Moments after the Redskins drafted Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell with the 25th overall pick on Saturday, head coach Joe Gibbs stepped to the podium and reiterated that Patrick Ramsey is the starting quarterback he is counting on to lead the team next season.
So why use such a high draft choice on a quarterback?
"I feel like, for us and the value of the organization long term, I don't think you ever go wrong with a quarterback," Gibbs said. "If you have somebody who you think is talented and can play for you, you look at that and say, 'What's the value of the pick?' We felt like certainly he was the guy we needed to get.
"I always look at it as quarterbacks are very valuable up here. The time invested in them, it takes a long time to get one ready to play for you. We just kind of felt like it was something value-wise that we had to do."
Campbell, at 6-3 and 223 pounds, led Auburn to a 13-0 record last season and was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. Gibbs said several times that Campbell's "value" at the 25th pick was too good to pass on and that the selection should not affect Ramsey.
Said Gibbs: "All Patrick wants to know is 'What's my opportunity. Give me the team, and I'm going to make the most of this.' That's exactly what we hope he does."
Campbell knows that Ramsey is the starter and seems ready to embrace his role as a rookie learning a professional offense.
"I'm just going to come in, just work, do the best I can and learn as much as possible," Campbell said by phone from Auburn. "I want to go out there everyday and just learn from Patrick and Mark Brunell."
Gibbs, who has coached three different quarterbacks to Super Bowl titles, believes that quarterbacks must thrive under pressure in order to be successful in the NFL. He says that Ramsey should be able to succeed regardless of the selection of Campbell.
"My impression of quarterbacks has been, if something like that is bothering them, then they're probably not the person mentally that's going to be able to handle that," Gibbs said.
Gibbs acknowledged that most NFL quarterbacks do not step in and lead their team to a championship right away. It takes time to develop, he said, and Ramsey is currently going through that process.
Gibbs compared Ramsey's situation to those of three quarterbacks he coached during his first tenure with the team. Joe Theismann and Mark Rypien each struggled before they led the Redskins to Super Bowl championships. Stan Humphries endured his share of difficulties before leading the San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl.
"There's a lot of tough things that get thrown a quarterback's way, so most of them struggle," Gibbs said. "My impression of quarterbacks is that they have to have a lot of mental toughness to them. They've got to be able to overcome things."
Gibbs admitted that the ideal situation includes Ramsey playing extremely well, becoming the undisputed starting quarterback and leading the team to a Super Bowl. Having a talented player such as Campbell behind Ramsey, Gibbs said, simply makes the team better.
Redskins coaches Gibbs, Don Breaux, Bill Musgrave and Jack Burns extensively reviewed film on Campbell and liked his size and mobility.
"He's not particularly a runner,' but he definitely gets out of the pocket and makes things happen," Gibbs said. "He's good on the move. He's very hard to get down because he's big. Lots of times he will shed guys that are coming after him."
Added Campbell: "My best skill is probably, when the pocket shuts down, being able to get outside the pocket and still make throws down the field or pick up some positive yards with my legs."
Campbell had four different offensive coordinators while with the Tigers, who were 37-13 in games in which he played. Because of his experience adjusting to new offensive schemes, Campbell anticipates a smooth transition to Gibbs' offense.
"I've got a lot of knowledge of the game from going through all those changes and being in those different offenses," Campbell said.
For now, however, the Redskins fate will be determined, in part, by Ramsey.
"I had talks with Patrick last week," Gibbs said. "Patrick is our starter. Patrick is the guy who we're counting on to take us to the playoffs and championships here."