Redskins Draft Primer

By: Joe Pohoryles

With the 2020 NFL Draft beginning tomorrow night at 8 p.m., it is an exciting time for Redskins football. As holders of the No. 2 overall pick, the team has the opportunity to select the player who many believe is the best in the draft: Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young. They may also have the opportunity to trade back for a king’s ransom, acquiring capital to select multiple high-end prospects. Either way, it’s a win-win, and could mark the first step in getting this franchise back into the playoffs.

Barring any trades, the Redskins will be done early on the first night of the draft, and will have to wait quite awhile before getting started on Day 2. Since last year’s trade with the Colts allowed the team to select Montez Sweat 26th overall, the Colts own the Skins’ second-rounder this year (the 34th overall pick).

Of course, it is possible the Skins could get back into the second round without even moving out from the No. 2 spot. With Trent Williams on the trade block, there has been increasing buzz surrounding potential moves to finally get Williams out of town. Whether that will actually net a second-rounder or better remains to be seen, but a third- or fourth-rounder and/or an immediately impactful player are not out of the question for a return.

There are multiple possibilities with draft night, but here are a few scenarios, ranging from the expected to the practically impossible.

Scenario 1: Chalk

Redskins don’t make any moves with their early round picks, select Chase Young at No. 2

While teams have been sending offers Washington’s way, it appears most likely that the team will stand pat and take Young. It could all be smoke and mirrors, and the team may shock us, but with a prospect as highly regarded as Young up for grabs, it appears unlikely that the new defensive-minded head coach, Ron Rivera, will pass that up.

That would leave the team with their third-round pick at No. 66, where they could choose a lower-tier receiver in what many regard as the deepest wide receiver class in the history of the draft, such as Penn State’s KJ Hamler, Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool, or really any of the best available receivers at that point. The team struck gold with Terry McLaurin in the third round last year, and would be lucky to find another strong receiving option to help Dwayne Haskins take a step forward in his sophomore season.

They could choose to reach for a tight end prospect, as that is one of their biggest positional needs, but they may be better off waiting until the fourth-round. Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet and Dayton’s Adam Trautman are massive, both standing around 6’5″, and played significant roles in their offenses in college. They may be off the board by the Skins’ 108 pick in the fourth round, so the team will have to decide whether it’s worth it to take them that high when pretty much every tight end prospect in this class will need a couple seasons to develop into full-time threats.

No matter which names they go for, pass-catchers should be a priority for the team on Day 2.

Scenario 2: Trade down, miss out on Young

Redskins trade down from No. 2, receive multiple first-rounders and a second… possibly more

If the team really does not feel strongly enough about Young (which doesn’t appear to be the case) or a trading partner blows the Skins away with its offer, the team could opt to trade down and receive more capital.

Miami stands out as the best potential partner. They have plenty of early picks, and the Dolphins appear to be in the market for a new quarterback. By trading up to No. 2, Miami would have its choice between Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert. The Redskins, meanwhile, would likely acquire the No. 5 pick, either the No. 18 or No. 26 overall pick, plus the No. 39 pick, and possibly a future first-rounder or two.

It has been reported that Miami is looking to trade up for the best offensive tackle instead of a quarterback, so this specific partnership makes this situation even less likely, but it’s worth observing the players who could be available if the team were to move back for multiple picks, no matter who they end up trading with.

Here are some of the names the team would have a good chance of selecting at each of Miami’s early positions in 2020:

No. 5: CB Jeff Okudah, LB Isaiah Simmons, OT Tristan Wirfs, OT Jedrick Wills Jr.

Assuming Miami takes a quarterback and the Lions snag Young, the Giants could either trade back from No. 4 to allow a team to take the third quarterback on the board, or stay at No. 4 and pick their top choice from the names above.

That would leave Washington with their choice of the rest. Okudah and Simmons both play positions of need on defense, and would make an immediate impact. Wirfs, Wills, and even Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Louisville’s Meckhi Beckton could all be in the mix to replace Williams at left tackle.

