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Redskins, rest of NFL putting up plenty of smokescreens in Arizona

Mar 25, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT


It’s getting very smoky in Phoenix this week as NFL teams try to send out sometimes-conflicting signals about their intentions in the draft, which starts five weeks from tomorrow.

Among the teams throwing out the most smokescreens is Washington. A few weeks ago we had John Clayton of ESPN reporting that the Redskins would draft the Heisman Trophy winner out of Oregon if he is there at No. 5. Then yesterday Tarik El-Bashir talked to Scot McCloughan, who did nothing to knock down Clayton’s report.

“It’s a definite consideration, no doubt about it,” McCloughan said when asked if the Redskins would draft Mariota. “It’s the most important position on the field.”

McCloughan’s statement has to be viewed in the context of what else we know about him, the draft, and the Redskins’ quarterback situation.

As far as the latter topic, we have Jay Gruden’s less than ringing endorsement of Robert Griffin III as the team’s quarterback.

“He’s got the starting job right now,” Gruden said on Monday. “Hopefully he takes it and runs with it.”

Gruden’s qualifiers like “right now” and “hopefully” along with the bumpy ride the coach and quarterback had in 2014 don’t exactly convey a lot of confidence in Griffin as the long-term solution at quarterback.

But Mariota might not be the answer either. The Oregon offense is similar to the one Griffin ran at Baylor. Gruden and McCloughan may not be interested in going through the same growing pains with uncertain results.

The popular consensus is that the Redskins are circulating the Mariota talk in order to drum up some trade interest in that No. 5 pick. McCloughan left the door wide open for that possibility as well.

“If it’s a win for us, and it’s going to make us stronger, no doubt about it,” McCloughan told El-Bashir yesterday. “I’ll take any phone calls.”

McCloughan may want to trade the pick but he could have to try to find a market for it if Mariota is off of the board. Ken Whisenhunt is the head coach of the Titans, who hold the second overall pick and he gave a very strong indication that he is interested in Mariota.

“If he comes to us at No. 2, he’s definitely going to be the day 1 starter,” he said. “I’m very impressed by Marcus.”

Of course, Whisenhunt’s endorsement may be a smokescreen, a signal that a team that wants to move up to draft Mariota will need to place a call to Nashville, not Ashburn.

It’s lying season in the NFL and it is best to take whatever any NFL coach or general manager says over the next five weeks with a healthy amount of skepticism. We won’t really know what a team’s intentions with its pick are until Roger Goodell steps to the microphone on April 30.

  1. warpath1 - Mar 25, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    I believe the redskins starting quarterback for the 2016 season will be drafted this year, but i doubt it will be Marcus Mariotta

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 25, 2015 at 10:52 AM

    The popular consensus is that the Redskins are circulating the Mariota talk in order to drum up some trade interest in that No. 5 pick.

    Or else to make sure that a team wanting Mariota trades up ahead of the fifth pick, ensuring we get to draft someone we want.

  3. troylok - Mar 25, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    So, if we won’t know for sure until the draft, then we shouldn’t visit this site for the next five weeks, right? Nah. It’s way too much fun to speculate on even the smallest crumb of news.

    Rich, what does history show us about McGloughan’s poker game? Did he create any smokescreens when with San Fran? Who was the best player he ever scouted – not drafted, but scouted – and where are they now?

    • ET - Mar 25, 2015 at 12:44 PM

      So far, it seems like Scotty has a pretty good poker face. We have some general ideas about players the team might target in the draft, but we really have no idea what their Big Board looks like. I’m enjoying the secrecy and (possible) misdirection.

      With McC’s history, it’ll also be interesting to see what happens in the draft’s later rounds and with UDFAs. I hope to see some good value signings from the margins.

  4. bowlregard - Mar 25, 2015 at 1:49 PM

    This analysis is consistent with my understanding. I figure there probably won’t be an opportunity to trade down, but one has to keep options open.

  5. brucefan1 - Mar 25, 2015 at 4:39 PM

    I’m not the least bit surprised that Gruden didn’t use a word any stronger than “hopefully” when talking about Griffin’s chances to have the starting job on opening day.

    I think most observers understand RG3 hasn’t shown enough recently to warrant any term more definitive than “hopefully”. Because no one can know how he will do.. NO ONE!

    Speculate…theorize…HOPE (as Gruden is saying), maybe? That’s about it. No?

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 25, 2015 at 5:07 PM

      It’s up to Griffin.

      Acknowledge your problems, do the work, if you’re successful, you’re the QB you always thought you would be.

  6. skinsgame - Mar 26, 2015 at 1:08 AM

    In looking at Scots past drafts, they aren’t spectacular. There are hits and misses as is the case with all teams. What I like about him is his experiences. He has been involved in 2 successful turnarounds in the NFL and his exposure and experience is the Redskins gain. This is not his 1st rodeo. Archives

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