ESPN’s Mel Kiper continues to link one player with the Redskins: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. And there’s one quarterback he said Mike Shanahan would have drafted last year at No. 4 that might not even go in the first round this year: Washington’s Jake Locker.

As usual, Kiper touched on a lot of subjects during an approximately 80-minute conference call today. But our main concern for now is quarterback, since the Redskins need one and because they pick high enough in the first round (10th) to land one.

And what Kiper said they can’t do is trade for another veteran, as they did with Donovan McNabb last season.

“Shanahan needs to address the position with a young QB,” Kiper said.

To which we say: Amen.

Anyway, here’s his thoughts on some of these players:

Kiper said he thinks Shanahan would have selected Locker last year, had he entered the draft.

“I know he had a high opinion of Locker last year,” Kiper said. “Now his stock has dropped and I don’t see him going that early. He hasn’t done much at Senior Bowl practices to wow me over. I have him [rated] 25 and hanging on there. If Shanahan wants to take a shot and still has a high opinion despite this subpar year – and I’m being kind when I say subpar – then maybe Locker could go there. I gave him Newton; that’s the kind of quarterback who can be molded and has all the upside you can want. It’s early for [Ryan] Mallett. If [Blaine] Gabbert is there, he would be interesting for the Redskins and he’s a guy they’d have to strongly consider.”

Kiper said the interview process will be crucial for Newton as some wonder about his character.

“Intangibles are a word you hear a lot about,” Kiper said. “That will define if Newton is  a top-10 pick or if he’ll slide to the late first round. People will look at the Florida situation, what went on with the recruiting controversy and if they feel he’s worthy of being the face of the organization and worthy of getting all that guaranteed money ... . If all that falls into place he’s certainly worthy of being a top-10 pick.”

Of the top four quarterbacks – Newton, Mallett, Gabbert and Locker – Kiper said the first two must prove they have the intangibles. He did not like Mallet’s mechanics, saying he had a “long stride in the pocket. It could be an issue.” He did not think Newton was “super precise” when it came to throwing in the sort of openings he’ll most likely see in the NFL.

“With Gabbert it’s the system,” Kiper said of the Missouri QB who ran a spread offense. “And when you look at Locker, if he can’t get it done vs. college defenses, can you do it in the NFL? ... He’s a great kid, a tough kid and a great athlete. But he’s difficult to project. It wouldn’t shock me if he went in the top 10; it wouldn’t shock me if he went in the second round.”

Kiper also said he does not expect any of the top four QBs to make an impact next season.

“I don’t see any of them having a real good year if they’re forced to play,” he said. “Everyone will have growing pains.”

As for a couple other quarterbacks, here’s Kiper’s analysis:

Christian Ponder: “Average arm, super smart. The only player from an FBS school who earned his MBA. Accuracy is good. I thought he was a poor man’s Chad Pennington going into the year. His stock has slipped a bit. I’d say third to fifth round for him.”

Andy Dalton: “He has adequate size. Tremendous intelligence, a real student of the game. He’s the consummate winner. He’s accurate on the move. I thought he showed necessary arm strength. It was more than adequate. He’s not in the first round mix; I think second or third round, a solid Day 2 guy.”

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