- Mike Shanahan is expected to take a quarterback in this year's draft, but is Rex Grossman the best option for that prospect to learn under? (Photo: Associated Press)
It’s no secret the Washington Redskins are in the market for a quarterback.
No one expects Mike Shanahan to give the Donovan McNabb experiment a second chance. And although Kyle Shanahan likes Rex Grossman, he doesn’t appear to be the long-term solution. John Beck believes he can be the answer, but is he? And will he get a legitimate shot to prove that’s the case?
The Redskins are expected to try to find their franchise quarterback in the NFL draft this April. They own the 10th overall pick, and then pick again with the 10th pick of the second round. It’d be a pretty big surprise if Washington didn’t use one of those picks on a quarterback.
Here’s a look at their options:
A lot of scouts have Missouri's Blain Gabbert as the highest-rated quarterback in the draft. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, he has the size, and he also has a great stat line: 262 completions on 445 attempts, 3,593 yards, 24 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. But there also should be some concerns about Gabbert. Running the spread offense at Missouri, he rarely took a snap under center and isn’t experienced at scanning a field while dropping back. Instead, he was almost always in the shotgun, and in his team’s system he had one destination for the ball and didn’t have to work through progressions. Despite all that, some projections have him going as high as third in the draft, others have him going in the seven to 10 range.
There’s debate over the next best quarterback prospect in the draft. Washington's Jake Locker is physically one of the most gifted passers in the draft, possessing good size (6-2-½, 229 pounds) and running a consistent 4.4-second 40-yard dash. He might have been the top pick in the draft had he come out after his junior year, when he completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. But opinions have cooled on him following his senior season, which saw him complete 55.4 percent of his passes for 2,265 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Some believe he would fit well in the Shanahan’s system, but he has trouble with accuracy and reading the field. There’s a good chance that he could be around at No. 10, but like Gabbert, Locker looks like he would be a project.
Auburn’s Cam Newton is the hottest name after winning the Heisman and leading his school to the national championship. He's a stud of an athlete and has great size at 6-5, 248 pounds and this past year completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 2,854 yards, 30 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. The problem is, this was his only significant playing time on the Division I level. Can he make a successful jump to the NFL without more seasoning? There’s no denying Newton’s physical tools. But the question is, is he more JaMarcus Russell/Vince Young or is he more Josh Freeman -- the Tampa Bay’s young, big, physically-talented, fast-rising quarterback?
Arkansas' Ryan Mallet is another big quarterback (6-foot-7, 238 pounds), and he has a cannon for an arm. He has put up big numbers in each of the last two seasons, passing for more than 3,600 yards and 30 touchdowns in each. This past year, he completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 3,869 yards, 32 TDs and 12 INTs. He's not very good under pressure, however, and he has taken most of his snaps out of the shotgun, so needs some refining in that area similarly to how Gabbert does.
After that, there are a handful of options like Delaware's Pat Devlin, Alabama's Greg McElroy, TCU's Andy Dalton and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, but all of those guys are expected to go in the third and fourth rounds, and Washington doesn't have a third or fourth-round pick.
All of the top quarterback prospects have some flash to them, but none of them appear to be capable of stepping in from Day 1 like Sam Bradford and directing the offense. The Redskins likely would have to groom them behind a veteran early on, and then turn the reins over to them at some point.
But who is the veteran for that young quarterback to study under? Is it Grossman, who is due to become a free agent but wants to return? Or would the Redskins look to bring in a free agent with a more solid body of work, someone like Marc Bulger -- who reportedly received some consideration by Shanahan & Co. last offseason before they opted to go after McNabb -- Matt Hasselbeck or Kerry Collins? Otherwise, the quarterback free agent class is pretty slim. Michael Vick and Peyton Manning will receive big pay days from their current teams, and after that, it’s the Charlie Frye, Kyle Boller and J.P. Losman types.