2011 NFL Draft; Who Will the Washington Redskins Draft To Replace Donovan McNabb
Alas, poor Donovan, we know you well.
With everyone else in the universe focused on McNabb's benching, perhaps it would be more helpful if we took at the future. Head coach Mike Shanahan has alluded to the fact that the Redskins will begin evaluating players and keep an eye on the draft class of 2011.
I've long thought that, if the Redskins could've drafted Sam Bradford, Shanahan would've drafted him in a heartbeat. However, he couldn't wrestle that pick from the Rams and chose to go with McNabb instead. With McNabb unlikely to want to play for the 'Skins next season, and with Rex Grossman and John Beck only being doable for a placeholder, Shanahan has likely already locked himself in his film room, looking for his next Jay Cutler.
There is no point in reveling in the now. Even if Grossman were to start in 2011 (barring an NFL lockout), he wouldn't end the season as a starter. Shanahan wants a young quarterback that he can bring up his own way, and he will draft someone this year.
That in mind, let's take a look at the quarterbacks that the coach may have his eye on as we march towards the end of another hard Redskins season.
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If he declares, Andrew Luck will undoubtedly be the toast of the draft, and especially Coach Shanahan, who won a Super Bowl with another Stanford quarterback—John Elway.
Luck has it all. The accuracy. The mobility. The leadership capabilities. The arm strength. If you were building the perfect young quarterback in a game like Madden NFL 2011, something tells me he would look a lot like Luck.
The problem is, everyone else knows it, and every team that would be drafting ahead of the Redskins also has woes at quarterback. Many of those teams will be facing new coaches, who will likely want to bring up their own quarterbacks in their system as well.
Carolina (barring some astronimical accurance) will likely have the first pick of the draft. Jimmy Clausen has proven that he is not NFL-ready yet in his starts against for the team, and Matt Moore will not only be a free agent but is still an unknown quantity, as he's already lost his starting job to Clausen and been injured for most of the season. A new coach not taking Luck would likely be insanity.
Then, you have teams like the Bills, Bengals, Cardinals and even the Broncos who could all want to at least take a look at Luck. There is no way Luck falls all the way to the middle of the first round (the Redskins currently would have the 13th pick in the draft).
This means that the Redskins would have to trade up to get him. Without many bargaining chips and with a ton of other issues on both sides of the ball and not to mention their missing their third and fourth-round picks, the Redskins wouldn't have a whole lot to offer a team like Carolina.
Consider Luck a super long shot but don't be surprised when you hear that Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen are trying to play "Let's Make a Deal" to make it work.
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Cam Newton is one of the biggest unknown entities going into the draft. It seems likely that he will declare after his tumultuous years and with all the accusations he's been facing.
But it's easy to forget that, despite the Heisman trophy, despite the big championship game and despite leading Auburn to an undefeated season, Newton only has one solid year of college football, in a very gimmicky college offense.
He seems to have the mobility, but his mechanics are horrible. He can uncork the deep ball, but his short-to-intermediate accuracy leaves a little something to be desired. He's passionate, dedicated and a leader, but it's hard to ignore his off-the-field issues. He seems to have all the intangibles, while still appearing to be completely unready to play in the NFL.
He is much like former teammate and surprise 2010 first-rounder Tim Tebow in that way.
If McNabb were to stay with the football team, I'd see a bigger chance of taking Newton, but the chance wouldn't be very narrow. Shanahan seems to want the kind of guy who is as close to NFL-ready as possible, and it's hard to know if Newton will ever be fully ready.
Chances are slim to none on taking Newton...
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Taylor an interesting prospect from a developmental standpoint. He has the mobility. He has the arm. But he doesn't have the experience in a pro-style offense, and his athleticism, while great, may not translate onto the big stage. His completion percentage is average at best.
Still, given some of his intangibles, Shanahan will still give him a look. He has helped to lead Virginia Tech to a very impressive season in his senior year, and with the proper coaching, he could be a good quarterback. However, it'd probably be better for him if he learned the offense first and sat behind a veteran for a little while, and that may not be a luxury the Redskins have.
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There are those that believe that, had Jake Locker declared for the draft last year, he would've leapfrogged Sam Bradford as the first overall selection. Even after last year's draft, there were still those that declared him the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft regardless.
Just a season later, there are those that wonder if he'll be taken in the first round at all.
Locker has been plagued with accuracy problems and poor play this season, which has adversely affected his draft stock. In theory, he has all the tools—the arm, the mobility and the toughness. But his play on the field just isn't showing him as a guy that's ready to compete at the next level with any sort of consistency.
Locker would likely be a project quarterback—a guy who would benefit from learning under a veteran quarterback before he was thrust in the game. Unfortunately for the 'Skins, their best veteran may not be there, and who knows how much Rex Grossman can teach anyone.
It wouldn't be shocking if the 'Skins picked up Locker in the second round, but Shanahan would have to know the risk associated with it.
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Recently, I tweeted Redskins great Joe Theismann and asked him, if the Redskins were to draft a quarterback, who would he want to see.
His answer? Andy Dalton.
Looking at his career at TCU, it's hard to argue with results. TCU is currently undefeated and going to a championship game. Dalton's got the stats to back it up—he's thrown 26 touchdowns with only six picks, and his completion has improved year after year. Dalton came out out from under center and threw the ball as well as anyone. He might not be a Week 1 starter, but with a little time to mature in the offense, he could be a good pickup.
