According to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, four NFL teams are looking at former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez leading up to this Saturday's NFL Draft. The Seattle Seahawks at No. 4, the Cleveland Browns at No. 5, the Washington Redskins at No. 13 and the New York Jets at No. 17 are all interested, according to league sources.
Though I have reservations with regards to Sanchez because he only had one full season as a starter in college, let's operate for a moment under the assumption that Georgia's Matthew Stafford will go No. 1 overall to the Detroit Lions. That would leave Sanchez as the best quarterback still availiable -- and leave a lot of intrigue in the first round.
The Seahawks picking up Sanchez at No. 4 makes sense; veteran Matt Hasselback isn't getting any younger, and he was injured for a large part of last season. The Jets also make a fair bit of sense, considering Brett Favre's second retirement leaves the cupboard bare behind center. New head coach Rex Ryan can talk all he wants about his defense, but the Jets will need to score points to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC East.
Sources tell ESPN the Jets could jump over everyone to draft Sanchez, though another scenario has the Browns trading Brady Quinn to the Jets before drafting Sanchez themselves. I don't like this scenario, since Cleveland just traded back into the first round to draft Quinn two years ago. If Cleveland wants to trade away a quarterback, why not Derek Anderson?
The Jets reportedly love Quinn, though, so this scenario might happen.
But onto the Redskins. One rumor has Washington trading up to the No. 4 slot, where Seattle is now, and drafting Sanchez. The Redskins would then take Jason Campbell, their first-round pick from 2005, and trade him to either the Vikings, Buccaneers or Jets in order to recoup lost draft picks.
I know what you're thinking: Washington? Trading for draft picks?! No way!
According to Paolantonio, Campbell's second-half dropoff last season concerned some in the Redskins front office, apparently enough so that they would entertain trading him (remember the Jay Cutler fiasco?). Campbell is also coming into the final year of his contract, and in order to keep him, the Redskins would have to offer him franchise-quarterback money.
A scary prospect in this economy, especially if 2010 turns out to be an uncapped year.
Still, if we're going to trade Campbell based on his "second-half dropoff," then why aren't the Redskins trying to trade away the rest of the team, too? Washington lost six of its last eight games after a 6-2 start to miss the playoffs, and while Campbell deserves his share of the blame, it can't all be on him.
Let's say the Redskins draft Sanchez and trade away Campbell. Are the Redskins really that much better off? What about a pourous and injury-prone offensive line? Campbell was sacked 38 times last season, and I know Sanchez isn't as mobile as Campbell.
What about the defensive front's inability to form a decent pass rush? Okay, there's newly-signed Albert Haynesworth, but what if he just sits back and idles now that he has his big payday. Haynesworth doesn't address the team's need at defensive end, either.
Then there's the matter of offensive playmakers. Clinton Portis, Chris Cooley and Santan Moss did all they could last year, but the offensive line and those sack numbers hurt their production, too. Not to mention, those three second-round draft picks from a year ago not being on the field hurt. Are Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Fred Davis going to contribute this year?
I know owner Daniel Snyder likes to go for the splashy move, and Sanchez would satisfy that craving. But for the Redskins, flashy in March and April doesn't always equal wins in the fall, and Sanchez, by virtue of being a rookie quarterback, would be no different. I realize the likes of Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger were successful in their rookie seasons, but they are the exception, not the rule.
For all I know, Sanchez might be a damn good quarterback in the NFL; I'm just not ready to give up on Campbell yet. If I were making the pick this Saturday (oh, how I wish ...), I'd rather go with someone like Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers or offensive tackle Michael Oher. I'd even be willing to trade up to take Texas defensive stud Brian Orakpo or LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson.
Hell, at this point I'd even take Brian Cushing, the linebacker out of USC. I'd much rather see the Redskins fill a gaping need than chase around the stud quarterback of the draft. To me, the risk of getting a quarterback that high in the first round is too great; sure, you might get the next Peyton Manning, but there's also a good chance you might get the next Ryan Leaf too.
Why don't you ask the Chargers how that one worked?
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