For those Redskins fans that watched Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl, you may have gotten a glimpse at your franchise's next quarterback.
After a rollercoaster 6-10 season which included more downs than ups, Washington currently sits with the No. 10 overall pick in April's draft. Why talk about this during the first week of January? Because before long it'll be combine time and soon teams are preparing for another go-round at Radio City Music Hall.
To say the Redskins need a lot of help would be like claiming Randy Moss doesn't care for catered meals. It's an understatement. But the most looming need has to be at the quarterback position. Donovan McNabb, who was supposed to restore this once-proud franchise back to its winning ways, was a disappointment when he was on the field and an embarrassment off of it. He was removed in favor of Rex Grossman in a loss to Detroit, soaked up plenty of media attention with coach Mike Shanahan and did little to solidify his status as one of the game's top arms.
Beyond McNabb, Grossman is certainly not the answer. If he is, I don't want to know the question. So what do the Redskins do? First, let's take a look at this year's crop of quarterbacks.
The most shocking news came earlier today, when consensus No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck announced he will return to Stanford to finish his education. Luck was slated to be taken first overall to Carolina, but now the 2-14 Panthers will have to look elsewhere. The question for them remains, do they take a quarterback or address another pressing need?
If the Panthers take a quarterback, the next highest-rated arm is Missouri's Blaine Gabbert. I haven't seen much of him this past season, but scouts are reporting off-the-chart intangibles. After him, there's the trio of Jake Locker from Washington, Heisman winner Cam Newton and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett.
It's impossible to say who will go where four months from now, but there's a good chance Mallett will be available to snag with the first-round pick at No. 10. Newton will probably be gone, used as either an actual quarterback or simply a money-maker for a franchise, and Locker's stock is a little too shaky at this point, at least for me. That leaves Mallett, who at 6-foot-6, is a big, durable force at the position and could be the type of quarterback Washington fans have been looking for. Remember that in recent memory, players like McNabb and Jason Campbell were known more for being quick and agile rather than being able to stand in the pocket and take a hit. Mallett appears to be that guy, which could provide a nice change of pace in our nation's capital.
This is certainly a way-too-early look at the 2011 draft, but it's never too early to start contemplating. We'll be sure to do mock drafts as the time gets closer.