Quick Links

Need to Know: Will the Redskins draft a quarterback?

brett-hundley-action.png

Need to Know: Will the Redskins draft a quarterback?

INDIANAPOLIS—Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 19, 19 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

While I’m here at the NFL Combine this week, I’m going to change it up a bit. I’m going to pose the question each morning centered around the draft and the position group that will be talking to the media on that day. You can find the daily schedule here. Up today, the quarterbacks.

Will the Redskins draft a quarterback?

The Redskins may be getting ready to hop on the quarterback carousel. Robert Griffin III is in the last year of his contract and there are strong, serious doubts that he will be the answer going forward. Kirk Cousins had his shot last year but he couldn’t protect the football well enough. He’s also under contract only through the 2015 season.

If you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have anything, the saying goes. Will Scot McCloughan dip into the draft to see if he can get a signal caller for the future?

One issue is that this is not a great year to be doing that. There are serious questions about the consensus top two picks. Character and interception issues surround Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Nobody is sure that Oregon’s Marcus Mariota can make a successful transition from Oregon’s spread-style offense.

The question marks grow bigger from there as you go into the next tier of QB prospects. If Griffin is having a tough time transitioning from Baylor’s offense, Bryce Petty, his successor in Waco, is likely to have the same issues. UCLA’s Brett Hundley—stop me if you’ve heard this one—is not comfortable working in the pocket.

Perhaps the Redskins can find a project a bit deeper in the draft, someone like Grayson Garrett. The Colorado State product shows poise in the pocket and has great accuracy on the deep ball. He has a lot of mechanical things that he needs to work on like a slow release. Scouting reports say that he needs to process faster and make quicker decisions. Is that something he can be taught? You don’t know until you try.

McCloughan has his work cut out for him at the quarterback position. With Griffin playing as well as he was in 2012 nobody had any notion that the Redskins might be back in the market for a quarterback so soon. Even in 2013 it was easy to write off his spotty performance to issues stemming from the knee injury he suffered late in 2012.

If Griffin bounces back or Cousins can get a handle on the turnover issues, both will not be back in 2016. So even if the starting position doesn’t need to be addressed the backup spot will be. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Redskins draft a QB sometime on Saturday in the draft (rounds 4-7) and see what he can develop in to. But if they’re banking on this draft to find their QB of the future they could well be out of luck in 2015.

Timeline

—It’s been 53 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 206 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 19; Redskins offseason workouts start 60; 2015 NFL Draft 70

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Like Real Redskins on Facebook!

Follow Real Redskins on Instagram @RichTandler

In case you missed it

Quick Links

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

Quick Links

When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

A four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ, Aqib Talib has a long and checkered past, which includes multiple arrests and failed PED and drug tests. The problems aren't new either, the talented cornerback was first arrested as a high school student. In college at Kansas, Talib was suspended multiple times and had multiple positive tests for marijuana use. 

Why does this matter for Redskins fans on the eve of the NFL Draft?

Despite all the trouble, Bruce Allen drafted Talib 20th overall in 2008 when the current Redskins general manager was in the same role for Tampa. While Talib's legal troubles and suspensions continued in the NFL, he also proved to be a highly capable cornerback in the pro game. 

The lesson for those trying to determine the Redskins draft board: Allen might be willing to look past red flags if a player presents good value. Talib did in 2008, and there could be opportunities for Washington in 2017.

Reuben Foster jumps to mind, as the talented Alabama linebacker will enter the league in the substance abuse program. While Foster's issues pale in comparison to other allegations about some draft prospects, players like Joe Mixon, Gareon Conley and Caleb Brantley will also present unique circumstances for NFL teams to evaluate. 

GMs are thrust into the unenviable task of determining a player's character, often in short periods of time. As 'Skins director of college scouting Scott Campbell explained, the team grades every player for their football skills first, and only later adds in character information. From Campbell's comments:

When you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don’t factor in the character. You don’t grade character, you grade talent. So you don’t throw away somebody early that may have some redeeming quality, or there’s a side to the story you don’t know about. You grade football players as football players first on talent, and then when it comes closer to the draft, you start weeding all that, getting more information, deciding, ‘OK, this guy’s not our kind of guy, this guy’s not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted, but good luck to him.

Thursday night the Redskins will be forced to make a determination on the right player for the team. That decision could include judging a player's character, and that could mean balancing legal or substance abuse troubles with talent and ability.

Talib is only one pick in Allen's long personnel career, but it's one worth noting. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!