We talk a lot around here about the necessity of getting a franchise quarterback in the fold as soon as possible--a point we can all agree on I am sure. Unfortunately, franchise quarterbacks are not drafted or signed. They materialize after a team and player get through the "getting to know you" stage; after both sides become familiar with all the pros and cons of a life with each other; and...gulp...after an owner has already allocated precious resources to the player. I liken it to the search for "the one" we all have likely engaged in at one point or another. There's no shortage of pitfalls, drama and strife in such a journey. If and when you succeed in finding and/or marrying "the one", it is because the decision was mutual--you were "the one" for them, too. In short, you can't force someone to be your franchise quarterback, just like you can't force someone to marry you. Let the long and endless road of broken hearts serve as a reminder that time and time again, identifying "the one" is risky business. I'll say it again at the end, but today I am arguing that we have an opportunity to use the next two drafts to increase our overall chances of landing a franchise quarterback without burning the precious draft resources necessary to solidify the team around him.
We have a healthy mix of people who regularly read Hogs Haven. Some of you are married/engaged/dating, some of you are single and all of you have made unique journeys to end up in one of those buckets. Perhaps one lesson we can all relate to is that finding that person you are ready and willing to commit to for the long haul is not as easy as just picking them out and moving in together. In addition to having some stability in other facets of your life to help make things work, there is also the matter of the other person choosing you back and being equally devoted.
Finding a franchise quarterback is very much the same way. You don't draft a franchise quarterback, or even sign a franchise quarterback. You do have high hopes when you draft or sign a player, but if you don't allow for the possibility that it might not work out, you could end up being stuck with someone for a long time in a very bad relationship. After all, we don't want to end up like Cameron from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" do we...proposing to the first person we get into bed? I think we all need to recognize that landing our franchise guy is much more difficult than just acquiring Robert Griffin. (At this point, I would like to underline that I am speaking metaphorically--I am not suggesting we will or should have any kind of sexual relations with our draft picks. Sorry Parks.)
The preference would of course be to use the draft to bring in the savior of our offense and fanbase, but it is looking increasingly doubtful that the "best" quarterbacks will even be available when it is our turn to make a selection.
Free agency is always an option, except when the potential free agent class of quarterbacks is as much of a crapshoot as the draft. While I think Matt Flynn would be an upgrade over Rex Grossman, the fact of the matter is that for Flynn, it would be like going from the Broadway cast of "The Lion King" to a pre-school ensemble production. The Redskins can't hold a candle right now to the talent that exists on the Green Bay offense. While Flynn showed me he is more than capable of making the throws and leading his team, there would be WAY more on his shoulders in D.C. than there ever was or would have been in Green Bay. Being a good enough player to execute inside an offense built with a disgusting amount of talent is a far cry from being a good enough player to carry an offense built with swiss cheese and bong water.
No...Matt Flynn is not even close to being a slam dunk for the Redskins. Despite the relative uncertainty surrounding a player with limited starts, this has more to do with the Redskins and less to do with Flynn. Even if we were sitting pretty at #1 or #2 overall in the draft, the success of either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III would be similarly handicapped due to the lack of talent surrounding those guys. To be fair, I would have ZERO problem using my #1 or #2 pick on either Luck or Griffin, but I have a BIG problem paying up for the right to make that pick.
Part of my problem with the trade up scenario is that there is this notion that all we are missing is a franchise quarterback. While it is a glaring need, we have other glaring needs too. A franchise quarterback would solve a lot of our problems, but that player would not be able to rush the passer, pass-block, or solidify our secondary. Trading up for Griffin could potentially cost us one or more of each of those players.
Further, this draft would really be Shanahan's first foray into the search for a young franchise signal caller for the Redskins. Between McNabb, Grossman and Beck, the Redskins have not gone down the rookie path yet under this regime (though players like Bradford and Sanchez were reportedly considered). We can't count on a home run on our first swing. Part of why I continue to advocate for trading down and picking up two quarterbacks in this draft has to do with the fact that both would have a chance to be "the one." And if neither one is, the additional picks we would have acquired in subsequent drafts would arm us with the ammo necessary to take another swing without trading away a bucket load of future picks.
I would not be afraid to use a top pick on either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin. A pick in the top two is a heavy bat worth swinging, especially for a team that would then still have all of its other picks in the current draft and subsequent drafts. Paying up to move up is a much different beast. It is an all-in move that has a much slimmer margin for error. I contend that the Redskins can not afford such a move at this stage of their development. Given that Griffin and Luck will be long gone by the time #6 rolls around, the Redskins are best served moving down in the first round and acquiring whatever they can get in the way of extra picks. We can use those extra picks to buy a couple of lottery ticket quarterbacks this year (Ryan Tannehill and Kellen Moore for instance) and see if we have a big winner. Assuming Bruce Allen is capable of unearthing talent in the second, third and fourth rounds again this April, we will have added essential pieces to our roster. Next year, if neither Tannehill nor Moore is "the one," the added picks and the firmer foundation would provide Bruce Allen the option of getting more aggressive.
I know I will take some heat for arguing against trading up this year but suggesting it is okay to trade up next year. I have no horse in next year's draft. I am not ready to argue who is the best between Griffin or Barkley or Jones or any other quarterback that could emerge between now and the 2013 draft. I am merely arguing that we have the opportunity to use the next two drafts to increase our overall chances of landing a franchise quarterback without costing us the precious draft resources necessary to solidify the team around him.