You’re supposed to get a playmaker with a top five pick, but adding another defensive lineman won’t help the Redskins after they signed Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean Francois. General manager Scot McCloughan won’t stockpile one position like predecessor Vinny Cerrato did in 2008, when he drafted two receivers and a tight end in the second round.
Even though Ray and Gregory could be the best available players at No. 5, the Redskins will look elsewhere. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is the expected first choice by Tampa Bay while USC defensive end Leonard Williams will likely go second to Tennessee. With the third pick, Jacksonville could be a wild card but may select Florida linebacker Dante Fowler. Oakland will likely take a receiver — either Alabama’s Amari Cooper or West Virginia’s Kevin White — at No. 4.
That leaves Washington to choose between Mariota, Ray and Gregory or trade down. Taking any of the three wouldn’t be a bad long-term move, but neither would peddling the pick to move back and draft Alabama safety Landon Collins, Iowa tackle/guard Brandon Scherff or Washington cornerback Marcus Peters.
Defense will dominate the first round, which works for the Redskins. Aside from the line, they don’t have a priority offensive need — unless they opt to replace quarterback Robert Griffin III with Mariota. Given coach Jay Gruden’s lukewarm declaration that Griffin is the starter entering training camp, it seems the Redskins’ front office is pushing for one last chance for the passer.
In that case, the Redskins might trade the No. 5 pick to Philadelphia or the New York Jets or even another team unable to find a passer via free agency. The Jets at No. 6 wouldn’t give the Redskins much in return to swap spots if they suspect Washington has no other takers, and trading to NFC East rival Philadelphia is never wise.
The ideal trade partner is Cleveland, if the Browns don’t believe in Johnny Manziel anymore. The Browns have the 12th and 19th picks. Washington wouldn’t get both, but the 12th and a 2016 high pick might work.
After all, the draft is always about quarterbacks.