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Redskins Must Decide Whether to Go Forth At No. 4

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Thumb through the Bible and this phrase pops up often: Go forth.

"Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk."

"Let us go forth therefore unto him..."

"Go forth and multiply."

When the NFL Draft unfolds on Thursday night, the Redskins hope they can be fruitful and multiply their number of victories last season by fortifying the roster. The problem is going fourth.

The Redskins hold the fourth overall selection. Conventional wisdom says a team picking in that lofty area gets the chance to acquire a franchise player, a building block, an anchor for tomorrow.

History says otherwise. The fourth spot has not yielded much in the way of milk and honey. It is not the promised land.

Now the chances of the Redskins actually getting a great player with the fourth pick hinge on a number of things. One is making use of that pick, rather than trading it.

The other is the real odds. It's 50-50. Either the player makes good or he does not. Yet the fourth pick seems to be one marked over the years by failure.

We can't judge linebacker Aaron Curry right now. The Seattle Seahawks picked him fourth last year and he started the first 14 games before an injury sidelined him. He was in on 61 tackles and had two sacks for a team that eventually sacked its coach.

In 2008, the Oakland Raiders chose running back Darren McFadden. Other than some brief flashes, injuries and a terrible surrounding cast, consign him to the dustbin of history … at least for now.

In 2007, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted defensive end Gaines Adams. They gave up on him in 2009 after a coaching change and traded him to the Chicago Bears. Adams tragically passed away of a heart condition in mid-January.

The New York Jets found a marquee left tackle in D'Brickashaw Ferguson in 2006 and he made the Pro Bowl in 2009. For the first two years of his career, however, the New York vipers openly derided him as a bust. The club's acquisition of left guard Alan Faneca as a free agent in 2008 helped Ferguson settle in and settle down.

The Bears selected running back Cedric Benson in 2005 and cut him after three undistinguished seasons and some off-the-field nonsense. Benson rebuilt his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, rushing for 1,251 yards last year.

Ah, 2004. The New York Giants chose quarterback Philip Rivers and he has been outstanding ... for the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers, with the No. 1 overall pick, grabbed the reluctant Eli Manning. They traded him to the Giants for Rivers and a buffet table of other picks that eventually turned out to be linebacker Shawne Merriman and kicker Nate Kaeding.

In 2003, the Jets took defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson. He's out of the league.

In 2002, the Buffalo Bills picked offensive tackle Mike Williams, an immediate starter at right tackle. They cut him after four seasons and he spent another on injured reserve with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He made a successful comeback with the Redskins last year as a guard.

With so much focus on the Redskins' need for a left tackle, we'd be remiss in not looking at more history of the fourth spot.

Prior to Ferguson, we'd need the Wayback Machine to transport us to 1996, when Baltimore tabbed Jonathan Ogden, though NFL.com's records say the Ravens chose him as a guard. Ogden played left tackle at UCLA and was the first-ever pick of the reborn Baltimore franchise. He was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times in a 12-year career as one of the game's finest left tackles ever.

The last time a left tackle went in the fourth spot before Ogden? Paul Gruber, to the Buccaneers in 1988. Gruber's career lasted until 1999 and he started every game in which he played (183), missing only nine over 12 years.

After a 4-12 season, an overhaul of the front office and a coaching change, the Redskins certainly expect to go forth. But should they actually go fourth?


Larry Weisman, an award-winning journalist during 25 years with USA TODAY, writes for Redskins.com and appears nightly on Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at Redskinsrule.com and follow him on Twitter.com/LarryWeisman.

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