For the second consecutive year in the days leading up to the Super Bowl, several pundits project the Redskins will use their mid-first-round pick in April’s NFL draft on a quarterback, perhaps a Heisman Trophy winner out of Oklahoma.
Last year, in predicting the Sooners’ Baker Mayfield would wind up in Washington, the prevailing thought among mock drafters in late January was that Kirk Cousins was as good as gone after playing the previous two seasons on the franchise tag. The Mayfield-to-D.C. mocks would change after the Redskins’ surprising trade for Chiefs veteran Alex Smith during Super Bowl week. The Browns ultimately took Mayfield No. 1 overall, while Washington used its first-round pick on Alabama defensive tackle Daron Payne.
This year, with Smith’s status for the 2019 season in serious doubt as he recovers from a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg, Washington is a popular landing spot for Kyler Murray, who succeeded Mayfield as the Sooners’ QB and led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff. In his mock draft for The Post last week, John Clayton has the Heisman winner going to the Redskins with the 15th pick.
“The Redskins are in a tough spot at quarterback,” Clayton writes. “Alex Smith is trying to recover from a gruesome leg fracture and it isn’t a guarantee he’ll be available at the start of the season. Nick Foles, Joe Flacco and other free agent passers might be too expensive to fit under their salary cap. That leaves them with the draft as their only realistic option to upgrade the position, which could cause them to look at Murray, the dynamic but undersized dual-threat Heisman winner.”
Echoing Clayton’s concerns about Smith’s future, NFL.com’s Gil Brandt identified Washington as the best landing spot for Murray.
“Though Alex Smith might not be able to play in 2019 . . . the team still owes him quite a sum,” Brandt writes. “Murray could provide a youthful — and affordable — spark at the position the likes of which the Redskins haven’t seen since Robert Griffin III dazzled his way to the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Redskins President Bruce Allen offered few details about Smith’s recovery when he spoke to reporters at the Senior Bowl last week, but unless the Redskins acquire another quarterback via a trade or free agency, expect to see Murray and other signal-callers linked to Washington in the first round in the coming weeks. The Redskins have taken three quarterbacks in the first round since 2000, most recently in 2012, when they traded up to select Griffin.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Murray is the most intriguing quarterback prospect in this year’s class, and not only because of the questions about his size. The two-sport star received a $4.66 million signing bonus as the ninth overall pick of the Oakland A’s in last year’s MLB draft, and the A’s reportedly haven’t given up convincing Murray to stick to baseball. Talent evaluators are split on whether Murray will be a first-round pick in the NFL draft, even if he were to commit to football.
“I’m not sure anyone can say at this point,” a personnel executive with one NFL team told The Post’s Mark Maske. “You love the talent. There’s star quality there. But you don’t really know. There are a lot of variables right now.”
Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins is widely regarded as the top quarterback in this year’s class and, barring a trade, is expected to be off the board by the time Washington picks in the first round. Neither Haskins nor Murray attended the Senior Bowl, but the Redskins met with all eight quarterbacks who were there, including potential first-rounders Daniel Jones of Duke and Drew Lock of Missouri. Jones, who won Senior Bowl MVP honors, and Lock have both been linked to the Redskins in other recent mock drafts.
A lot will change between now and April, but here’s a look at how a handful of pundits see the Redskins using their first-round pick.
ESPN.com: Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida
This is another potential landing spot for Kyler Murray. Alex Smith’s scary injury put his future in jeopardy, and it wouldn’t shock me if the Redskins added a young quarterback this offseason.
Mel Kiper Jr.
Kiper predicts the Giants will draft Haskins sixth and the Dolphins will take Murray 13th.
USA Today: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
The Browns threw the book out when they made Baker Mayfield last year’s top pick, and I won’t be shocked to see another team follow suit with Murray this year. With Alex Smith’s future still in doubt, Washington trades their second-rounder and likely an additional pick to move up for a dynamic playmaker at the game’s most important position.
NFL.com: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The uncertainty surrounding Alex Smith and his return from injury could force the Redskins to jump into the quarterback market on draft day. Jones is a big, athletic playmaker with enough arm strength and mobility to make plays inside and outside of the pocket.
Brooks predicts Haskins and Lock will be taken sixth and seventh, respectively, and Murray will go to the Patriots with the 31st pick.
CBS Sports: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
If the Redskins stay put, this would be a prudent selection even though Lock isn’t a traditional West Coast Offense quarterback. It’s time for Jay Gruden to broaden his horizons as a play-caller and start pushing the ball downfield more frequently. Lock can certainly do that.
CBS Sports: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Metcalf is the best wide receiver in this draft and he’d give whomever will be under center for the Redskins a legit downfield playmaker. (Of course, taking a quarterback here could be an option but with three already off the board we’re not sure we’ll see another go in this round.)
In his previous mock draft, Wilson predicted the Redskins would trade up to draft Murray.
NBC Sports Washington: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
Where to begin. The Redskins could consider safety, guard and wide receiver here. Nobody can forget the quarterback uncertainty. If somehow Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray remains on the board, look out. Meanwhile, pass rusher Preston Smith is headed to free agency and there’s a sense the Redskins' aren’t making his retention a priority. Edge prospect Montez Sweat works as a potential replacement. Finally, late-season events moved inside linebacker into a priority category. Bush, the Big Ten DPOY offers three-down talent.
The Draft Network: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
Washington hasn’t been able to replace Desean Jackson’s speed since he left, and with Paul Richardson struggling to stay healthy his entire career, their wide receiver corps desperately needs someone they can count on. This is too high for Brown in my book, but Washington needs a field stretcher, and that’s what he does best.
SB Nation: Brian Burns, DE, Florida State
Washington would probably like to see Lock or Murray available with the 15th pick if Alex Smith misses the 2019 season, or perhaps [Mississippi State DE Montez] Sweat. If they’re all gone, the next tier of players the team might consider is Duke quarterback Daniel Jones and edge rushers Brian Burns of Florida State and Clelin Ferrell of Clemson. If the choice is a pass rusher, Burns is a better system fit than Ferrell.
Bleacher Report: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
Kristopher Knox predicts Haskins (6th), Murray (7th) and Lock (10th) will be off the board by the time the Redskins make their pick.
NJ.com: Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
Thornhill could help plug the hole left by Swearinger and Clinton-Dix that we mentioned earlier. He picked off 10 passes over the past two seasons and is seen as a high-IQ player. He’s still relatively new to the position, too, so there could be some added upside as he learns.
WalterFootball.com: Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The Redskins are desperate for a quarterback and will likely have to trade up. Based on Charlie Campbell’s reporting in the Senior Bowl Rumors page, it sounds like Washington prefers Daniel Jones over the other quarterbacks at this time, but fears that he’ll be off the board by No. 15. Daniel Jones has positive arm strength and athleticism, and he could be the second quarterback off the board because of his upside. Some are comparing him to Carson Wentz.
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