Commentary

McNabb deal has deep draft impact

Originally Published: April 4, 2010
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

The stunning news that the Philadelphia Eagles traded quarterback Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins will cause a major reshuffling in the NFL draft.

The first person impacted is Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who appeared to be destined to go to Washington as the fourth pick in the first round. With Sam Bradford expected to go No. 1 to the St. Louis Rams, Clausen could now fall to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 5 and be reunited with former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who is now the Chiefs' offensive coordinator. With the fourth pick in the draft, the Redskins can select offensive tackle Russell Okung of Oklahoma State.

Clausen also could fall to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 6 in the first round, but they might have to pass on him and take Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams because of their desperate need to improve the offensive line. If the Redskins take Okung and the Chiefs take Williams, the Seahawks could be left with the third and fourth options at tackle: Anthony Davis of Rutgers and Bryan Bulaga of Iowa.

That would leave the Seahawks with the option of taking Clausen even though they have Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst under contract. If they decided to pass on Clausen and the two remaining tackles, they could select safety Eric Berry of Tennessee.

Clausen then would be under consideration for the Cleveland Browns at No. 7 or the Buffalo Bills at No. 9. Browns president Mike Holmgren indicated the Browns intend to draft a quarterback, although when referring to Clausen in the past, Holmgren has said, "I wish I liked him more."

The losers in the McNabb trade are the other quarterbacks in the draft, particularly Colt McCoy of Texas and Tim Tebow of Florida. McCoy and Tebow were hoping to draw interest from the Browns and the Bills in the second round, but if one of the teams takes Clausen in the first round, McCoy and Tebow could drop.

What was clear from the McNabb trade is that the Redskins and coach Mike Shanahan got the best of both worlds. They were able to get a franchise quarterback in McNabb and be in position to draft a tackle to replace Chris Samuels in the first round. Finding a tackle is a priority and it might have been tough in the second round.

The possibility existed that four tackles could have been selected among the top nine picks in the draft. The Redskins had no guarantee they could get USC tackle Charles Brown or Indiana tackle Rodger Saffold with their 37th overall pick.

A possible winner from the move could be the San Francisco 49ers, who were hoping one of four top tackles could fall to them with the 13th pick in the first round. The 49ers, who also have the 17th pick, may have been forced to take a defensive player or possibly running back C.J. Spiller with the 13th pick if Okung, Williams, Davis and Bulaga were off the board. To get an offensive lineman, they might have had to settle for an interior blocker such as Mike Iupati or Maurkice Pouncey.

Their hope would be for the Bills to take Clausen with the ninth pick, allowing Bulaga to fall to them at No. 13.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer