Scout: McNabb will be preserved under Shanahan

Donovan McNabb will turn 34 during the middle of the football season, probably sometime after he has played as an opponent against the Philadelphia Eagles for the first time in his career.

He’s entering the final year of his contract, although the Washington Redskins fully intend to sign him to an extension. One veteran NFL scout said that while McNabb may have plateaued playing for Andy Reid, he could take his game to a new level with the Redskins provided they surround him with the right parts, starting with a solid offensive line.

“I think (Mike) Shanahan will kind of help him,” the scout said. “He’s 33 years old. No, it’s not Brett Favre but how many Brett Favres exist? The reality is in that offensive scheme he was in, he had a situation where he was the point man like on a basketball team. Nobody throws the ball more than Andy Reid has since he became a coach in the NFL. Under Shanahan, the running game is a vital part of the offense. So you have a little more balance to your game. One of the issues with the Eagles offense has been running the football over the years. They relied a lot on Donovan’s feet and him running in the past. As he’s gotten older, his rushing yards have decreased.

“That’s where he will be preserved under Shanahan, where they’ll use his mobility to get him out of the pocket but not to run. He’s not going to be at risk as much. Every time the quarterback drops back to throw the ball, there is risk. This will just take that added pressure off him because of the running game in Shanahan’s offense. Not that he doesn’t throw the football, but his scheme is boom, boom, boom. It’s not read and react. This will extend Donovan’s career, the number of highly productive years he has.”

The Redskins have been hoping to develop wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly as well as tight end Fred Davis, young players who have languished somewhat. They should be able to find out what they have quickly with those players now that McNabb is on board and they have a quarterback more willing to throw the ball downfield than Jason Campbell was.

“Yeah, they should be able to find out about those guys,” the scout said. “But the issue with the Redskins really is their offensive line. The old rule of thumb is that if you can’t get to the quarterback, eventually the receiver will shake free. They need to protect the quarterback.”

Sounds like someone who would advocate the Redskins using the fourth pick in the draft on a left tackle.

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