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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 02/14/2012

NFL draft: Redskins’ best QB option could be Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill

In the last week, we took a look at quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Kyle Orton and Matt Flynn and how they may or may not fit with the Washington Redskins, who desperately need an answer under center.

But one thing’s clear. Regardless of whom the Redskins go with in free agency — whether the Colts release Manning and Mike Shanahan succeeds in luring the future Hall of Famer (if he’s healthy) to D.C., or if it’s Orton, which seems like the safer move, or if Washington elects to re-sign Rex Grossman — Washington must draft a quarterback.


Trading up to draft Robert Griffin III will be costly and Ryan Tannehill (17) might be available to Washington in the second round. (David J. Phillip - AP)
Manning won’t have regained full strength by the time free agency begins on March 13, and he might not until closer to August. And if he does, how much longer can he play at a high level? One, two, three seasons?

Orton is solid, but isn’t a franchise savior. There doesn’t seem to be interest on Washington’s part in Flynn, and Grossman struggles to avoid turnovers.

So, it’d be ideal for the Redskins to select a passer in this year’s draft, groom him this year and then turn the wheel over to him next year.

Does it mean trading up to get Robert Griffin III at the No. 2 or No. 3 spot? Or does it mean sitting tight at No. 6, taking the best available player that fills a need – wide receiver, offensive lineman, defensive back – and then going after someone like Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill with the second-round pick?

That’s what Mike Shanahan & Co. must decide. Griffin doesn’t have the size of Cam Newton, but is compared to him, and he seems to have the tools that fit what Kyle Shanahan likes to do with his offense.

It would mean swapping this year’s first-round picks, giving away next year’s first-rounder and possibly this year’s second- or third-rounder. But if Griffin is as good as advertised, then Mike Shanahan not only finds his answer at quarterback, but also buys himself some more time in his rebuilding process.

Would the Redskins be able to pull off a trade with the Rams at No. 2? It would seem like their chances are good. Shanahan is close with the new St. Louis coach, Jeff Fisher, who has helped Shanahan out with a quarterback in the draft before. In 2006, Shanahan interviewed Jay Cutler at the NFL Scouting Combine, but never had him out to Denver for a pre-draft workout/interview because he didn’t want other teams to suspect his interest. Instead, he picked the brain of Fisher, who had spent time with Cutler. The Broncos traded up to the 11th spot and selected the Vanderbilt passer.

Could that friendship come into play again?

Or, are the Redskins safer either using the sixth pick or trading down from there, adding more picks to improve their overall depth, using that first-rounder on another need and then getting Tannehill in the second?

There is some intrigue over Tannehill on the Redskins’ part. The coaches hoped for a chance to work with him at the Senior Bowl, but a broken foot kept that from happening, and it appears unlikely that he’ll be healthy in time for next week’s combine. But Tannehill was believed to have a first-round grade before his foot injury. He has good size at 6 feet 4, 222 pounds. Last season, he threw for 3,744 yards, 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. A converted wide receiver, he possesses good athleticism and mobility.

Not being able to work out for teams hurts, but Tannehill can still go through the interview processes.

Arizona’s Nick Foles, Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden and Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins all did more to eliminate themselves than help themselves at the Senior Bowl, so that limits Washington’s choices, and if it’s not Griffin or Tannehill, then who?

Waiting until next year could be the only other option, but with a combined 11-21 record in two seasons, 2013 is no sure thing for Mike Shanahan and his rebuilding project. But, you don’t just take a quarterback for the sake of taking a quarterback. The Redskins likely would try to upgrade other areas of the roster and hope to rely heavily on their defense and hope that this year’s bridge quarterback, whomever it may be, can keep them in games late in the season so Dan Snyder can tell his team is making progress.

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By  |  11:30 AM ET, 02/14/2012

 
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