Despite bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick in the offseason, the Washington Football Team still has been linked to quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Given that the team is set to pick No. 19, mock drafts have not shied away from scenarios in which the team moves up to grab one of the top prospects at the position. It's plausible, given that Washington doesn't have a long-term solution under center, and there is an opportunity to trade up to No. 4 with Atlanta or wait back and see if a quarterback slips enough to only move up a few spots.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. isn't ruling out those possibilities for Washington, but he also knows there are plenty of variables that will make it challenging for the team to grab a quarterback.
For starters, Washington will need to internally evaluate just how important potentially grabbing one of the top arms is, given that cost and risk will play a major part. The team needs to be set on mortgaging some of the future and be confident in at least one prospect.
“How far up do you have to go? And who do you target? Do you target Trey Lance? Do you target Justin Fields?" Kiper said to the media on Thursday.
In addition, there will be plenty of outside variables that come into play. To Kiper, and many others, there are five quarterback prospects that are primary options in the draft. They are Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields and Mac Jones.
The consensus believes that three of those will be gone immediately, and while there's a chance for a slight lull after that, it also wouldn't be a surprise if all five are off the board very early Thursday night.
"Because the Top 3 are going to be quarterbacks, they’re locked in, so there’s two left," Kiper said. "And then you also have, Atlanta could take a quarterback, Denver could take a quarterback. New England could trade up for a quarterback."
That's almost precisely what Kiper has happening in his latest mock draft.
Lawrence, Wilson and Jones go to Jacksonville, New York and San Francisco, respectively. Then Atlanta trades back from No. 4 to No. 6 and grabs Lance while New England trades up to No. 10 to select Fields.
Kiper could see Washington being a team that attempts to trade up for a quarterback, but considering all the other QB-needy teams that pick before them, he has a feeling that all the best options will be gone unless the organization wants to put all its chips on the table and make a major move up.
So, what does Washington do instead to potentially address the position? Kiper gives the team a quarterback in the second round in the form of Stanford product Davis Mills.
Unlike some of the others, Mills is a project for the future. With limited starting experience but a lot of upside in his game, Kiper sees him as a quarterback that a team can take a gamble on and hope that his talent translates to success at the next level.
With Washington having Fitzpatrick for at least 2021, it's something the team could take on.
“Bottom line is you’re taking about a second-round pick who had a really good Pro Day and a nice year, and he’s got all the tools. This is a kid highly rated, a five-star recruit. Number one pocket passer some people thought that had a lot of talent coming into Stanford. He’s going to probably leave as a second-round draft choice.”
As the draft approaches, the idea of Washington moving up for a quarterback will continue to exist, and it's not an insane scenario to consider. Still, with all the variables at play and other teams vying for the top guys as well, Kiper knows it won't be easy for Washington to make it a reality.