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Washington Redskins Overpay For Baylor QB Robert Griffin III

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has never been one to shop the sales when he could buy the same product at a huge price somewhere else. With his free-spending track record established and the ‘Skins need at quarterback a genuinely legitimate one, it was not a question of if, but for whom and how much, Snyder would break the bank for. We got our answer yesterday when the Redskins sent the St. Louis Rams three first-round picks and a second-round pick for the right to move up four slots to #2 in the 2012 NFL Draft and get the right to select Baylor’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III. There is no truth to the rumor that as part of the package, the nation’s capital will also be moved to St. Louis, although we’re still looking into whether Snyder offered it (or St. Louis just rejected it).

Let me make a full disclosure statement out front—I like the Redskins. Check that—I love the Redskins, going back to the days when I was a kid in the late 1970s and every Halloween dressed up in my burgundy-and-gold helmet and Chris Hanburger jersey. There’s nothing else in my life that I was doing in the late 1970 that I’m still doing today—hence, being a Redskins fan is the longest-running drama of my life. So my critical statements are that of a frustrated fan, not a Skins-hater, or even that of a neutral observer.

I also really like Robert Griffin III. I was pushing him for the Heisman when all the Watch Lists were still hung up on Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson. I am genuinely excited about seeing him suit up in burgundy and gold and want him to succeed for his own sake, not just that of my favorite team. But that’s evaluating Griffin in a vacuum, apart from the price paid to get him. And that price was exorbitant.

Washington was originally slated to pick 6th this year. Options at that spot ranged from Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon to LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, to Alabama defensive end Melvin Ingram. That’s a pretty good list of players to pick from that the Redskins gave up. And that’s just the beginning.

They’ve also given up their first-round selection in 2013 and 2014. To try and give a rough example of what they gave up, let’s say the team improves to around 7-9 and ends up picking 12th next year. Players available at that spot this year include Alabama safety Mark Barron, Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brocker or Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Let’s say the improvement continues and the ‘Skins make the playoffs in 2013 and pick 22nd the following spring. The talent available at this spot this year includes Dre’ Kirkpatrick, a top corner from Alabama, Andre Branch a solid pass-rushing end from Clemson and Cordy Glenn a tough guard from Georgia.

So to put names to the picks, let’s say the Redskins have given up the equivalent of Blackmon, Brocker and Kirkpatrick, plus this year’s second-round pick, in exchange for RG3. Does this still sound like a good deal to you? It’s sound less so to me, and keep in mind I used a very optimistic model which showed steady improvement from the Redskins with Griffin at quarterback. In fact, the players we de facto gave up could end up a lot better.

The one positive of all this? Except for the 1980s when Bobby Beathard was the general manager in Washington, the ‘Skins have done a poor job in drafting. So maybe from our standpoint, giving up picks means next to nothing. Of course on the flip side, what does that say about our evaluation of RG3? I’m hoping for the best, but 19 years with one division title, two playoff wins and zero NFC Championship Game appearances have me a little skeptical. Those memories of the ’91 Redskins better have a long shelf life.