Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III formally declared for the 2012 NFL Draft and the hearts of Washington Redskins fans are all a-flutter.
Cool your jets.
The Redskins face such long odds to land RG3 that it is unlikely to happen.
You can thank the Atlanta Falcons for that. Atlanta traded five Draft picks to the Cleveland Browns to position their selection of Alabama WR Julio Jones. The result is that Cleveland has the ammunition to outbid any offer the Redskins might make to move up in the Draft.
But, you don't come here to read about obstacles. You want to read about the possibilities. So here is a piece of hope. The teams ahead of the Redskins are in a real flux that might grant Redskins fans their fondest wish—a rookie quarterback with franchise potential who will perform for the team for a decade.
Look at the teams making the first five Draft picks.
1. Indianapolis Colts - Owner Jim Irsay fired team president Bill Polian and GM Chris Polian and named Ryan Grigson as the new GM. Grigson must decide whether to keep head coach Jim Caldwell and untangle a salary cap mess that includes Peyton Manning's contract. The Colts owe Manning a $28 million bonus on March 8.
Irsay has said that Manning would end his career as a Colt. There are whispers of disputes between Irsay and Polian about Manning's role when the Colts draft Andrew Luck. Could that mean that the Colts would not select Luck? That is unlikely, but one team isn't big enough for both Manning and Luck despite Irsay's fondest wish. Manning would draw interest from the Browns, Redskins or the Miami Dolphins. The New York Jets are rumored to have an interest. Manning would have a large say in where he goes and would undoubtedly prefer the Dolphins or Jets to the Browns or Redskins.
2. St. Louis Rams - With vacancies at head coach and general manager, the Rams are a mystery. In all probability, the new executive team will be charged with making quarterback Sam Bradford a better player. Anything is possible with a new front office, including the appeal of Stanford's Andrew Luck to sell tickets to a Los Angeles (ahem) fan base. The Rams have as many needs as the Colts. With as many as nine teams in need of a franchise quarterback, the Rams are the target to leapfrog the Browns. The Browns will strive to keep that from happening.
If the Colts bypass Luck, the Rams may pounce. They are a threat to draft and keep Robert Griffin III and rebuff all trade offers. Bradford could be a nice consolation prize that would draw as much interest as RG3.
3. Minnesota Vikings - With many team needs, the Vikings would welcome trade offers for their draft spot from teams looking to make a preemptive strike for Griffin 3rd ahead of the Browns. All Minnesota needs to do is answer the phone...that won't start ringing until Draft Day right after St. Louis makes their move.
The Draft sites see the Vikings selecting Kalil or Blackmon if they use their pick.
4. Cleveland Browns - Browns President Mike Holmgren is intent on a quarterback competition to set the 2012 starter. Griffin 3rd would fall to Cleveland in the natural order of events. Sixty-two percent of the mocks tracked by DCPSR see it that way. Per Wikipedia, "Atlanta had traded five draft picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up into their spot and take Jones, giving up their 27th, 59th, and 124th picks from the 2011 draft, and their first and fourth round picks from the 2012 draft." Mana from heaven to Holmgren who believes in building through the Draft.
Cleveland can package its two remaining picks from Atlanta with one of their own to move to the head of the class. That's playing with house money.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Raheem Morris paid the extreme price for the collapse of his team. The Bucs are young. Their prospects are thought to be bright. Their biggest problem might have been failure to cope with success. Morris and the Buccaneers lost every game after their emotionally satisfying win at home over long time nemesis New Orleans. Kids! What are you gonna do?
Tampa Bay isn't looking to replace quarterback Josh Freemen. They want him to play better. The smart people who follow these things think the Bucs will take OT Jonathan Martin (Stanford) or CB Morris Claiborne (LSU). They could get calls on Draft Day from teams looking to jump Washington if RG3 slips past Cleveland.
6. Washington Redskins - If Rex Grossman threw half the number of interception last season, his resulting 83.0 QB passer rating would still be the lowest in the NFC East. Safe to say that no one will ever again buy Grossman's claim that Washington can take the division, especially if he is the starter. It's also safe to say the Redskins will have a revenue problem if Grossman is the starter next season. Mike Shanahan has all of his Draft picks to work with to move up or down. Here's a bonus, Washington gets to use the fourth round pick they got for Jason Campbell.
8. Miami Dolphins - Miami is the biggest threat after Cleveland to preempt a Redskins' bid to move up for Griffin 3rd. Team owner Stephen Ross wants to make a big splash by landing a big name coach and a big name and a big name quarterback. These sentiments are vaguely familiar. Oh yeah, they are early Daniel Snyder. Ross' aggression will upset the orderly market for NFL talent and will unhinge Washington's attempts to move up for Luck or Griffin.
The offseason is the game between the seasons with all the drama, risks, intrigues and rewards of any game. Teams that win on the field win the offseason. I love this time of year. Can't wait for the 2012 Draft Day Party at FedEx Field.
Browns fan here, lots of talk around Ohio about the draft and what the Browns will do in the #4 spot. Almost none of it involves taking RGIII. Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert have collectively never taken a QB in the first round. Holmgren prides himself in finding good QBs in later rounds (Mark Brunell - 5th round, Hasselbeck - 6th round). RGIII doesn't fit the West Coast Offense. We have plenty of gaping holes to fill besides QB that the guess is the front office would love to trade down to get more picks. That being said, if Blackmon is still on the board at #4 I think they would take him.
So this all being said, I think you guys have a better shot at RGIII than you think. TB isn't going after a QB with Freeman (although with the three teams ahead of the Skins that will have new coaches I think it's safe to say that no QB is safe on those teams). What Washington needs to watch out for is someone trading above them to take RGIII. Other than that scenario, I think he could easily slide to #6.
@David C1 Thanks for the insight, Dave. That's very reassuring.
Truth be told, the push for RG3 comes more from fed-up fans than from the front office. Note where Mike Shanahan truly is, or that he is the best coach to develop Griffin.