On a chilly March night in 2012, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder wakes up in a cold sweat in his Potomac, Maryland mansion. "I can't, I just can't," Snyder stammers under his breath. Wisps of a fever dream escape his mind, images of ominous newspaper headlines quickly fleeting from memory. Dan is eventually able to fall back to sleep, despite the lingering feeling of regret he can't quite seem to shake.
The next morning he phones Redskins' President & General Manager Bruce Allen. "Tell Snead he can suck it," referring to St. Louis Rams' General Manager Les 'Pretty Boy' Snead. "Are ... are you sure Mr. Snyder? We're getting close to a deal," Allen stammers back. "Just call it a feeling. A premonition if you will. Pull out of all negotiations," Snyder replies, feeling strangely confident in his decision. "Sure thing boss," says Allen, "You still need that dry cleaning picked up?" "Yes, yes. That too. Tell Mrs. Chung if those wine stains aren't satisfactorily removed I'll have her deported," retorts Snyder, quickly ending the call.
The following week, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Cleveland Browns have agreed in principle with the Rams to trade the #3 overall pick in the 2012 draft and two future first-round picks (2013 and 2014) in exchange for this year's #2 overall pick. The Browns are fully expected to use the number two pick to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
I will not use the benefit of 20/20 hindsight to use our regained picks - #6 and #39 overall in 2012, and first round picks in 2013 and 2014 - on who we now know is the best available player, but rather who I believe Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen would have picked given their draft "philosophies" at the time. I will also attempt to illustrate how this altered course creates a "butterfly effect" on future seasons, drafts, and the ultimate trajectory of the Washington Redskins. Of course this is just my humble opinion, and I strongly encourage your commentary in the comments section below.
Draft Selections: 1st: QB Ryan Tannehill; 2nd: C Peter Konz; 3rd: ILB Demario Davis; 4th: QB Kirk Cousins, CB Brandon Boykin; 5th: G Adam Gettis; 6th: RB Alfred Morris, T Tom Compton; 7th: CB Richard Crawford, CB Jordan Bernstine
Season Record: 6-10
Season Summary: The Redskins selected Ryan Tannehill at 6th overall to become to quarterback of the future. Head Coach Mike Shanahan was enamored with his raw arm talent and athleticism coming out of Texas A&M after converting from wide receiver, and believed he could mold Tannehill into an elite quarterback in his offensive system. Tannehill's first season with the Redskins was only mediocre, but showed promise. He was overshadowed by other rookie quarterbacks, namely Seattle's Russell Wilson, Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, and Cleveland's Robert Griffin III. The team also found several promising contributors in the draft, with linebacker Demario Davis taking over a starting role next to London Fletcher and cornerback Brandon Boykin starting in the slot. 6th round rookie Alfred Morris thrived in the Shanahan zone-blocking scheme, rushing for over 1,200 yards and earning an invitation to the Pro Bowl. The Redskins have a long way to go, but the future is looking bright in Washington.
Draft Selections: 1st: S Eric Reid; 2nd: WR Robert Woods; 3rd: TE Jordan Reed; 4th: S Phillip Thomas; 5th: RB Chris Thompson, OLB Brandon Jenkins; 6th: RB Theo Riddick; 7th: CB Jordan Poyer
Season Record: 8-8
Season Summary: Washington's main concern in 2013 was trying to improve their poor defensive unit, namely the secondary. They did so by investing a first-round pick in safety Eric Reid, who had an excellent rookie season and looks to be a fixture of the defense for the foreseeable future. 2nd year quarterback Ryan Tannehill also made significant strides, breaking the Redskins' single-season passing record with 4,200 yards in addition to passing for 25 touchdowns. Wide receiver Robert Woods and tight end Jordan Reed also looked like dynamic playmakers who will continue to grow in the offense with Tannehill. Despite the improvements made from the previous year, Washington failed to make the playoffs, with the Chip Kelly-led Eagles clinching the NFC East. The Redskins are a sleeper favorite to make a playoff run in 2014.
Draft Selections: 1st: T Zack Martin; 2nd: DE Stephon Tuitt; 3rd: CB Phillip Gaines; 4th: S Tre Boston; 5th: OLB Jonathan Newsome; 6th: C Matt Paradis; 7th: T Seantrel Henderson
Season Record: 10-6
Season Summary: Things finally came together for the Redskins in 2014, and Head Coach Mike Shanahan bought himself another year as the team made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Ryan Tannehill continued his ascent to franchise quarterback status under quarterback guru Shanahan, with over 4,000 yards passing and 31 TDs, tying Sonny Jurgensen's record set in 1967. Alfred Morris rushed for over 1,000 yards in his third consecutive season, and linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo combined for 21 sacks. Although Washington came in 2nd place in the NFC East to the 12-4 Dallas Cowboys, they were able to make the playoffs as a Wild Card team. After dispatching the quarterback-less Arizona Cardinals in the first round, Redskins fans were dreaming of a fourth Super Bowl, but their hopes were quickly dashed when Washington was demolished 41-17 by the Seattle Seahawks. The sour ending to the season led many fans to call for a coaching change, especially with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. However GM Bruce Allen decided to maintain continuity, and during the offseason key players' contracts were extended, including OLB Brian Orakpo and QB Ryan Tannehill.
Draft Selections: 1st: ILB Eric Kendricks; 2nd: CB Quinten Rollins; 3rd: WR Ty Montgomery; 4th: G Max Garcia; 5th: OLB Ryan Russell; 6th: NT Darius Kilgo; 7th: CB Taurean Nixon
Season Record: 5-11
Season Summary: The wheels fell off the bus in 2015 as the Jim Haslett-run defense was putrid, failing to generate any pressure on the quarterback, and the Tannehill-led offense wasn't able to pick up the slack. Several key players suffered season-ending injuries such as Brian Orakpo, DeAngelo Hall and Jordan Reed. Tannehill played well at times, but failed to consistently prove he was a franchise-caliber quarterback. The Redskins have major questions at the position after handing Tannehill a massive extension last offseason worth close to $100 million. Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins is an unrestricted free agent, and although the coaching staff likes him, he is an unknown quantity, having never played a down in the NFL.
Because of the massively disappointing season coming off a playoff appearance, owner Dan Snyder fires Mike Shanahan and the entire coaching staff. President Bruce Allen agrees to step down from GM responsibilities and brings on Jon Robinson from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be the new General Manager. Robinson then selects Sean McDermott, defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, to be the new head coach of the Washington Redskins. The Redskins could potentially be interested in bringing in Eagles' quarterback Robert Griffin III to compete with Tannehill this offseason, who was acquired by Chip Kelly from the Browns last year.