Did one playoff berth justify Washington trading up for Griffin?
The lone perk in being as bad as the Washington Redskins were in 2013 is the high draft pick that accompanies losing seasons.
But in typical Redskins fashion, they're not reaping this benefit. The St. Louis Rams are doing it for them.
By surrendering three first-round picks and one second-round pick to St. Louis for the right to select Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL draft, Washington gave up its shot at drafting a transformational talent, such as Jadeveon Clowney, in this year's draft.
Hence the question, where would the Redskins be if they never traded up for RG3? What four players would be donning Washington uniforms in his place?
Let's find out. But, first, some ground rules.
By not trading up for Griffin, Washington would have four picks in tow, but not a crystal ball. While a player such as T.Y. Hilton might look the part of a first- or second-round pick, the Redskins wouldn't have considered taking him there because of where he was projected.
For this reason, in identifying who Washington would've hypothetically selected, the player pool will be limited to players actually selected in the same round as the corresponding pick.
With that said, here are the "lost" draft picks of the Griffin trade.
No. 6 overall pick in 2012, QB Ryan Tannehill
He's the guy Mike Shanahan wanted all along. Had Shanahan gotten his wish, maybe he'd still be coaching in Washington. Just a thought.
While Tannehill didn't showcase the ability as a rookie to lead the Redskins on a playoff run—a la Griffin—he didn't fall victim to the sophomore slump either.
Tannehill threw for more yards, was more accurate and doubled his touchdown total from 12 to 24 in 2013. And that was with no viable running game, a suspect receiving core and a makeshift offensive line.
He may not have the elite upside of a Griffin, but remember, Joe Flacco has a Super Bowl ring. You don't have to have a great quarterback to win it all.
Surround Tannehill with great players and you can knock off the Tom Brady's of the world come playoff time. And now, with first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, the 'Skins certainly have the draft capital to do as such.
No. 39 overall pick in 2012, WR Alshon Jeffery
Despite Washington inking Josh Morgan to a deal prior to the draft, receiver remained a problem spot.
With the likes of Morgan, Garcon and Santana Moss, the 'Skins were well stocked with small and quick receivers. What they lacked was a possession receiver who thrived in the red zone.
Although he had a relatively quiet rookie season, it was evident early on—and during his college career, for that matter—that Jeffery would at the very least develop into a quality NFL receiver.
A physical specimen at receiver, Jeffery can always make a play on the ball due to his size advantage on opposing quarterbacks and his excellent leaping ability.
Jeffery showcased this ability in 2013 when he registered 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns. Ironically enough, it was the same season in which Garcon set career highs in receptions and yards.
Two of the league's better receivers in their own right, they could have formed perhaps the NFL's best receiving duo had Washington not dealt this pick for Griffin.
No. 22 overall pick in 2013, CB Desmond Trufant
Trufant was actually selected with this pick, just by the Atlanta Falcons.
With their actual selection of David Amerson in the second round, the Redskins showed their hand—they couldn't overlook an all-time bad pass defense, and they desperately coveted a cornerback.
A standout at Washington, Trufant proved to be a combine wunderkind leading up to the draft. Add in his NFL bloodlines and it wouldn't be hard for Shanahan to sell his bosses on drafting Trufant.
With the Falcons, Trufant tallied 17 pass breakups and two interceptions, while manning the No. 1 spot on Atlanta's cornerback depth chart for the majority of the season.
Had he been paired with DeAngelo Hall in Washington, it's unlikely that the Redskins would have finished with the No. 20 pass defense in 2013.
No. 2 overall pick in 2014, OT Jake Matthews
What, you wanted Clowney?
While the Houston Texans certainly have a need at quarterback with the top pick, history says they'd have no problem passing one up for a player like Clowney—remember Mario Williams, anyone?
No worries though, with Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo (if he's re-signed) Washington isn't necessarily starving for a pass-rusher.
But an offensive tackle is a different story.
What occurred in the final three games of the 2013 regular season had to be an NFL first. A starting quarterback, Griffin, was a healthy scratch for the final three games because...the offensive line couldn't pass-block?
David Carr took an all-time beating under center—during multiple seasons—and he was never taken out of the lineup for fear of injury.
Holding his own against future first-rounders such as Clowney and Barkevious Mingo during his time at Texas A&M, Matthews certainly has shown that he could solve this conundrum for Washington.
With Matthews and Trent Williams manning the tackle positions, Washington would have the bookend tackles it needs to protect its franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future. Most notably, it would finally put offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus in his proper place—on the bench.
Did the Redskins make a mistake by trading for RG3?
So how'd the Redskins do?
Trufant, Jeffery, Tannehill and Matthews or Griffin, who you taking?
Griffin very well could return to his rookie form and continue on his trajectory toward superstardom, or he could not. Either way, he wasn't and will never be worth the haul Washington surrendered to acquire him.
This isn't the NBA. One player, no matter how great, isn't going to guide a team to Super Bowl lore by himself. Just ask Peyton Manning.
In a league in which top-tier quarterbacks are making more than $15 million per year, Washington, courtesy of the rookie wage scale, has its franchise quarterback on the cheap.
But because of a salary-cap penalty, it's been unable to take advantage of this fact thus far. Then there's the lost draft picks that could've replenished the roster.
Time's ticking. In two years, Griffin too will be eligible for a cap-eating contract.
Where the Redskins would be without Griffin will always remain an unknown, but if they don't capitalize now on his team-friendly contract and surround him with talent—while they still can afford it—their place in the future won't be uncertain. It'll be at the top of the draft—provided they don't trade the pick away, that is.