Washington used two of their first three picks in the 2019 NFL Draft on offense, selecting Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin within the top 100 picks. It was a statement of intent from Bruce Allen, in what would be his final draft for the franchise. Nailing the two selections could provide for a bright future for Jay Gruden and his team. However, it took only five weeks for Gruden to be dismissed, while Allen lasted until the end of the season. Neither of the two men will be able to see whether the moves will bear fruit in the long run.
McLaurin hit the ground running his rookie term, putting forward outstanding performances on a weekly basis, despite the lack of talent around him. Quarterback Case Keenum connected with the wideout in the early stages of the season, producing two 100-yard performances and five touchdowns. The 22-year-old displayed the ability to get open quickly and make remarkable catches down the field. He was arguably the best rookie wideout to be selected in the 2019 Draft, although A.J Brown also had an impressive first term in the NFL. The sky appears to be the limit for McLaurin and he could well develop into one of the leading receivers in the league based on his current trajectory.
A lot will hinge on his relationship with Haskins at the highest level, despite their success in the college game. Interim head coach Bill Callahan opted to start Haskins during the second half of the season. The quarterback was always going to be a raw prospect despite the quality of his displays for the Ohio State Buckeyes in his only year as a starter. It proved to be the case when he was thrown into the line-up in a struggling side.
The 22-year-old was put under pressure and struggled initially before showing signs of slowly getting up to speed, notably enjoying a solid outing against the Philadelphia Eagles, and was looking good against the New York Giants before an ankle injury ended his season. He was fortunate to escape the Giants contest without severely hurting himself after taking a hit from Lorenzo Carter. Releasing the ball quickly will be an area where Haskins will have to improve to avoid taking such blows.
New coach Ron Rivera will be desperate to preserve his quarterback as there were plenty of positives, while surrounding him with talent comparable to McLaurin that will aid their cause. It will not take a great deal to turn Washington around as the NFC East was won by the 9-7 Eagles in the 2019 campaign. It’ll be worth monitoring their odds to win the division for the 2020 season and even using a risk-free Fanduel bonus on backing Washington to turn their fortunes around and end their playoff drought. Rivera has proven in the past during his time with the Carolina Panthers that he can revive stagnant franchises.
Between Haskins and McLaurin, there is enough to be excited about on offense. Running back Derrius Guice has endured a frustrating time with injuries during his first two seasons, although when he has been on the field he has been extremely productive. Bryce Love is another running back coming off an injury that will be looking to make an impact. Along with McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon was solid during his first NFL season and should only improve with additional time to adjust. Further moves will be made during the off-season to strengthen the offensive line, providing the protection that Haskins will need to thrive. However, there could be enough developing weapons for Washington to become relevant once again sooner than later.