Kyler Murray provided a boost for the Washington Redskins — even if he never plays for them. When Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy winner decided to declare for the NFL draft, he provided something the Redskins need: another option in their quest to, once again, find a quarterback.
With Alex Smith’s future uncertain, the Redskins will be looking for another quarterback. Because of their cap situation — they only have around $20 million right now to spend — the draft might offer their best option. Murray heading there provides one more choice; he may be available at No. 15, or he may bump another quarterback back to that spot.
Thanks to Murray, there’s now a chance that four quarterbacks could be selected in the first round: Murray, Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), Daniel Jones (Duke) and Drew Lock (Missouri). It’s not guaranteed that all will go in the first round — Murray’s size, at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, will be a factor for some teams. Maybe Will Grier (West Virginia) will sneak in there. Regardless, Murray’s presence in the draft can help Washington, depending on how many teams desire a quarterback.
Just look at the 14 teams ahead of Washington in the draft: Not many need a quarterback.
Jacksonville, at No. 7, is the only team drafting in the top 10 with a glaring need at the position. Two others in there could (should) opt for a new one as well: the New York Giants (No. 6) and Denver Broncos (No. 10). But the Giants, because of Eli Manning, don’t have to draft one if they’re not sold (though that would mark two years in a row that they chose not to pick his successor). The Broncos have Case Keenum, but he’s only under contract for another season, and he didn’t make a convincing case this past season that he’s their guy for the future. Picking a quarterback makes sense, but Denver doesn’t have to be desperate. Even the Jaguars could opt for a veteran, via trade or free agency.
Other teams that have quarterback questions and are picking ahead of Washington include Miami and Cincinnati. Will Miami move on from Ryan Tannehill? He has a $26.6 million cap hit this season, but his contract would yield $13.5 million in dead money if he were released. Would Cincinnati ditch Andy Dalton? The Bengals will have a new coach, but Dalton also has a friendly contract. His largest cap hit is $17.7 million in 2020; that being said, Cincinnati wouldn’t have to pay a dime if it cut him this offseason. Still, he’s a solid quarterback on a team-friendly deal.
The Redskins clearly will examine all the top quarterbacks in the draft, and if they don’t love any of them, then they can always select a player at a different position in the first round. The draft is considered strong for defenders, especially edge pass-rushers. Perhaps one of these quarterbacks will fall to Washington in the second round.
When: April 25-27
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
How to watch: ABC/ESPN/ESPN App
• Draft order: Picks 1-28 set »
• Tracking underclassmen declarations »
• McShay’s Mock Draft 1.0: Going 1-32 »
• Meet the 2019 quarterback class »
• Kiper & McShay: 2019 draft primer »
• Kiper’s Big Board » | McShay’s Top 32 »
• More NFL draft coverage »
With Murray, teams will have to decide if his height and weight make him too much of a risk. Baker Mayfield, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson — the smallest starting quarterbacks in the NFL — are a good bit bigger.
How devoted will Murray be to football, considering his baseball talent? Only Murray knows that answer. The choice to enter the NFL draft does not preclude Murray from choosing to play baseball for the Oakland Athletics, sources told ESPN. The A’s selected Murray with the ninth pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.
Some NFL teams will like him; others just won’t. If the Redskins like him and he’s around at 15, Murray would be intriguing. He certainly would generate buzz; with fan unrest at an all-time high, the Redskins need every ounce of positive vibes they can muster.
But given his size, there will be plenty of fingers crossed — and the Redskins must pick based solely on whether or not he can play. This organization needs to win, not peddle any more false hope.
Some of this also depends on how the Redskins view Smith’s future. But even if they think Smith could return at some point in 2019 or the following season, does that mean he’d be the same player? They’re better off planning for life after Smith, who turns 35 in May, and being pleasantly surprised if he returns as the same player at some point.
Keep in mind that some of the QB-needy teams will likely have resolved their situations before the draft via trades or free agency. Among the players who should be available: Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater.
Pundits haven’t considered this a top-end quarterback draft, but with Murray, it just got a little bit deeper. That’s good news for the Redskins.