The Washington Redskins wrapped up the 2011 NFL Draft with their annual draft day party at FedEx Field on April 30.

To the delight of many in attendance, fans were treated to performances from the Redskins marching band and cheerleaders as well as a tour of the locker room and a meet-and-greet with a selection of Redskins players, past and present. Barbecue, children’s games and a live audio feed of the remaining rounds of the draft also helped to entertain the many families who came to FedEx Field a beautiful spring day in Landover, Md.

Both die-hard fans and more casual supporters are among those who attend Washington’s annual draft celebration. However, with all eyes focused on the 2011 season, both groups were all smiles over Washington’s latest coup of prospects.

“I like the approach,” said longtime Redskins fan Dennard Marbury. “We normally trade away our picks to get some guy who used to be a superstar. Then, they come in here and stink so we’re back to the drawing board. Change is great.”

Marbury’s references to what appears to be a new draft design by Washington. Through a series of maneuvers, the Redskins selected a total of 12 players in this year’s draft, the highest number of any team and their biggest collection since 1982.

“We did extremely well,” said Gary Jones, Sr., draft day party attendee and 62-year-old Redskin devotee. “When you draft that many players, something has got to stick. Hopefully these young guys can come in and contribute.”

Washington’s 2011 draft will go down as the year the team returned to basics and refocused on the draft. This year’s haul, led by first-round pick Ryan Kerrigan, is an assortment of talented and hardworking players who will have a legitimate shot at playing time as the team’s roster undergoes some major transition. After releasing running back Clinton Portis in late February, and with the expected releases this summer of last year’s prize addition, quarterback Donovan McNabb, and 2009’s big splash, Albert Haynesworth, the Redskins are in the market for a new team identity.

With 12 new prospects and a collection of young, talented stars including Brian Orakpo, Trent Williams and LaRon Landry returning, Washington is set to enter the 2011 season as a team well on its way to rebuilding. The Redskins still haven’t found their quarterback of the future, but all signs point to a team finally headed in the right direction.

“I felt we got 12 quality players and improved the overall depth of our team,” Washington coach Mike Shanahan told reporters. “You’re not going to be able to address all of your needs, but we have a board and we stayed true to that and drafted some good players.”

Washington’s 2011 draft class is listed below:

First Round, No. 16 (from Jacksonville): Ryan Kerrigan, DE/LB, Purdue
Second Round, No. 41: Jarvis Jenkins, DE/DT, Clemson
Third Round, No. 79 (from Miami): Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami
Fourth Round, No. 105 (from Houston): Roy Helu, RB, Nebraska
Fifth Round, No. 146 (from Miami): DeJon Gomes, DB, Nebraska
Fifth Round, No. 155 (from New Orleans): Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska
Sixth Round, No. 177: Evan Royster, RB, Penn State
Sixth Round, No. 178 (from Houston): Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU
Seventh Round, No. 213: Brandyn Thompson, DB, Boise State
Seventh Round, No. 217 (from Miami): Maurice Hurt, OL, Florida
Seventh Round, No. 224 (from Indianapolis): Markus White, LB, Florida State
Seventh Round, No. 253 (compensatory): Chris Neild, DT, West Virginia

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO