Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan made a difficult decision on Wednesday morning, and announced that journeyman John Beck would replace Rex Grossman as the starting quarterback in Week 7. The change came after a 20-13 loss to the Eagles last Sunday, to which Grossman contributed four interceptions in three quarters of play.
It is hard to blame Shanahan for hesitating to choose between such unappealing options. Grossman’s body of work in Chicago speaks for itself, and Beck has zero wins in four career starts.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Grossman and Beck at the moment, it is clear that neither will be Redskins' long-term signal caller.
The window is closing for Shanahan to find his quarterback, however. Since the trade deadline has now passed, he will likely choose from the talented crop of quarterbacks that may be available in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Prospects will see their draft stocks rise and fall between now and next April, and it is too early to know what position the Redskins will draft in. Given the importance of finding a quarterback, however, it is reasonable to think that Shanahan will take a top prospect.
So while everyone debates who should start against Carolina, it seems logical to examine the team from a more long-term perspective.
These are brief profiles for seven of the top quarterback prospects in the country, paying particular attention to how well they would fit with the Redskins. Each one has a chance to land in Washington in next year's draft, and one of them could be wearing burgundy and gold for several years to come.
Strengths: At 6'4" and 235 lbs, Luck is a physical specimen. He is accurate in the pocket as well as on the run, and throws the deep ball as well as anyone in the draft. He is tough to bring down, and shows good mobility in and out of the pocket.
Weaknesses: None really to speak of. He has a slightly odd release, but he still gets rid of the ball quickly and it does not seem to affect his accuracy at all. After playing under Jim Harbaugh, learning an NFL offense should not be a concern.
Good fit for the Redskins? Luck is a good fit with any team, which is why he is the unanimous number one pick. He has size, athleticism, accuracy, and arm strength. He also reads defenses and makes quick progressions, even at the college level.
Luck would fit perfectly into Shanahan’s system, and could be eased into the offense behind an improved offensive line and a strong running game.
Chances of becoming a Redskin: Very slim. Though the season is young, it appears as though Washington will be drafting somewhere between 10th and 25th, which leaves them out of range for the Luck sweepstakes.
Shanahan does not traditionally trade up in the draft, and getting Luck would require giving up too much talent in return.
Strengths: Jones is essentially a less spectacular version of Luck. He has similar size at 6’4” and 230 lbs, and has the arm strength to make any throw on the field.
Jones shows great touch on screen passes and throws down the sideline, and has shown he can move outside the pocket and maintain his accuracy.
Weaknesses: Nobody has more talent around him than the Oklahoma quarterback. Jones has a terrific offensive line and NFL talent at nearly every skill position.
This is not a slight against Jones, but it will slightly affect his draft stock. His release is not as quick as it could be, but that could improve with coaching.
Good fit for Redskins? Jones can make every throw in Kyle Shanahan’s playbook, and has played for a program that prepares their quarterbacks for NFL offenses. He has the size to stand tall in the pocket and take a hit, as well as the presence and athleticism to scramble when he has to. Jones would be a great fit in Washington.
Chances of becoming a Redskin: Also slim, but conceivable. Jones has slipped below Matt Barkley on some draft boards, and depending on who has the early picks, Jones could be passed on by teams that are not looking for a quarterback. He will probably go in the top 10, but an Aaron Rodgers scenario is always possible.
Strengths: Barkley is an athletic quarterback. He can throw to most areas on the field with accuracy, and moves with surprising agility and good footwork. He has excellent timing and touch for short passes and screens, and gets rid of the ball quickly.
Weaknesses: Barkley stands at 6’2”, just an average height for an NFL quarterback. The Southern Cal coaching staff uses Barkley in a lot of bootlegs and roll-outs that allow him to see the defense better, suggesting that he may struggle making reads in the pocket because of his height.
Good fit for Redskins? Barkley has certain attributes that would attract the Shanahans. He can deliver the ball quickly and accurately, and his timing on slants and other short routes is excellent. The only potential issues could be his height and his bleached-blonde hair.
Chances of becoming a Redskin: 10 percent. Right now Barkley sits behind Luck and Jones on most draft boards, so if any of these quarterbacks were to slip into the teens, it would be Barkley. He will probably be taken before Washington drafts, however.
Strengths: Griffin is the only true dual-threat quarterback in this year’s draft. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, and is strong enough to take hits if he decides to tuck and run.
Griffin also throws vertical passes with frightening strength and accuracy, and has improved his timing on the shorter throws. Griffin’s agility and quick release help him avoid sacks that most quarterbacks would have to take.
