The Washington Redskins might want to ignore the quarterbacks in the first round of the draft, and not just because this QB class isn't considered very deep.
The Redskins have strong needs elsewhere that match the strength of this draft, such as at pass-rusher. There also might be tempting picks at receiver in the first or second round. Maybe a safety.
But, the point is, as much as the Redskins need to find another quarterback, they don’t need to force the pick. And they can still help their team in April by targeting another spot.
Yes, the Redskins will spend the offseason trying to find another quarterback or two as they wait on Alex Smith’s recovery. He’s a long shot for this season, though far from ruled out, and anything beyond 2019 remains murky.
That’s why the Redskins could opt for a depth chart of Colt McCoy, another veteran (no more than a mid-level signing and likely a low-priced one) and then a mid-round rookie. It might not be ideal for this season, but it could be the best for their future -- especially when looking at the Redskins' own free agents, starting with linebacker Preston Smith.
If they retain Preston Smith, they wouldn’t need to seek another starting outside linebacker. But the Redskins have yet to engage in any meaningful contract discussions to bring him back. As of a week ago, there were none. The team has publicly and privately stated it would like him back, but has long known he’d be costly to keep around.
The Redskins drafted Ryan Anderson two years ago, so he could possibly have an increased role if Smith leaves. Anderson blows up the edge with force and provides a physical demeanor and mindset, but he hasn’t yet shown he can be a dynamic pass-rusher. He can definitely help, but to what extent remains to be seen.
Even if Anderson does become a full-time guy, it’s too important a position to not draft another player toward the top of the draft. Ryan Kerrigan, on the other side of the line from Smith, will be 31 in August. You never have enough pass-rushers and it’s hard for a defense of this style to reach a high level without high-end edge talent. This draft just happens to be deep in defensive talent.
In 2011, the Redskins needed a quarterback after a failed trade for Donovan McNabb. They didn't like what was available in the draft, traded down a few spots and landed Kerrigan. The next year, they traded up to get Robert Griffin III -- and won the NFC East.
That’s why, if the Redskins don’t draft a quarterback in the first round, it’s OK. If they lose both Preston Smith and receiver Jamison Crowder -- a distinct possibility -- they’re going to need more help at both spots. The dilemma for Washington is whether to pay Crowder $8 million. Yes, they have Trey Quinn, but he played in only two games this season. And Crowder is still their preferred option. Regardless, taking a receiver in the early rounds wouldn’t be a surprise. They need someone who threatens a defense.
Before the season ended, coach Jay Gruden said the Redskins needed to find more playmakers. Both Smith and Crowder are in playmaking positions. Both might have price tags that get too high (and would yield compensatory picks in 2020, something they want to keep accruing).
The key for Washington is to keep adding talent. If the Redskins really like a quarterback at No. 15? OK -- take him and don’t look back. If they don’t? Look elsewhere. They absolutely need help at quarterback, but if they’re going to make any noise next season, it will have to be because of their defense and run game. That’s why they’ve already started talks with running back Adrian Peterson about returning. He can have a big role if Derrius Guice, who missed last season with a torn ACL, isn’t yet ready for one. Or Peterson can be terrific insurance. If Guice is healthy, he could become a playmaker.
Fixing the quarterback depth remains a priority. That doesn’t mean they must force a move, not when other impact positions might lead to better results.