Picking fourth, the Redskins were one of the last points of simplicity atop the draft order. Having failed to reel in quarterbacks such as Jay Cutler and 2008 rookie Mark Sanchez, Washington figured to finally land a franchise signal caller: Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen.
St. Louis would draft Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, this year's other elite prospect at the position, first overall. With the second pick, Detroit would choose between two linemen: Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung.
At third, Tampa Bay would take either Suh or Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy, the two best defensive linemen in this draft class. Then the Redskins would get Clausen, giving way to the Kansas City Chiefs' fifth pick and a slew of teams with less clear-cut options than the top four.
Now, with Washington's quarterback situation settled, the chaos has crept up a spot.
Without delving into the Redskins' many options with the fourth overall pick after acquiring McNabb, the most important effect is that Clausen is practically certain to fall past them.
On his way down the draft board, he'll encounter five mediocre teams who seem to consider themselves above drafting him.
With the fifth pick, the Chiefs could go in practically any direction except quarterback. After all, that's the position they're paying Matt Cassel $63 million to play. Regardless of how sound an investment that turns out to be, it's one they have to live with.
After Kansas City, the Seattle Seahawks should be more concerned with shoring up one of the league's worst pass defenses than adding another quarterback to their mix. Having just sent a third round pick to San Diego for Charlie Whitehurst, they're hoping to turn "another man's trash" into their starter à la Houston's Matt Schaub.
Next up are the Cleveland Browns, whose general manager Mike Holmgren said , when asked about Clausen, "I wish I liked [him] more." The Browns have shown interest in other quarterback prospects in this class—namely Texas' Colt McCoy—and signed veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace to stabilize the position this season.
The Oakland Raiders, like Kansas City, are committed to a quarterback—former first overall pick JaMarcus Russell—whose contract limits their options at his position.
(In any case, Clausen's arm, though more than adequate for an NFL offense, lacks the Herculean strength needed to catch Raiders owner Al Davis' eye.)
Last in Clausen's fall come the Buffalo Bills, perhaps the team amongst these five most likely to draft him, considering the quarterback situation facing new general manager Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey.
Presently, Buffalo must choose between underachieving, injury-prone 2007 rookie Trent Edwards, practice squad roadie Brian Brohm, and Wonderlic wonder Ryan Fitzpatrick, an Ivy Leaguer whose career highlight has been his near-perfect score on the NFL Combine's intelligence test.
And, yet, the Bills seem to be leaning toward highly-touted second-round prospect Tim Tebow of Florida. From Nix to Hall of Fame ex-Buffalo quarterback Jim Kelly, the whole organization has shown considerable interest in Tebow. As for the their first-round pick, the Bills seem more likely to invest in better pass protection than in a passer.
Which would leave the Jacksonville Jaguars holding a franchise-caliber quarterback, perhaps modern football's most valuable commodity, in their hands with the 10th pick.
The Jaguars' options, should that happen, had already been discussed prior to the McNabb trade. Now, with teams stacked like dominoes in the draft order, one has tipped in Washington to make it much more likely.