It’s no secret the Washington Redskins are shopping for another quarterback — team officials have acknowledged as much publicly several times in the lead-up to Thursday’s NFL draft.
The surprise may be the degree to which the team is looking.
The Redskins, who have injured franchise quarterback Alex Smith and two former NFL starters in Colt McCoy and Case Keenum on the roster already, have met with at least nine quarterback draft prospects this offseason. Only the New York Giants, with 11, have met with more, according to Pro Football Focus.
With just a couple of days left before decision time, though, the Redskins are playing it close to the vest. Either none of the incoming rookies have captured the imagination of owner Dan Snyder and his executives the way Robert Griffin III did in 2012, when the team gave up a bundle of picks to move up and take the Heisman winner.
Or the team brass is running a little misdirection.
“The chance of trading up is a lot slimmer than trading back,” senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams said Monday. “I think where we are and what we’re trying to do here with this football team, you know, we don’t make a move, either way, we got to work with what we have. … I’m going to go on the record and say that’s a possibility that we won’t trade up, but there’s a great possibility we’ll trade back if that opportunity came.”
Based on a roundup of pre-draft meetings and visits from WalterFootball.com, the Redskins have met individually with the following quarterback prospects: Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock, Duke’s Daniel Jones, West Virginia’s Will Grier, Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley and Purdue’s David Blough.
Unlike 2018 — when four quarterbacks went in the top 10 — it’s hard to tell how many quarterbacks will be selected early on. The Redskins have the 15th overall pick, though they have other holes — edge rusher, guard, wide receiver — on the roster that could have them hesitate to take a quarterback in the first round.
Williams reiterated Monday that last month’s trade for Keenum doesn’t rule out adding at the position.
“We don’t know who is going to be there at 15,” Williams said. “We got some guys that we do like, and if those guys are there, then that is a discussion that has to be had. … It all depends on the board. Who is highest on the board at that particular time? That quarterback is the highest and we got a pick, nine out of 10 it’s going to be a quarterback but if not, then that is a discussion.”
As for other spots, Williams said the Redskins need a “go-to guy” at wide receiver. The team also doesn’t have a clear starter at left guard, despite last month’s signing of Ereck Flowers.
On defense, the Redskins could look to bring in someone to challenge Ryan Anderson for the starting outside linebacker spot opposite Ryan Kerrigan. Anderson has the opportunity to start after Preston Smith’s departure in free agency, and coach Jay Gruden said last month that it’s time for the Alabama product to step up heading into his third year.
Safety is also a need. Montae Nicholson and Troy Apke are on the roster, but neither had an encouraging 2018 to suggest they are ready to start next to Landon Collins. Nicholson didn’t play again after his December arrest for assault and Apke’s year was cut short due to a hamstring injury. Veteran Deshazor Everett has starting experience, but the Redskins view him more as a special teams ace.
Williams didn’t even rule out adding to the interior of the defensive line, pointing to how they took Tim Settle in the fifth round last year after drafting Daron Payne in the first.
“There are a bunch of positions … that we have to get better at,” Williams said. “I think it would be unfair to just name one.”
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