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HOFFMAN: Redskins should draft a QB in the first round, or not draft one at all

February 20, 2019 - 9:45 pm

By Craig Hoffman

The uncertainty around Alex Smith has led to a major question at quarterback for the Redskins entering the 2019 season.

Colt McCoy is healthy and ready to go. Josh Johnson is technically available and an option as well, however the most likely scenario is McCoy and a rookie to challenge him and/or back him up. That is because Washington cannot really afford another veteran, with Smith costing $20.4 million in 2019 and McCoy costing another $3.5 million.

The problem is that the 2019 quarterback class is not seen as very strong. It got stronger with the addition of Kyler Murray, however the first four quarterbacks in the 2018 class were all stronger prospects than Dwayne Haskins, who will go first in April.

This has led to many fans thinking the Redskins should enter this year's draft with no plans of taking a first-round QB. The thought goes: Take the best player available at another position and then worry about quarterback later in the draft. While that sounds good on paper, there is substantial evidence that that strategy would actually be wasting a pick.

An overwhelming amount of starting quarterbacks in the NFL were taken in the first two rounds. How many is overwhelming?

Because this is the offseason, there's not really a great way to standardize the criteria. Some teams have laid a 2019 plan, while some have not.

To compile the data, I used the player who will be the starter if healthy next year, with the exceptions being for teams that have no clear plan, in which case I'll use last year's starter, assuming that player is still on their roster. Those teams would be Jacksonville (Blake Bortles), Miami (Ryan Tannehill) and Cincinnati (Andy Dalton).

We're counting Alex Smith for the Redskins under these rules because if he does come back and is ready to play, he's the guy, even if he's unlikely to be ready.

Team - QB (Round)

WAS - Smith (1)

DAL - Prescott (4)

NYG - Manning (1)

PHI - Wentz (1)

CAR - Newton (1)

ATL - Ryan (1)

TAM - Winston (1)

NO - Brees (2)

LAR - Goff (1)

SF - Garoppolo (2)

SEA - Wilson (3)

ARZ - Rosen (1)

GB - Rodgers (1)

CHI - Trubisky (1)

DET - Stafford (1)

MIN - Cousins (4)

NE - Brady (6)

NYJ - Darnold (1)

BUF - Allen (1)

MIA - Tannehill (1)

JAX - Bortles (1)

IND - Luck (1)

TEN - Mariota (1)

HOU - Watson (1)

KC - Mahomes (1)

LAC - Rivers (1)

OAK - Carr (2)

DEN - Flacco (1)

BAL - Jackson (1)

CIN - Dalton (2)

PIT - Roethlisberger (1)

CLE - Mayfield (1)

Summary By Round:

First: 24

Second: 4

Third: 1

Fourth: 2

Fifth: 0

Sixth: 1

Seventh: 0

That means 28 of the 32 starters have been drafted in the first or second round. The exceptions are Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott. Nick Foles (third-round pick) will likely be someone's starter next year. The next best veteran bet is likely Case Keenum, who would be the league's only undrafted starter.

That means 87.5 percent of the league's starting quarterbacks are first- or second-round players. So the Redskins should take a quarterback in the first two rounds, and almost certainly in the first round, where 24 of the 28 were taken. Obviously. Right?

"But it's a bad QB class," screams the fan from paragraph two! Which, we think, is true. Making that argument more compelling on the surface is that the 2020 class will be loaded.

Tua Tagovailoa is being talked about as one of the best prospects we've seen in a long, long time, and I'm not convinced he's going to beat out Jake Fromm to be the first quarterback off the board. Justin Herbert from Oregon will also be available, and all three would have probably gone above Haskins this year, with Herbert being the only one that's a maybe.

However the Skins, or any other team, don't have to draft the whole class. They just have to draft one guy, and they have to be right about that guy. For instance, if Washington drafts Daniel Jones and he's great, while Haskins, Murray and Drew Lock all turn out to be busts elsewhere, then who cares?

This is why teams do evaluations. The Redskins are taking great care with how they've evaluated this class. Kevin O'Connell was sent to Mobile to meet the top-eight QB's not named Haskins and Murray at The Senior Bowl so he had a feel for them before he dove into the tape, which he's been watching for the last month.

Ultimately they'll know exactly what they think of each potential high pick (and every other player) by mid-April. They'll put them on their board and then they'll enter the draft room a few weeks later.

If the best player available is a quarterback they like, Washington should take him. If it's not, it's very likely because the QBs they like are gone and they should look elsewhere. To enter the war room with any other strategy, aka with anything predetermined, would be insane.

This is ultimately the difference between how fans/media and actual teams think. It's easy for us to project and get ahead of ourselves, however these are professionals who take more time than any of us ever will to evaluate these players.

That doesn't always bulletproof things on draft day. Rogue executives can swoop in and make a non-scout approved pick (see Doctson, Josh), however the process that's currently in place is good. If they take a QB at 15, it's because they like him. If they're right, they save the franchise. If not, they'll all be looking for new jobs about the same time that quarterback they drafted is signing somewhere else to hold a clipboard.

And while there are plenty examples of first-round busts (and fired scouting departments), the math says taking that swing early is far and away the best way to find a starting quarterback in the NFL.


Craig Hoffman joined The Sports Junkies Thursday to breakdown the Redskisn quarterback situation.

Follow Redskins reporter Craig Hoffman on Twitter