Royal only caught 31 passes in three Redskins season averaging a mere 8.0 yards a reception, then moved to Buffalo catching 81 passes in three seasons, including an impressive 37 for first downs?

Darnerien McCants (2001) was a wide receiver who excited me  several times with his play.

McCants in 2003 “caught” our attention in receiving 27 passes, six of which were touchdowns!

But after a disappointing 2004, McCants was gone and out of the league after the 2005 season.

Several fifth-round choices never achieved any success for the Redskins.

Quincy Sanders (2000), Mark Wilson (2004), Robert McCune (2005), Dallas Sartz (2007), Cody Glenn (2009), Adam Gettis (2012).

I know I said 20 years, but how can I write this story and not at least mention Timmy Smith (1987)?

Smith did not start a game that rookie season, playing behind George Rogers and Kelvin Bryant.

With Rogers worn down, Smith got the start in Super Bowl XXII and rushed for 204 yards on only 22 carries.

However, Smith was not the same in 1988 averaging only 3.0 yards a carry, and was released.

Ironically it was two other players who first came to mind when I first considered Redskins fifth-round choices. So, I save the best for last.

Because of their success, I’ve always recalled Dexter Manley (1981) and Brian Mitchell (1990) were drafted in round five.

Manley was a fast, strong athlete; a beast on kick coverage his rookie season, and then starting at defensive end the next eight seasons, he got to the quarterback for 91 sacks!

You might want to read that sentence again.

Sadly, Manley succumbed to drugs and cut his career short a couple of seasons.

Mitchell was instantly exciting and full of intensity; twice leading the NFL with two touchdown punt returns in a season.

The former college quarterback, in ten seasons with the Redskins, rushed for 9 touchdowns in his 352 attempts averaging 5.0 yard per carry.

Catching 232 passes for 2,087 yards, Mitchell averaged 9.0 yards a reception, coming out of the backfield.

In his last game as a Redskin, a 1999 playoff game at Tampa, Mitchell returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

So, what comes in a Redskin fifth-round draft choice?

Well, in the last 40 years, they have had two great ones (Manley and Mitchell) and one really good one Ioannidis (2016).

Yes, it’s possible in the 2020 Draft in round five, the Redskins really could select a great player.

Sure, hope for the best Redskins fans; but please, will you be realistic?

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Ivan Lambert is a lifelong die-hard Washington Redskins fan, raised in Berryville, Virginia. He is married and the father of two fine young men. He is currently a sports correspondent for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida and can be found on Twitter @IvanLambert18