Alex Smith's transition in Redskins' offense should be smooth

The quarterback and the draft: two popular Washington Redskins mailbag topics. But this week's draft questions focused more on trade possibilities and ways the Redskins could recoup their third-round pick. Considering how little they've done in free agency, the Redskins need to be aggressive in trying to get another high-round selection. Which leads us to the mailbag.

John Keim: Good question and observation. Both Andy Reid and Jay Gruden come from the same coaching tree (Gruden's brother). They obviously have other influences, but that’s a big one and, yes, there are similarities in what they do.

When I watched some of Alex Smith’s games over again, after the trade, I noticed some of those similarities, whether it was certain route combinations or how they used the tight end, etc. So I think Smith won’t have a big adjustment in that area at all. Plus he’s considered smart and has shown an ability to adapt to new offenses, which he had to do quite often early in his career. That’s why this transition won’t be a difficult one for Smith; it’ll be more about getting in sync with new targets.

The Redskins can incorporate his legs into the offense, but it’s not as if Smith was always on the move in Kansas City. He threw a lot from the pocket and when he used his legs, it was more often to get out of a situation than it was by design.

Gruden said at the owners meetings in March that the offense won’t have to change much.

“Not really. He does everything; he can do everything,” Gruden said. “We don’t have to change a whole lot. There are a few things he’s comfortable with, so we’ll pick his brain, see what he likes. It will make for as easy a transition as possible. He’s such a smart guy I don’t think it really matters. The things we do and [Andy Reid] and there were things Jim Harbaugh did [in San Francisco]. There’s similar concepts that carry over. Now it’s a matter of getting to know the players around him.”

This is what Gruden told me at the combine: “His movement skills are very, very underrated. He can really, really run. He’s really a good athlete. That’s not to say we will run the zone read every time, but the ability to get on the edge and outside the pocket… we’ll do some of the college stuff.”

They obviously ran some zone reads with Kirk Cousins, but they could end up incorporating that action more with Smith, who is more athletic. And Gruden told me at that time they’d run more of the read-pass options, though that’s a growing part of the game (and one that isn’t exactly new; it just caught on more because of Nick Foles and the Eagles this postseason. But there are different variations and the Redskins could use more of the Chip Kelly style of RPOs).

Keim: Another good question. When they moved back one spot two years ago to draft Josh Doctson, they received a sixth-round pick. In that same draft, Chicago moved from 11 to 9 for a fourth-round pick. When Atlanta moved up five spots in the first round last spring (going from 31 to 26), it cost them a third- and seventh-round selection. Finally, in 2015, the Chargers moved from 17 to 15 and surrendered a fourth-round pick in that draft and a sixth-rounder the next year.

If you’re curious what it would cost to move into the third round just in case they don’t trade back, here’s some history. San Francisco traded into the third round (pick 104) by giving Minnesota picks in rounds four and seven. New Orleans acquired a third-rounder (pick 67) by giving San Francisco a seventh-round pick in 2017 and a second-rounder in ’18. The Saints used that to draft running back Alvin Kamara.

Keim: Now, take this for what it’s worth: the opinion of someone I respect in a front office. He did not think any of the top four quarterbacks would fall to 13, thereby perhaps prompting a team to trade with Washington to draft one. Nor did he think Lamar Jackson would go before late in the first round with Mason Rudolph following, perhaps in the second. His guess for Rudolph: New England. We’ll see if that proves right. But his opinion on the four quarterbacks is what I’ve heard from others, too. There's always a chance one could fall, but at least a few people don't think it'll happen. We'll see. If none do, that won’t help the Redskins trade back necessarily, but it would push a good player down who ordinarily would have gone top 10. And that could mean the Redskins have a handful of players they like and, therefore, would be OK trading back a few spots. The hard part will be finding a dance partner and having a quarterback there makes it easier. But without a quarterback it still certainly isn't impossible; it’s not as if every team only trades up for a quarterback.