The Washington Redskins finally have a supposed franchise quarterback in rookie second-overall pick Robert Griffin III. But a lot had to break Washington's way for RG3 to land in D.C., and some of it was beyond the team's control.
In this installment of "What If," we look at where this franchise would be right now had things gone down differently. Of course, we've yet to see Griffin's effect on the team's performance, but we can speculate on what avenues Daniel Snyder, Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan would have gone down had things transpired differently.
Consider these alternate timelines...
Scenario 1: Andrew Luck Enters the 2011 Draft
With RG3 off the board, what would have been the best strategy for Washington?
Under this scenario, Luck is selected early in last year's draft, making RG3 the obvious top selection in 2012. And since it would have been next to impossible for the Redskins to trade up with Indianapolis and take RG3 with the top pick this year, the 'Skins would probably still have their next two first-round picks (both of which were traded to St. Louis for the No. 2 pick).
Based on how hungry the team was for a franchise quarterback, it's very likely that the 'Skins would have stayed in the No. 6 spot and drafted Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. There's also little reason to believe they still wouldn't have spent a fourth-round pick on Kirk Cousins, leaving the franchise with Tannehill, Cousins and Rex Grossman on the roster.
Additionally, the Redskins would have kept their second-round pick, which might have been used on a starting-caliber player. The team spent most of the draft adding depth, but immediate contributors could have been found in Round 2.
After taking Griffin, Washington used three of its next four picks on guards and linebackers. When they were supposed to be on the clock again with the 39th pick, Georgia guard Cordy Glenn and Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks were still on the board.
In my hypothetical, they'd likely have one of those guys, plus Tannehill and Cousins, and they'd still have their first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
But they wouldn't have RG3.
Scenario 2: They Decide Against Trading Up for Griffin
Under this scenario, they end up with the same set of results from Scenario 1. The difference, though, is that they take heat from fans and media for failing to pull the trigger and land Griffin. Their hands were tied in Scenario 1, but they're simply wimping out here.
Scenario 3: They Decide Against Picking a Quarterback Early and Instead Trade Down
I can't see this happening, but it's also possible that Washington could have decided against Tannehill and traded down, settling for Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler, Russell Wilson or Nick Foles.
In this dimension, the Rams received a second-round pick for sliding down eight spots. So you'd have to believe that the 'Skins would have received at least that. In that case, let's just say they ended up with Weeden and Cousins, used their second-round picks on potential starters like Glenn and Kendricks and now have the peace of mind that comes with still owning first-round picks in 2013 and 2014. Not bad, right?
This is probably the best alternate scenario for 'Skins fans. Sure, Weeden isn't the prospect Griffin is, but you could make your team a lot better with those second-round picks, and you haven't mortgaged the future by dealing away your next two first rounders.
If neither Weeden nor Cousins cut it as pros, you would at least have those in your back pocket.
Scenario 4: They Select a Non-Quarterback with the Sixth Pick
This is somewhat acceptable if it's attached to Scenario 1, Griffin went first overall and they didn't want to reach for Tannehill too early, but it's also the scenario that would piss off the most fans.
They probably end up with Morris Claiborne or Mark Barron to spruce up the secondary. Taking Claiborne in Round 1 and, say, Glenn in Round 2 would be quite a nice early haul, but it would still leave them without a quarterback who people believe can become a superstar.
Maybe they wait for Cousins in Round 4, or maybe they take a guy like Osweiler, Wilson or Foles earlier. Maybe they even trade back into Round 1 for Weeden, but if they were to do that, they might as well have just taken Tannehill at No. 6.
The one thing all four of these scenarios have in common is that, in all cases, the fan excitement level is much lower than it is with Griffin on the roster. We're talking about the man who has emerged as the league's top jersey seller (above Luck, Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow).
Teams aren't really supposed to consider non-football factors such as those, but it's clear that RG3 also made the most sense from a business standpoint.
It'll take several years to determine whether trading up for RG3 was the right decision, and even then, there's a chance it won't be cut-and-dry. Regardless of how things pan out, 'Skins fans will have years to ponder what could have been in these alternate realities.