D.C. sports fans should be thanking their lucky stars that Ryan Zimmerman applied himself to baseball as a youth rather than learning the ropes in an NFL front office.
A noted fan of the Washington Football Team — which holds the 19th overall pick — Zimmerman was asked for his NFL Draft strategy during his weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies, presented by MainStreet Bank.
Zimmerman says he was recently discussing the draft with some of his Nationals teammates, so he was more than prepared to uncork the full arsenal of his strategy.
"A guy could play in the SEC for three or four years, and have tons of football tape and be one of the better players, and then have a bad combine and he drops to like the third or fourth round," he told The Sports Junkies. "Some guy could play in a garbage conference for maybe 10 games, not have any good tape, and bench press, run fast and jump high and he's a first-rounder."
"We were wondering how it's come to that," he said. "And, you know, there's stories of both, of it working and obviously stories of it blowing up in teams' faces. But we were saying how in football, that combine is so important to those kids. I mean you train for months just for those two, three, four days – whatever it is. I can't imagine the pressure those kids are under to go there and show out well."
As for what he'd do with the 19th pick, the honorary GM revealed a vanilla process that would leave Washington fans bored to tears.
"We've been talking about all this stuff in the clubhouse," Zimmerman said. "Like if I was an NFL team, I would draft offensive linemen, defensive ends, corners, and just draft the heck [out of them], draft them over and over again, and then go get a guy like FitzMagic or someone like that."
"These quarterbacks, it's amazing. And I get why these teams take them," he said. "If you hit on a quarterback, you have a rookie quarterback that's on a deal where you can afford to go out and then pay other people, and you're getting a quarterback on the cheap.
"But it just seems like, especially over the last 10 years, so many of these quarterbacks don't work out. You've now invested a top-five or a top-10 pick where, it just feels like offensive linemen and defensive ends and things like that, there's less risk for them not to be somewhat of a good impact player in the NFL."
"So I would draft all those guys, and then go out and draft a quarterback in the fourth, fifth or sixth round and then get a veteran," he continued. "And let the quarterback learn for a couple years. And then if he becomes something, then you still have the opportunity to have a good quarterback."
So to recap, Zimmerman's priorities in the draft are: 1) offensive line; 2); defensive line; 3) secondary. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Just to be crystal clear, Zimmerman reiterated that Washington should address the offensive line at 19.
"I think offensive line's the most important. Obviously it protects the quarterback, especially left tackle," he said. "And you talk about running backs in the league. I think there's obviously really good running backs, but you have to be a really, really good running back to do well without a good offensive line. So it's kind of the same thing.
"If you have a really good offensive line, there's plenty of guys that can play running back in the league, and it could be really darn good if you have a good offensive line. So yeah, I would go best offensive lineman available and kind of go from there."
"Very solid," said Junkies host Eric Bickel. "Very boring, but very solid."
"What did you expect," Zimmerman joked. "What did you expect from me?"
"I mean I love Ryan Zimmerman," John Auville said, "but that would be the biggest snoozer draft year after year if Ryan Zimmerman was wearing the GM hat."
"Probably effective," Bickel said. "You're gonna have less busts."
"Can you imagine doing sports radio if they drafted 10 linemen?" chimed Junkies producer Matt Valdez.