Redskins First Round Primer: The Good, the Meh, and the Ugly

The NFL Draft, mercifully, is here. It’s a huge one for the Redskins who find themselves at a franchise crossroads. We’re not quite good enough to dream of a Super Bowl, but we’re also not shitty enough to justify tanking. Thanks to our old friend mediocrity, we pick smack dab in the middle of the first round at selection No. 15.

That said, the position could be worse. Elite players do fall in the first round. Look at the Redskins’ selection of local pride and joy Jonathan Allen at No. 17 two years ago. Nailing that first round pick this year, more than perhaps others is key.

We have plenty of needs. Obviously, Quarterback has been the focus of media and fan attention. Alex Smith’s injury and contract have us stranded in signal calling purgatory, but that could change this weekend.

But drafting a QB is definitely not the only, and perhaps not the wisest, option for the franchise at this time. There are a ton of areas that could be improved to maximize/create a championship window going forward. I know, that’s a wild thought for Redskins fans, but this draft could actually put us on the teambuilding trajectory of a modern, competitive NFL team.

The defense is definitely the strongest aspect of the team, but we lost three key starters this offseason. Preston Smith, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, and Zach Brown are all gone. That means we have needs at EDGE, Free Safety, and Middle Linebacker. On offense, we have holes at Left Guard, Wide Receiver, and arguably Tight End as well. Are any of those positions as sexy as Quarterback? Hail no. But, if the Redskins are smart (please God), they’ll maximize what this draft offers and continue to build a solid young core.

That starts with getting as much value out of our first round pick as possible. Luckily, this can be done in more ways than one. To prep you, here is a primer on what the Redskins could do with that pick. Spoiler alert, pretty much everything is on the table. Potential picks/scenarios are separated into the good, the meh, and the ugly.

The Good

Selecting T.J. Hockenson at No. 15

Choosing a tight end in the first round might come as a surprise, but Hockenson represents star upside. He’s about as complete of a Tight End prospect as it gets. In addition to impressive athleticism, he can catch AND block well. The former Iowa Hawkeye is widely regarded as the top Tight End in the draft, and one of the best to come out of college in years. He’d instantly elevate a weak passing game and would give Case Keenum an excellent weapon to put alongside the dynamic, but frail Jordan Reed.

It’d also give the team the flexibility to trade Reed or Vernon Davis for more draft capital/cap space if they felt so inclined. There’s a strong chance Hockenson doesn’t make it to the Redskins’ pick, but if he does, they should snag him or trade the pick to a team that wants him for a nice ransom.

Selecting an “elite” EDGE rusher at No. 15

Someone has to line up opposite Ryan Kerrigan next year. This draft appears very top heavy in terms of EDGE rushing talent. Nick Bosa and Josh Allen will probably go in the first five picks, so those dreams never even got off the ground. In order to replace Preston Smith, the Redskins could select whichever other ‘elite’ pass rusher (Montez Sweat, Brian Burns, or Clelin Ferrell) is left at No. 15 and feel satisfied with the pick.

All three offer something a little different, but the point is it’d fortify the pass rush and give opposing quarterbacks nightmare fuel. It’d fill a need and infuse the roster with more controllable defensive talent that the team is building its identity around.

Selecting Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, or Kyler Murray at No. 15

Look, no shit we need a quarterback. It’s just not prudent to sell our soul to get one. If either Haskins or Murray somehow last to 15, we should sprint up to the podium. Lock I’m less sold on, but he very well could be a legitimate answer at quarterback.

Regardless, this scenario gets us our franchise savior at no extra cost. All three guys instantly make our offense 100x more watchable even with the inevitable rookie growing pains. Predicting quarterback prospects is difficult, but these guys, especially if they slide, seem like they are worth a shot. Like the EDGE rushers, they all bring different things to the table, but all three also bring youthful hope. Knowing the Redskins and their owner, this is probably the scenario Redskins Park is hoping for. You’d have to think Haskins, a DMV kid who went to Bullis, is especially wanted by a team that needs to win back fan trust/interest.

Drafting a quarterback is a massive risk, but if they don’t waste extra draft capital to do it, that should be considered a victory and a clear indication of how the franchise evisions itself going forward. That’s something we haven’t had since RGIII got hurt.

Of course, Josh Rosen is also theoretically in play. If a move for him comes, it will have to come soon you’d think. The Cardinals have little leverage with what they can command for Rosen, unless they insist that their plan is keeping both him and Murray. If that were the plan, you’d think Rosen would have already been moved by now. Buying low on Rosen would be a great move, but it seems increasingly unlikely that Arizona will move on from him.

