Washington Football Team: The case against drafting a first-round QB

Washington Football Team QB Robert Griffin III. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Washington Football Team QB Robert Griffin III. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Over the past 30 years, the Washington Football Team has drafted five first-round quarterbacks with limited success. They should avoid making that mistake again in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Washington hasn’t had the best success with quarterbacks throughout its team history, having drafted Heath Shuler (1994), Patrick Ramsey (2002), Jason Campbell (2005), Robert Griffin III (2012), and Dwayne Haskins (2019) in the first round over the past 30 years.

During that same period, Washington has had over 30 different quarterbacks start a game for the franchise, which doesn’t speak very highly of the potential franchise quarterbacks the team has drafted over the past three decades.

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I wanted to list out the names of all the quarterbacks that have lined up behind center over the last thirty years, but not only would that have been a waste of space, but it would have brought up recurring nightmares for a fanbase that has been plagued by ineptitude at the quarterback position for years.

As  ifit wasn’t bad enough having John Beck, Rex Grossman, and Mark Sanchez behind center, rumors suggest Washington might be open to betting the farm to trade up for another potential franchise savior.

Last week on his podcast, NFL Analyst Michael Lombardi said that he thinks Washington “loves” North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance and mentioned that they might be the next team to make a major draft day-related trade.

"I think Washington is going to be the next team to unload all their picks to try to get a QB. I think they love [Trey] Lance. I don’t think, I know Washington loves Lance. So, will they trade up to get Lance? That remains to be seen."

Hasn’t Washington learned its lesson from its previous first-round quarterback selections, or better yet its previous trade-ups for first-round quarterbacks?

Why the Washington Football Team shouldn’t trade up for a QB

In 2005, after selecting cornerback Carlos Rogers with the ninth pick, Washington traded back into the first round, giving up their first-round pick and fourth-round pick in 2006 along with the 76th pick of the 2005 draft in exchange for the Denver Broncos’ 25th pick.

With that selection, Washington took Jason Campbell… one pick after Green Bay selected Aaron Rodgers.

What was not to love? Campbell had the prototypical size of a franchise QB, standing at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, and had led Auburn to an undefeated season in 2004 while winning SEC Player of the Year.

After sitting behind Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey during his rookie year, Campbell ended up starting seven games in 2006. He did show poise but never developed into the franchise quarterback that Washington needed.

Could it have been due to the fact that he had to learn seven different offenses since his freshman year of college? Potentially, but suffice to say, he didn’t provide the answers fans were looking for, ending his Washington career with a 20-32 record.

Washington again traded up in 2012, giving up the sixth overall pick, their first-round selection in 2013, their first-round selection in 2014, and a second-round selection in 2012 to move to second overall. With that pick, Washington selected Robert Griffin III.

If there was one word to describe Griffin’s first season, it would be electric. Griffin set the league on fire but just as quick as his career took off, it plummeted hard.

Griffin finished his rookie year with a 4:1 TD to INT ratio and a 102.4 passer rating, the highest at the time for a rookie QB, and it looked like Washington had solved its QB dilemma once and for all. But it was all for naught as Griffin would tear his ACL, MCL, and meniscus in the playoff loss to Seattle.

After the injury, Griffin was never the same player and went 5-15 in his next two seasons with the team. Imagine all the holes Washington could have filed keeping the picks that it sent to the Rams to move up.

The saddest part of Washington’s quarterback conundrum over the past 30 years isn’t even the blown first-round picks. It’s the fact that those potential first-round saviors lost their jobs to lowly draft picks or veterans the team brought in.

In 1994, after selecting Schuler third overall, Washington also took Gus Frerotte in the seventh round. Shuler went 4-9 in his Washington career and was benched by his third season for Frerotte.

Ramsey went 10-14 as a starter and eventually lost his job to Mark Brunell. Campbell was traded after Washington traded for Donovan McNabb. Kirk Cousins was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 draft and went on to have a much more productive Washington career than Griffin, finishing fourth in franchise history in passing yards.

Haskins was outplayed by veteran Alex Smith and two undrafted players in Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke.

For the 2021 season, Washington has already brought in a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick to go along with Allen and Heinicke. Is the team one player away from contending in a Super Bowl? Not really.

So in that case, it seems like it would be a mistake to bet the farm on a quarterback who may or may not work out, while giving up draft capital that could shore up positions of need, including tackle, linebacker, safety, and tight end.

Next. What would a trade up look like for Washington?. dark

Yes, Washington inevitably will still need to find its quarterback of the future, but as the past shows, doing so in the first round is a risk the team can’t afford to take.