Weaknesses: Again, 6’2” and 220 lbs is not a bad size for a quarterback, but it is not ideal either. Baylor allows Griffin to start a lot of plays in shotgun, so his pocket presence is relatively untested.
Good fit for the Redskins? He is by no means a traditional pocket passer, but it is hard not to love Griffin’s intangibles. The son of two military parents, Griffin is in a position to graduate early and begin law school if he decides to stay at Baylor for another season.
Through six games in 2011, Griffin has thrown 22 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, displaying the kind of ball security the Redskins desperately need. He is a risky pick, but his tremendous upside forces Shanahan to consider it.
Chances of becoming a Redskin: 25 percent. In most mock drafts, Griffin is the fourth or fifth quarterback taken, which might mean he will be available when Washington is drafting.
There are other quarterbacks more suited to Shanahan’s offense, but Griffin is a quick learner and a tremendous athlete. Shanahan is not much of a risk taker, however, and will likely choose a more traditional pocket passer.
Strengths: Tannehill received recognition when he made Big-12 Honorable mention in 2009…as a receiver. He stands at 6’4” and 220 lbs, runs a 4.65 second 40-yard dash, and still has a huge arm even after playing receiver until his junior year. His size makes him tough to bring down in the pocket, and he delivers the ball with great timing and touch.
Weaknesses: Tannehill needs to improve his accuracy in the pocket, and tends to make most of his throws on the run at Texas A&M. He has yet to play a full season as the starting quarterback, and still shows signs of inexperience at the position.
Good fit for the Redskins? Despite his lack of starting experience, Tannehill has every physical trait that Shanahan could want in a franchise quarterback–he is tall, strong, and athletic. He can loft the ball over a linebacker for a seam route, or fire the ball into a slant. He also uses his eyes surprisingly well for how little experience he has, a must in Shanahan’s offense.
Chances of becoming a Redskin: 50 percent. Tannehill is the most likely candidate to take over as quarterback in Washington. He should be the fourth or fifth quarterback taken, but with such a deep class of quarterbacks in this draft, the Redskins would be getting great value with Tannehill. He can make every throw, and shows signs of improving inside the pocket. Washington fans should start watching Texas A&M play on Saturdays–they could be seeing a lot of Tannehill over the next several years.
Strengths: Weeden has a cannon for a throwing arm. A former minor league baseball player, Weeden has led the Oklahoma State offense to new heights for the past two seasons. He threw for over 4,200 yards last year, and is on pace for similar numbers in 2011.
Weaknesses: He is 28 years old, ancient by NFL draft standards. His statistics benefits from having standout receiver Justin Blackmon on the end, who will catch almost anything thrown in his general vicinity. He is not a mobile quarterback, and is more prone to turnovers than other quarterbacks in his class (13 interceptions in 2010).
Good fit for the Redskins? Washington does not appear to be a good fit for Weeden. Drafting a 28-year old rookie does not make sense for a lot of teams, but especially not for a team without any viable options at quarterback.
He can definitely make the difficult throws, but becoming comfortable in Shanahan’s offense takes time–time that Weeden spent playing in the Yankees farm system.
Chances of becoming a Redskin: 5 percent. He will probably be available for the Redskins to take, but hopefully they are exploring younger, better options that have more room to improve.
Strengths: At 6’5” and 240 lbs, Foles can stand in the pocket and take hits. He is very accurate when he needs to be, and as quarterback for the 1-5 Arizona Wildcats, he often has to make difficult throws into tight windows. This will actually serve him well in the NFL, where the throws become even tougher.
Weaknesses: Foles has decent but not great arm strength, and his throws to the sideline lack a certain zip on the ball. He appears shifty in the pocket at the college level, but he will effectively be a statue in the NFL.
Good fit for Redskins? Shanahan can appreciate Foles’s accuracy in the pocket, since it is the most important aspect of being a quarterback in Shanahan's system. He does not make many turnovers, and is already used to throwing to covered receivers. He could probably start right away, something that is not necessarily true about Griffin or Tannehill.
Chances of becoming a Redskin: 25 percent. If Shanahan picks a non-quarterback in the first round, he could reasonably expect to get Foles later in the draft. Foles is a solid talent who will fall because of the other good quarterbacks in his draft class.
Quarterback seems to Shanahan's first priority, but if he feels comfortable with Foles, or another quarterback who is not on this list, he can take an offensive lineman or address another need in the first round.