As the draft gets closer and closer it looks more and more like the Redskins will not be faced with the choice of whether or not they should take quarterback Marcus Mariota with the fifth overall pick.
In his Monday Morning Quarterback column this morning, Peter King said that from what he can gather, the Titans, who hold the No. 2 pick in the draft, will either take Mariota or deal the pick to someone who wants the Heisman Trophy winner.
King said that the Titans scouted Mariota heavily this year and the feeling in the organization is that he would be able to make a successful transition into being an NFL-style pocket passer. He said that his “gut feeling” is that that the Titans will take Mariota rather than trade the pick.
But it doesn’t really matter to the Redskins if the Titans end up with Mariota or if another team takes him. The dynamics are the same if he goes anywhere in the top four picks. There would ripple effects that reach the Redskins:
—They won’t have to decide if they are going to take a successor to Robert Griffin III this week. Although the Redskins could take a quarterback later in the draft, the selection of Mariota would almost dictate an immediate departure for Griffin to avoid the circus that would accompany two young Heisman winners competing for the same job. Any quarterback taken later in the draft would need time to develop, giving Griffin more time to, well, develop.
—Mariota will not be around for the Redskins to dangle as trade bait. Although other players could be attractive targets that a team might want to trade up for, a possible franchise quarterback on the board can make teams give up an irrational amount of compensation (see Redskins, 2012). But Fowler, Williams, Cooper, wide receiver Kevin White and perhaps even Beasley could get Scot McCloughan’s phone ringing. The last two years, teams have traded into the top five to get an edge rusher and a wide receiver so if there isn’t a quarterback worth trading up for on the board all trade hopes will not be lost.
—The Redskins are likely to have at least one of the top three players in the draft on the board when the No. 5 pick comes up. One possible scenario if Jameis Winston goes first to the Bucs as is widely expected and Mariota goes second to someone, the Jaguars, picking third, could take defensive lineman Leonard Williams and the Raiders might go with wide receiver Amari Cooper. That would leave the Redskins with their choice of the top two edge rushers in the draft, Dante Fowler Jr. or Vic Beasley. If the Jaguars take Fowler, Williams could fall into the Redskins’ lap. In any case, a very good player who would not otherwise have been available will be there for Washington is Mariota goes in the top four picks.