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There's one word to describe Kellen Moore—accurate.
In his three years at Boise State, he's never, never had a completion percentage below 60 percent. In fact, as of now, his percentage sits at a cool 71.0 percent. Moore is a smart, young quarterback that is seemingly able to grasp an offense with relative ease an execute it efficiently. He's got a pretty decent arm and has good mobility as well. Should he declare, he would be a very intriguing prospect to look at.
The knock against Moore is going to be his size. At 6'0", unless he has a decent offensive line, it might be hard for him to see the field and make his reads. Kyle Shanahan's scheme uses more timing routes than anything else, but it'll still could be a problem.
Of course, it rarely seems to affect Drew Brees, who is about the same height as Moore.
He may not fit the mold of a typical quarterback, but Moore could still be a very good quarterback on the next level if his intelligence and accuracy can translate to the NFL level.
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Love it or leave it, Ricky Stanzi may be the most underrated quarterback in the NFL Draft.
The Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback has quietly put together a few solid seasons under center, but Iowa's relatively down season has seen him fall down draft boards, down into the second round. His completion percentage has gone up season after season, and the system Iowa runs in is similiar to the Redskins. It utilizes lots of play action, roll out and a strong running game (though it's more of a power-running scheme than a ZBS).
The fact that Iowa has lost its last three games by less than a touchdown has led people to question whether or not Stanzi is capable of leading a football team on a last second march down the field for the win. He also occasionally makes a silly decision or two and dances a little too much in the pocket sometimes as well.
However, if the Redskins wanted to use their earlier draft picks to acquire a weapon at wide receiver or help to solidify the o-line, Stanzi could still linger around into the third round (if the Redskins ever get that pick back) and could potentially be a draft steal.
And his loves America. That's always a plus in the Nation's Capital.
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How appropriate would it be that a guy who plays for the Razorbacks (or Hogs) be drafted to the Washington Redskins?
Mallett is an attainable draft pick for the most part and has seen his draft stock increase, as his completion percentage and accuracy (while still a little iffy at times) have improved in his time playing for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas runs a pro-style offense that relies on a solid running game and lots of play-action passes...which is a lot like the scheme the Redskins want to run. He has the ability to make plays outside of the pocket (a necessity on a team that will still be looking to improve it's offensive line) and has the kind of leadership capabilities you look for in a quarterback.
The only question is, how raw will Mallett be, and would the 'Skins be getting an ever-improving Mallett or the same Mallett that posted a 55.8 completion percentage in 2009.
Mallett may not be great right away, but he'd be a solid pickup to draft and start developing.
Keeping Free Agency in Mind...Tavaris Jackson
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If you want to know how much faith the Vikings have in Tavaris Jackson, look no further than the fact that he was placed on IR with turf toe, was consistently spurned for the chronically injured Brett Favre and was such an unsure prospect that Childress (T-Jack's biggest advocate) went out and got Favre in the first place.
However, it's tough to tell if Tavaris Jackson was just wrongly treated by the Vikings, or if he consistently played his way out of a job. He's never been given a real chance to show his ability or his inability to play.
T-Jack may not be able to start, but in case Grossman and Beck do not turn up being good backups, there are possibly worse guys to pick up, and he can be had cheaply.
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Like T-Jack, it's tough to get a bead on Matt Moore.
In 2009, after Jake Delhomme was injured, Moore had a solid performance in leading the Carolina Panthers to a 8-8 record. Still, the Panthers drafted Jimmy Clausen to compete with Moore. Moore ultimately lost his job to Clausen for a time, due to a combination of being injured and not playing well. When he regained his job, he seemed to play better, but once again was injured and placed on IR.
Again, he's not likely to be a starting-caliber quarterback, but he's always a guy worth thinking about.
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You can look at Donovan McNabb's benching one of two ways—as the worst thing to happen ever and a catastrophic move and a fireable offense or as the final admittance of the fact that what the Redskins need to do is rebuild.
I choose to think it's the latter.
I truly and honestly believe that if Mike Shanahan had been able to move up in the draft and snag Sam Bradford, McNabb would've never been a Redskin. When it became clear that Bradford was not an option, he drafted Trent Williams instead and took a chance on McNabb. After all, a "potential Hall of Fame quarterback" such as McNabb had to be as good as advertised.
The fact is McNabb was set in his ways. Despite all my criticism of Kyle Shanahan, the Redskins have incorporated more things that McNabb was familiar with. However, it was too little, too late, and this is the result.
While talking about benching McNabb, Shanahan repeatedly mentioned the draft. He mentioned trading up to get the best quarterback available, to get "the next Donovan McNabb or the next Sam Bradford."
In fact, Shanahan mentioned Bradford several times. That screamed to me "I should've gotten Bradford. I should've gotten the young guy. I should've done more to put my team in a better position in the future."
Shanahan is starting Rex Grossman to see if he can hold down the fort while the Redskins teach a new, young stud the offense. Whether you believe it or not, Shanahan has his eye on the future, not the present.
The one year, "Let's try to make a playoff push now" approach hasn't worked. Now Shanahan will get to do things his way.
The question is, who will be the first piece of of the Mike Shanahan Redskins' puzzle.