John Keim: I think there’s almost no doubt they would take one for a simple reason: None of the quarterbacks are under contract for next season. Though the Washington Redskins picked up the option on Robert Griffin III, that is not a guarantee of anything for 2016. Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy both are free agents. It could be that both Cousins and McCoy return; if I’m Griffin, I’d want to go elsewhere for a fresh start and to a place that has more belief in me. My guess is at least Cousins or McCoy would be back if only to serve as a bridge to another young quarterback. Still, if only one returns, that means drafting a quarterback. Even if both Cousins and McCoy return, I’d still want to draft one.
I think the round they draft one in comes down to one question: How did Cousins finish 2015? As of now he’s too inconsistent to warrant a big contract and the belief that he’s the long-term answer. My last conversations about this with people in the organization suggest they won’t do anything until they see that consistency. Maybe the final nine games will change their minds in that regard. If it remains good game followed by bad game, then you have to look hard at your first-round options.
Let’s take a detour for a second: The list of possible free agent quarterbacks this offseason might be topped by Sam Bradford. So that’s not a legitimate option, and trading for one -- as the Redskins have discovered in the past -- usually means you’re taking on a player at the most important position that his previous team does not want. So if you’re wondering how Cousins might return if he’s still inconsistent, it could just be that free agency offers nothing better for them.
That leads us to the draft. And that’s another problem. There seems to be a lot of uncertainty about the quarterbacks in this draft -- and if there is one that stands out, the Redskins will not be in position to draft him barring another big trade. If they finish, say, 6-10, they might pick lower in the top 10. Atlanta, at 6-10 last season, had the eighth pick.
But there is not consensus on the potential quarterbacks in this draft. Cal’s Jared Goff warrants -- deservedly in my mind -- split opinions. Memphis’ Paxton Lynch is the current fast riser, though he’s only a junior and might not declare. But he’s the intriguing guy right now; I have not seen enough to form a strong opinion, but am anxious to see more. Michigan State’s Connor Cook is another one, but to me he’s not a top-10 pick. He has size, athleticism and a good arm, but in some ways he leaves me wanting more. I’m an Ohio State guy, but I would not draft Cardale Jones before the third round. As much as I like him, there’s still just too much to learn about him -- big arm, great size; poor man's Ben Roethlisberger?
One guy to watch this weekend: N.C. State’s Jacoby Brissett. He will face an excellent Clemson defense; a good game could put him on the pay-attention-to-this-guy list. If the Redskins could acquire, say, another first-round pick somehow and draft one later in that round and let him sit for a year or two? That would be the best option. There just does not seem to be anyone in this class who warrants being a Day 1 NFL starter. If that's the case, you need to keep fortifying your roster and don't chase a guy just because he plays the position. Get a guy you like. But just because one might not be a Day 1 starter does not mean they will ultimately fail. It just means they will take a little longer to play. If that's the case, it's best to have one or two others around him who know the offense and who can play while they learn.