Trading back

The most likely scenario facing our franchise is that, when we’re on the clock, no one left on our big board matches the value of our pick. If we don’t trade up, Hockenson, the quarterbacks, and perhaps even the EDGE rushers all could be gone.

Instead, we should trade back. A trade would probably involve swapping first rounders and then us adding an extra second or third round pick. That’d likely give us five picks in the top 100 and a decent chance to add five legitimate contributors to the roster. It’d also be easier to justify taking a Wide Receiver or Left Guard later on in the first round. Unless there’s a slam dunk at No. 15, the Redskins should trade back and properly bolster the roster for years to come.

The Meh

Trading up a little bit to take Haskins, Murray, or Drew Lock/taking Lock at No. 15

If we’re dead set on getting a quarterback, at least pay the market rate. There are a couple of Quarterback needy teams that draft in front of us, namely the Giants, Dolphins, Broncos, and Bengals. The chances that a Quarterback falls to us is, admittedly, not great. If they’re able to move up slightly, perhaps with the Lions at No. 8, for only the cost of an extra couple of mid-round picks, it’s fine. For the above reasons, I believe it’s not wise, but it wouldn’t necessarily cripple the franchise. They may feel the fan ire and decide to do it to make the team relevant again, but we’ll see. They’ve definitely proven their willingness to do it in the past.

Selecting a Cornerback at No. 15

I get the rationale here. Josh Norman is still a very good corner, but Quinton Dunbar unfortunately is injury prone. We have Fabian Moreau and Greg Stroman as well, but they’re likely better suited to the slot. Taking LSU’s Greedy Williams, Washington’s Byron Murphy, or Georgia’s Deandre Baker could add elite potential to our secondary. In the modern NFL, that’s an area that’s pretty damn important. Maybe it’d even allow Dunbar or another Defensive Back to move to safety.

Still, it’s not our biggest need at the moment, so while all three of these players would be welcome additions, pursuing a trade back makes more sense if the best available option is a Corner. Taking one so early might be considered a reach.  

Selecting an Offensive Lineman at No. 15

Applying similar logic here, taking an Offensive Lineman at No. 15 doesn’t maximize the value of the pick. Adding someone like Jonah Williams of Alabama, Andre Dillard of Washington State, or Chris Lindstrom of Boston College would probably give us a starter for the next decade. That said, there are a lot of big nasties likely to be available later in the draft who might bring a similar thing to the table at a lesser cost. While this wouldn’t be a waste of the pick, it’d certainly be a reach.

The Ugly

Panicking over Quarterback

This ugly monster could rear its head in a number of ways. It could come in the form of a massive trade with a team like the Jets at No. 3 that would leave our future draft cupboard about as bare as the place where we keep our cap space. It’d probably take a future first round pick and definitely at least this year’s second. If you want Ryan Anderson, Mason Foster, Montae Nicholson, Ereck Flowers, and Josh Doctson (and then their backups when the inevitable injury curse resumes) all almost guaranteed starting roles, then this is your option.

We could also shoot ourselves in the foot by selecting a player like Daniel Jones. I’m a fan, not a scout, but Jones clearly seems to be in a tier below Murray, Haskins, and Lock. His poor completion rate and unconvincing tape are major red flags. Online, most fans despair when he is mocked to their team. Jones likely has jack of all trades, master of none ceiling, meaning his best case scenario is a healthy, slightly more athletic Ryan Tannehill. He’s also been compared to Peyton Manning and Josh McCown which means scouts don’t really know what to make of him either. We don’t have time for a project, even if he becomes the former.

Drafting D.K. Metcalf

Hopefully the Redskins have already jumped off of Metcalf’s loud hype train. While he is undoubtedly a freak of nature, it’s unclear if his football ability is as strong. As soon as he has to change direction, he seems to lose his Zeusian status. He wasn’t even the best Wide Receiver at Ole Miss (A.J. Brown) in terms of production. Metcalf’s just too big of a risk for the Redskins, especially in the aftermath of the Doctson pick.

This draft class also has insane depth at Wide Receiver that the Redskins should spring for at any time from the late first round on. Keep an eye out for Brown, Hakeem Butler, N’Keal Harry, Marquise Brown, Kelvin Harmon, Andy Isabella, Deebo Samuel, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Riley Ridley and David Sills V. All of these guys present better value later on than Metcalf does at any point in the first round.

More good than bad should come from this draft. We should get some elite talent and strengthen our roster. That’s what the draft is supposed to be for. Please don’t fuck this up Bruce.

-Nick Shiffman

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