The NFL Draft has been productive avenue for teams to acquire franchise players and build – or rebuild – a roster.
Last April, the Redskins drafted a dozen players hoping to generate more competition and fill roster spots.
As fans know, the Redskins have a history of taking advantage of free agency to bring in impact players. With free agency on hold due to the ongoing labor situation, the draft was the best way for the Redskins to add talent to the roster.
Looking back at the last decade, who are some of the top Redskins draft picks? Redskins.com offers up a top five.
5. Chris Cooley, TE, 2004 (Round 3 – 81st Overall)
Chris Cooley was the sixth tight end taken in the 2004 NFL Draft. Kellen Winslow Jr. (first round), Benjamin Watson (first round), Ben Troupe (second round), Kris Wilson (second round) and Ben Hartsock (third round) were all taken before Cooley. Call them the Cooley Five, if you like.
Cooley has posted 33 touchdowns in his seven-year career. Winslow has 21 career touchdowns, while the other four have combined for 36.
Cooley has played in all 16 games in six of his seven seasons with the Redskins. His 420 catches is one behind Jerry Smith for the franchise's career reception record for a tight end. He has had two seasons with 800 receiving yards and five seasons with 730 receiving yards.
Cooley's production on the field has made him a consistent part of the offense for seven seasons, and counting. His personality off the field has made him a fan favorite.
4. LaVar Arrington, LB, 2000 (Round 1 – 2nd Overall)
The Redskins had the second and third overall picks in the 2000 NFL Draft. With their first pick, they took a two-time All American college football player in LaVar Arrington from Penn State.
Arrington played in 79 games for the Redskins in his six seasons in Washington before playing his final year in New York for the division rival Giants.
He represented the Redskins with three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, amassing 395 tackles, 22.5 sacks and three interceptions. His 11 sacks in 2002 were tied for ninth in the NFL that season.
3. Brian Orakpo, LB, 2009 (Round 1 – 13th Overall)
Although Brian Orakpo has only played two seasons in the burgundy and gold, he has proven himself to be a Pro Bowl linebacker. And he can only get better.
Orakpo was drafted as a defensive lineman out of Texas, but he transitioned to outside linebacker with the Redskins.
In two seasons, Orakpo has missed only one game. He has logged 106 tackles and 19.5 sacks. In 2009, his 11 sacks led all rookies, including defensive end Tyson Jackson who went third overall to Kansas City and linebacker Clay Matthews who went 26th overall to Green Bay.
Orakpo should be a quality pass rusher on the Redskins' defense for years to come.
2. Sean Taylor, S, 2004 (Round 1 – 5th Overall)
Sean Taylor was one of the most dominant safeties in the NFL – until he was tragically murdered by intruders in his Miami home in November 2007.
Taylor was a ball-hawk and heavy hitter in the secondary, pushing around receivers like Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. In three-and-a-half seasons with the Redskins, he posted 299 tackles, 12 interceptions, 34 passes defended and eight forced fumbles. Perhaps his most memorable play was his 51-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the Redskins' 17-10 win over Tampa Bay in the 2005 playoffs.
Taylor was a two-time Pro Bowler and he was voted All-Pro posthumously in 2007.
There's no telling what the years to come would have brought for Taylor, but one thing is for sure, he will always be a Redskin.
1. Chris Samuels, OT, 2000 (Round 1, 3rd Overall)
After drafting LaVar Arrington second overall in 2000, the Redskins selected Chris Samuels third overall from Alabama.
Samuels started every game his rookie season. It became a regular occurrence. He played 141 games in his 10-year career with the Redskins. The other two offensive tackles taken in the first round of the 2000 draft – Stockar McDougle and Chris McIntosh -- played in nine seasons combined.
Samuels anchored the Redskins' offensive line with consistent play for a decade and helped the Redskins run game stay at the top of the league most of the decade.
Selected to six Pro Bowls, Samuels was widely regarded as one of the best left tackles in the NFL during his career.
Rock Cartwright, RB, 2002 (Round 7, 257th Overall)
Rock Cartwright played eight seasons for the Redskins and did everything asked of him. He played in 123 games with the Redskins rushing for 889 yards, gaining 555 yards receiving, returning 5,332 yards on kickoffs – including a 100-yard touchdown return in 2006 – and posted 67 tackles on special teams. Cartwright was never a consistent starter, but he was a significant asset to the Redskins.
Ladell Betts, RB, 2002 (Round 2, 56th Overall)
Ladell Betts played eight seasons with the Redskins and was a quality backup to Stephen Davis and Clinton Portis. He gained 3,236 rushing yards for the Redskins, including 1,154 in 2006 when he replaced an injured Portis. He also had 1,505 receiving yards and scored 17 touchdowns for the Redskins. He was the featured kick returner in his earlier years and gained more than 2,000 return yards.
Fred Smoot, CB, 2001 (Round 2, 45th Overall)
Smoot played seven seasons with the Redskins and two with the Minnesota Vikings. He was a vocal presence on and off the field, drawing "Smoooooooot" chants from Redskins fans after a deserving play on the field. In 104 games in seven seasons with the Redskins, Smoot had 346 tackles, 18 interceptions, 63 passes defended and three forced fumble. He led the team in interceptions each of his first three seasons.