No? That didn’t happen? I can still enjoy being stuck on a broken roller coaster any time I want? Well then color me ecstatic. The way most of the media has reacted to the Redskins effort to acquire Robert Griffin III you’d think Dan Snyder has personally detonated an atomic bomb at the fifty on FedEx Field.
The Redskins have agreed to swap first round picks with the St. Louis Rams in 2012 and will also send them this years second round pick along with first rounders in 2013 and 2014. The Redskins needed to move up (from no. 6) to the Rams second overall spot, ahead of the Cleveland Browns (No. 4), to be able to select QB Robert Griffin III.
This is quite a bounty for the Rams and a very serious and risky investment for the Redskins. The initial shock of the deal made me uneasy and unsure of its benefits but my worries have subsided with a deeper consideration for its implications. Harvard Sports Analysis have processed the numbers and have spouted out a whole bunch of smart people words about this trade. Their analysis appraises what the Redskins gave up as the risky, yet historic treasure that it is. They say it about equals the collection of draft selections the Falcons gave up last year in order to draft Julio Jones but doesn’t come close to matching what the Saints gave up long ago to draft Ricky Williams. By their math, Robert Griffin would have to produce a career comparable to that of Tom Brady for the Redskins to achieve equal value in this deal.
Wow, Tom Brady. That’s pretty lofty. That’s pretty scary.
Really? Meh, not really, at least not to me. The problem that I have with this analysis is two-fold: it treats player acquisition as a draft only vacuum and has no context of the teams involved. The draft isn’t the only avenue teams use to acquire players. This is especially true for the Redskins, who rightly or wrongly (hint: wrongly), have consistently been spenders during the summer. They were poised to have a great deal of cap space to work with to fill they voids they couldn’t using the draft, with around 40 million in cap space. Recent action by the NFL has diminished that number but they should still have room to make moves. This could possibly help protect the Redskins from themselves in the weird twisted scheme of things. Secondly, let’s assess what it means to be a first round pick to the Redskins. Over the last ten seasons the Skins have had ten first round picks. In order: Patrick Ramsey, Sean Taylor, Carlos Rogers, Jason Campbell, LaRon Landry, Brian Orakpo, Trent Williams, and Ryan Kerrigan. The truth is most of these players were good to very good but also most are no longer with the team (RIP Sean Taylor). If they’re not with the team then they mean nothing to the team. This includes two QBs, Ramsey and Campbell. They were not successful for different reasons but collectively the team traded three first round picks, a third, and a fourth for them. So they’ve done this dance before and came up empty but what I want to show is that draft picks aren’t automatic, especially with the Redskins.
Up to this point I don’t know if I have actually helped my argument. I’ve shown that the Redskins have done this before almost exactly and have failed because they don’t use the draft well and that they need to draft a Tom Brady for taking the risk they did. But I want to emphasize one thing: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Or in this case, a bird in the hand is worth three in the bush and an egg, especially at Six Flags.
Of course, we need to assess how much our bird is worth. In the case of Robert Griffin I believe he will be very special indeed. I think his ceiling is 2010 Michael Vick with the Eagles good but at a much younger age and for a longer period of time good.
Other smart people using big words (Football Outsiders) agree with me. According to their analysis, Robert Griffin rates as the best high round quarterback of all time. Guys like Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning. The metric seems to have missed on Colt McCoy and Brady Quinn as well, so it’s not perfect. Other sources like CourtsideAnalyst also back up that statistically Robert Griffin was a monster last year. That being said, Robert Griffins college production was off the charts. What I like most about him is his accuracy. I believe accuracy is the most important component of a successful QB and Griffin displays incredible talent in that area.
The Redskins gave up a lot and need a lot back to justify that move but I think it will be worth it in the end. I feel very comfortable taking this risk with Robert Griffin III. His statistical numbers are outstanding as are his “intangibles.” As long as he is on the field I believe he will be great. The Redskins as an organization now have to build a team around him to bring this all together. That’s the part I’m worried about.