It's all smiles and congratulations all around in the nation's capital Thursday as the Washington Redskins prepare for the first round of the 2012 NFL draft and the second overall pick that everyone knows is coming.
However, as summer turns to fall and the season gets underway, it's more likely than not that frowns and grumbles will replace them as the reality of what the first year of the Robert Griffin era will look like takes shape for Redskins fans.
Right now it's all optimism about the future for the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, as the Baylor quarterback recently told the Washington Post's Mike Jones that knowing his professional destination has taken a lot of the stress out of the draft week experience.
It’s less stressful, because I already know where I’m going, and know where I’m going to call home, Griffin said. I’d rather know where I’m going than have to be very stressed about where I have to go. But it does kind of rob me of that true draftee experience. But I’ve never done anything normal in my life.
Griffin has had an exciting week so far, however. On Tuesday he made an appearance at a Subway shop, where he made sandwiches for fans and viewed a bust of himself made from barbecued chicken, chili peppers and onions (via ESPN). On Wednesday morning, he and other draftees went on the Today Show, and more festivities await Thursday.
However, once Griffin actually gets to the District of Columbia, then that stress is likely going to kick into overdrive, especially given the high price the Redskins paid the St. Louis Rams for the rights to draft the young signal-caller.
There is immense pressure to succeed that price tag carries with it.
Assuming that Griffin begins the 2012 season as the starter in Washington (and given that he has only to beat out Rex Grossman, it's safe to assume away) Griffin is going to run into any number of issues as he makes the jump to the NFL, some of which are his doing and more than a few that are not.
For all his talents, Griffin will be transitioning from the spread offense at Baylor to a more conventional pro-style attack in D.C.. While offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has already visited with Griffin in Texas to try to ease that transition, there are still going to be the proverbial bumps in the road, as evidenced by Cam Newton's 19 turnovers a year ago while making a similar jump for the Carolina Panthers.
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Griffin's biggest hurdle may be the five players in front of him, as a leaky offensive line that allowed 41 sacks a season ago is going to have to get better in a hurry this season despite right tackle Jammal Brown's lingering injury woes and a lack of depth.
There's also no shortage of question marks among the skill players. The Redskins took significant steps to upgrade the receiving corps by adding wideouts Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan in free agency, but the former is trying to back up a career year and the latter is returning from a serious injury last season.
Also, while running backs Evan Royster and Roy Helu both showed some promise last year, neither is considered a true "feature" back. The Redskins could opt to bring back Tim Hightower, but that would likely just leave one more mouth to feed in the sort of maddening herky-jerky backfield by committee that Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has become infamous for (via the Washington Post).
That doesn't even take into account the defensive deficiencies that the Redskins may have, and the team will certainly attempt to address some of these areas later in the draft.
However, the salary cap issues that Washington faces coupled with their next two first-round picks heading to St. Louis aren't going to make matters any easier. While Robert Griffin may one day truly earn the title "The Prince of D.C," the 2012 season is probably going to feature a lot more low points than high ones.