A detail view as a Washington Redskins football player touches his helmet prior to an NFL preseason football game against the New England Patriots at FedEx Field on Thursday August 7, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. Washington won 23-6. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher)
The 2015 NFL Draft kicks off later this month as the NFL offseason rages on. The annual hoopla surrounding the draft is always appropriate considering the draft remains the foundation upon which teams improve themselves from year to year. Ask the Washington NFL Team how the NFL draft has improved the franchise over the last few seasons and the answer may fall incomplete. The Washington NFL Team has had picks over the last two seasons but none has fallen in the top 30 after the team surrendered consecutive first-rounders in the 2012 blockbuster trade to move up and draft Robert Griffin III. Ironically, with Washington having this year’s fifth pick in the draft, rumors are building that the club could be looking at drafting another quarterback after the failures of Griffin over the past couple of seasons have thrown the team completely out of whack. The draft’s two top signal callers this year, Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, are expected to go within the top five selections but nothing is set in stone. If one happens to be available when Washington’s selection comes up could the Washington NFL team draft their next signal caller? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Riley: The holes in Washington are plentiful. And, while the quarterback play has been uneven, drafting another one without patching up some of the other potholes on the team just doesn’t make any sense. There’s actually a number of directions Washington could go with their pick. From wide receiver to pass rusher to even adding another offensive lineman, I just can’t see the Washington NFL team burning a pick on another young signal caller. Mariota’s playing style is already similar to Griffin’s, and Winston’s moxie and showmanship are already RGIII traits. Fixing the Washington defense should be priority No. 1 for the front office this offseason. Obviously, Griffin hasn’t progressed as expected but strengthening the team around RGIII would go a long way in getting Washington back to respectability.
Green: Yes, Griffin has a lot of similar attributes to the two top quarterbacks coming out this season. However, the difference with Mariota and Winston is their ability to be available, something the injury-prone Griffin has struggled with since his days at Baylor. You’re never going to win in the NFL with an accuracy-challenged quarterback who can’t stay on the field. Two years of Griffin should be enough for the Washington NFL team to decide that the show must end at some point over the next few seasons. Winston is tailor-made to be an NFL leader, and Mariota might be one of the most athletic quarterbacks to come out in a while, probably since Griffin and Andrew Luck in 2012. I firmly believe Griffin’s days are numbered in Washington and drafting his replacement to groom makes sense, especially with the Washington NFL team’s position in the draft. If Griffin was the answer then the team wouldn’t be looking at a 7-25 record over the last two seasons.
Riley: Blaming Washington’s problems sorely on RGIII for the last two seasons minimizes how poor a job everyone associated with this franchise has done. The quarterbacks, players, coaches and front office have all shared an important role in dragging this team to the bottom of the scrap heap. Building the foundation around Griffin has to be the mindset going into the draft. The last two seasons have been highlighted by Griffin’s inability to stay healthy, putting the onus on players like Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins to pilot the team. The last two campaigns have also highlighted the lack of talent that the Washington NFL team has trotted out on the field, oftentimes being embarrassed on defense and held in check while on offense. There are several standout quarterbacks in the NFL playing on outstanding teams, and several of those teams could easily hold their own if their signal caller was shelved with an injury. Even with Griffin on the field, it’s been easy to see how outmanned the team was when playing against some of the stronger teams across the league. Even in Griffin’s breakout season in 2012, Washington’s defense finished 28th in the NFL and they haven’t ranked higher than 18th over the last two seasons. Washington could draft a quarterback and make media madness but they would still be in dire need of reconstructing the other parts on their team.
Green: I hate to use your own point against you, Riley, but you make a good one. Considering the Washington NFL team’s defense back in Griffin’s inaugural year was one of the worst in the league and the team still made the playoffs and won their division speaks to how unimportant the rest of their team may have been. Sometimes, good quarterback play can mask a team’s deficiencies, and RGIII covered up a lot back in 2012. As your statistics show, the defense has been even better the last two campaigns but the team’s record has fallen off a cliff and Griffin’s absence and poor play has been at the forefront of the reasoning. Adding more talent through the draft would do any team some good, but Washington has to use their top selection wisely and reinvest into a position that has failed them for two straight seasons. I’m more inclined toward Winston than Mariota, who has had his own injury-prone tendencies in college. Winston is the real deal and would turn Washington into an instant winner. If he’s available, they better take him.