It’s been a revolving door of quarterback prospects at Redskins Park for the past month, as the team does its research before potentially making a critical selection in the NFL draft.
A trade for Arizona’s Josh Rosen would take off some of the pressure, but if that doesn’t happen, it’s nearly certain that Washington will take a quarterback at some point early in the draft. The Redskins hold the No. 15 selection in the first round.
Redskins scouts have attended games and pro days and have access to game film, but will also fly in prospects for interviews.
Each member of the organization is seeking something different in that time. For coach Jay Gruden, it’s an ability to pick up his offense and run it effectively.
“You want to grind them on the tape, what they know about football,” Gruden said. “How he’s going to protect himself. What he knows about overload blitzes and jam fronts and double-A [gap] blitzes and nickel blitzes and all that stuff.
“Mainly get to know him as a person and how quickly he feels he can learn. Each week, there’s a different game plan, you’re going to see different defenses, a different set of challenges. How do we feel he can adapt to those situations?”
On draft day, the Redskins will have more qualified opinions than many teams. That means an extensive set of conversations during a visit.
“Each person who will talk to a prospect will be looking for a different trait or characteristic,” team president Bruce Allen said.
Allen pointed out that Gruden was a former quarterback, as is senior VP of player personnel Doug Williams. Among assistant coaches, Kevin O’Connell and Matt Cavanaugh have experience as NFL quarterbacks.
“We have a very unique quarterback organization,” Allen said. “They’re all looking for what they’re looking for. They’ll get to meet him and see how he handles himself.”
The draft can’t come soon enough for Gruden, as the team’s voluntary offseason workouts began on Monday.
While Colt McCoy and Alex Smith remain on the roster, neither is healthy enough to participate in OTA workouts. Josh Johnson is not yet under contract, but is also injured at the moment and would not be able to participate.
That leaves Case Keenum as the only quarterback on the roster when practices begin.
Winning now is a priority for Gruden, and when asked about the prospects, he indicated there weren’t many who he felt were ready to step in and play in a game right away.
While Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray is expected to be off the board early, three top quarterbacks could make it to the 15th selection — Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock and Duke’s Daniel Jones.
“Drew could come compete right now,” Gruden said. “But ideally when you have a guy who only played one year [like Haskins], you’d like to have him sit a little bit to get him used to it, not to say he couldn’t play — I’m sure he could come in and compete.”
Gruden was clear that for a first-round pick, he expects immediate production.
“There is no developmental process here,” he said. “This is not Triple-A baseball, we’re not trying to develop a pitcher here.
“Ryan Kerrigan is not expecting us to come out and say, let’s build for the future. We’ve got to win now. Josh Norman, same way. Landon Collins did not come here to be good in 2034. They came here to be good and compete to win a Super Bowl this year.”
The coach said his film study of the top 10 quarterbacks in the draft has been extensive, and it builds on work the Redskins scouts have done for the past months.
The question now is which direction the Redskins will go. The Cardinals could still shop Rosen, which would be an intriguing option. If it comes down to a draft pick, will the Redskins pull the trigger early, or wait for a quarterback in the second or third round they like just as much.
That’s been a winning roster building strategy for teams that can connect on a late-round pick, getting a star quarterback at a fraction of the usual cost.
“You cant reach for the quarterback of the future,” Gruden said. “If I don’t feel like, or if we don’t feel like as an organization, this guy fits that criteria, then we can’t reach and take him just because he’s a quarterback. Maybe it’s a second- or third-rounder that can develop into that guy that’s not as risky as a first-rounder, because those first-round picks, you’ve got to hit on those first-rounders to be a successful franchise.”