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Should Redskins Pay the Price for RGIII?

Whether Washington should trade up for Robert Griffin, III depends on what the team can get done in free agency. Patrick Green/ Icon SMI

The low-grade rumblings about the possibility of Washington trading up in the draft for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, III became a full-fledged earthquake the moment RGIII ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the Indy scouting combine. It's the best time for a QB since Michael Vick ran sub-4.4. And Griffin throws better than Vick too.

For me, RGIII's time changes nothing. I'd love to have him as Washington's quarterback for the next decade -- I think he's going to be terrific. The problem, however is that the acquisition cost is likely to be ginormous. Whoever wants RGIII will need to trade into the 2nd spot in the draft, which is currently occupied by the Rams. Logically, St. Louis wants this to be their version of the Hershel Walker trade.

The rumors ricocheting through the media suggest Washington could trade for RGIII for the low-low price of the 6th pick, second and third round picks in this year's draft, plus a first round pick next year. Most of the discussion about the acquisition cost has remained in the abstract. Folks have been talking about picks, but not connecting it to the reality that those picks are actually players.

So, in an effort to better understand what the actual cost of trading for Griffin would be, I've taken a look at draft history since 2002 to see the quality of player that typically goes in those spots.

If the rumored price is accurate, Washington would be giving up the following picks:

  • 6th overall in 2012
  • 38th overall in 2012
  • 70th overall in 2012
  • 20th overall in 2013
Note: I've guesstimated Washington's 1st round pick next year at 20th, assuming that Griffin plus free agent signings, additional draft picks, etc., etc. will push Washington to approximately 9-7 or 10-6.
To be fair, I've looked at the actual pick spot, plus the two picks immediately following. In other words, when I'm looking at the 6th overall pick, I'm assuming that the team making the selection could have reasonably taken the player who went 7th or 8th. I know that technically the team could have taken anyone who came after that spot, but I'm really interested in who actually went in that vicinity.
Below are some of the players chosen in the vicinity of Washington's picks:
Sixth Pick
  • Julio Jones
  • Russell Okung
  • Andre Smith
  • Vernon Gholston
  • LaRon Landry
  • Vernon Davis
  • Pacman Jones
  • Kellen Winslow, Jr.
  • Johnathan Sullivan
  • Ryan Sims
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey
  • Adrian Peterson
  • Michael Huff
  • Byron Leftwich
  • Bryant McKinnie
  • Jake Locker
  • Antrel Rolle
  • DeAngelo Hall
  • Jordan Gross
  • Roy Williams
20th Pick
  • Kareem Jackson
  • Brandon Pettigrew
  • Aaron Ross
  • Tamba Hali
  • Marcus Spears
  • Javon Walker
  • Jermaine Gresham
  • Laurence Maroney
  • Vince Wilfork
  • Jeff Faine
  • Percy Harvin
  • Felix Jones
  • Brady Quinn
  • Mark Clayton
  • Rex Grossman
38th Pick
  • Zach Miller
  • Justin Blalock
  • Winston Justice
  • Rashean Mathis
  • Toniu Fonoti
  • John Beck
  • EJ Henderson
  • Mike Pearson
70th Pick
  • Ed Dickson
  • Ashton Youboty
  • Channing Crowder
  • Joey Thomas
  • Demarco Murray
  • Nate Burleson
  • Alex Carrington
  • Leonard Pope
If Washington pulls the trigger on this deal, and St. Louis drafts well, the Skins could end up trading a package of the next Laron Landry, Vince Wilfork, EJ Henderson and Demarco Murray for RGIII. And lots of other variations. The point is that those picks translate to players, and those players could be quite valuable.
Which, of course, begs the question: Is RGIII worth it? Is he worth an All-Pro or two, as well as a couple starters/major contributors?
The short answer is YES. He's worth that kind of package, because QB is the most important player in the game, and RGIII has given every indication that he's going to be a great one. I think he could end up being the best QB in this draft -- including Andrew Luck.
But, making the deal may not be the best move for Washington because of the range and depth of their personnel needs. The Skins desperately need a QB. But they also need 2-3 starters on the offensive line, 1-2 starting caliber corners, a starting safety, 1-2 starters at wide receiver, and possibly an inside linebacker. That's something on the order of 9 new players they have to get if they want to make the leap -- BEFORE getting to the reality that they're probably going to need 2 quarterbacks.
Right now it's difficult to say with certainty whether paying this kind of price tag for RGIII makes sense. A lot will depend on what Washington does in free agency. If they can go into the draft having signed a true #1 wide receiver (like Dwayne Bowe), a couple new starters on the offensive line, a quality cornerback and their new safety -- then I'd be happy with splurging on RGIII.
But, if they enter the draft still needing to find players at these key need positions, a trade up would be inadvisable. The better move would be sit tight and pick the best player available at #6, or trade down, get extra picks and build the team's talent base.