Draft Analysis: Weighing the Redskins’ First Round Options

by Grant Paulsen

It is no surprise that the Redskins will be very guarded with information on who they like and what they plan on doing in the draft. So will the other 31 teams in the NFL.

But with the NFL Combine well underway, and the draft now just two months away, I figured today would be a good time to take a look at some of the Redskins’ first round options.


1. Trade up to No. 2 and draft Robert Griffin III 

The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, Griffin is an electrifying dual-threat talent with plus throwing and running skills. Considered the second best quarterback in the 2012 draft class, the Baylor product is 6-foot-2 and 223-pounds. A former world-class track star who has a strong enough arm to make all the throws he’ll need to in the NFL, Griffin completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns this past season.

Coming off a season where Rex Grossman turned the ball over 25 times in 13 starts, Washington is desperate to improve its quarterback play. Moving up the four picks it will take to draft Griffin would provide the team with a potential superstar at the most critical position on the field. It would also be costly. The Browns (who pick 4th and 22nd in the first round) have more ammunition than the Redskins. If Cleveland wants Griffin they can get him. But if the Browns decide that current starter Colt McCoy, a third round pick in 2010, is their passer of the future, it could clear the way to Washington to become a real player in the sweepstakes to move up.

2. Stay put and draft the best player available at a position of need.

So let’s assume the Rams keep the second pick, or that another team (Cleveland or whoever else) completes a trade to move up to No. 2. The Redskins would then be on the clock at No. 6. Washington could stand-pat and make a selection, adding an immediate starter and a potential impact-performer at one of the team’s many areas of need.

One name that could make sense at No. 6: LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, considered by most to be the finest cover-corner in the 2012 draft. Claiborne (6-0, 185) is expected to be taken somewhere in the middle of the top-10, despite being ranked as high as the second overall prospect in the draft by many pundits.

3. Keep the sixth pick and draft Ryan Tannehill.

According to most of the people analyzing and preparing for April’s draft, Tannehill is the third best quarterback prospect behind only Andrew Luck and Griffin III. He’s a passing-neophyte, having started just 20 games at Texas A&M after making the transition from wide receiver to playing under center.

Tannehill, 6-foot-3 and 221-pounds, broke his right foot while training for the combine in early February. The injury prevented him from playing for the Redskins’ coaching staff at the senior bowl, and he is still recovering this week so he won’t be participating in any of the physical activities at the NFL Combine. But despite his inexperience as a quarterback, Tannehill’s athleticism, mobility and upside equate to the strong-armed passer being laced with potential.

Drafting Tannehill with the sixth pick would be an over-draft, as he has been seen as a second round caliber prospect for much of the season, but if the Redskins want him they should take him. Trading down to get him later is a risk, and if you lose out on him the three best quarterbacks in this year’s draft class would be off the board, and they’d still need a passer.

4. Trade down, add picks, get a quarterback later.

This option is more along the lines of what the Redskins did last season. They could trade back from the sixth pick and try to add a couple of additional picks. This would mean that Washington would likely not be drafting a quarterback in the first round (unless it only moved back a couple of spots and still grabbed Tannehill). The caliber of passers you’d be looking at in the second round and beyond: Oklahoma State’s Bradon Weeden, Arizona’s Nick Foles and Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler, among others. That crop of signal callers is far more risky than the top three passers, so Washington had better make sure they nab a passer who can be an ideal fit in their system if they wait until later in the draft.

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