No. 18: CB CJ Henderson, DE AJ Epenesa, CB AJ Terrell, WR Jalen Reagor, CB Jaylon Johnson

No. 26: WR Denzel Mims, CB Trevon Diggs, WR Justin Jefferson, LB Kenneth Murray

The list extends beyond these names, but these are all players in positions of need. It would be unlikely that the team receives both of these picks, but with either one they have the option to add to the defense or get a high-end receiver. Of course, I am personally against drafting wide receivers in the first round, especially in a class as deep as this one looks to be, but it’s an option that is certainly on the table.

No. 39: OT Ezra Cleveland, CB Kristian Fulton, DE Zack Baun, CB Jeff Gladney

No. 56: LB Jordyn Brooks, LB Akeem-Davis Gaither, LB Malik Harrison, WR Leviska Shenault Jr.

The second-rounders are harder to predict, as I’m positive there are teams with first-round grades on any of the players above, and projected first-rounders could slip into the second round. Nevertheless, the players picked here would not necessarily be instant-star players. Chances are they would be worked into the starting lineup over time.

Looking at all these names and keeping in mind any others I may have left off, would the Redskins rather have their choice of three to four of these guys instead of Young? Personally, I’d go with Young. He seems like the surest thing in the draft, and the team cannot afford to miss on their early picks if they’re looking to get better soon.

Not only that, but looking at Nick Bosa’s impact for the San Francisco 49ers’ defense has me excited for the potential Young could have. I’m not saying the Skins will be in the Super Bowl next year, but if Young truly is the type of player everyone is saying he is, it would be difficult to pass up on. The only players I listed above who I believe could even come close to Young’s potential impact is Okudah and Simmons, and if the Skins were to trade with a team outside the top five instead of Miami, there’s no guarantee either would be available by the time the Skins picked.

Scenario 3: The Dream Scenario

I will preface this by saying there is no way everything I describe here falls into place. In fact, there’s no guarantee anything I say here will happen, but it’s fun to dream. First, the Redskins keep the No. 2 pick and select Young. With Williams on the block, there have been reports that the Cleveland Browns are interested in a trade. As I mentioned before, I would be shocked if the team gets anything better than a second-rounder, but since this is the dream scenario, they get a first-rounder. In a simple deal, Cleveland sends the 10th overall pick to Washington in exchange for Williams.

Another team rumored to be in the running for Williams is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although the biggest doubt for a deal there would be the financial situation of Tampa. The addition of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to a team with an already lethal receiving core and solid defense makes the Bucs possible Super Bowl contenders, so Tampa may want to go cheaper in finding a new left tackle.

Luckily the 2020 draft is loaded with top-end prospects at the tackle position. With Miami already looking to trade up for a tackle, there is a good chance the best ones go quickly. Maybe after missing out on Williams, the Bucs want to crawl up from 14th overall and into the top 10 to get their star tackle of the future. In this situation, the Redskins give Tampa the 10th pick in exchange for the 14th pick and the 45th pick. (An even better situation would be receiving OJ Howard in a similar deal in order to solve the tight end situation, but not only would that be even more unlikely than this scenario already is, but a deal for Howard fell through two months ago.)

The Redskins staying at No. 2 to take the consensus top prospect and getting rid of a disgruntled player while simultaneously getting a second-rounder back AND an additional first-rounder would be the best possible scenario. Even if the team can get just a second for Williams, that’s worth celebrating.

In this specific instance, the team could take the 14th pick and trade back even further to pick up even more capital, but to keep things simple, we’ll take a look at some holes they could fill.

The team could try to replace Williams at 14 with Houston’s Josh Jones, or they could make up for the departure of Quinton Dunbar with a defensive back like Henderson or Johnson, as mentioned before. If they wanted to go the wide receiver route, there would be a decent chance that either CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy would be available, but they could address that position at 45.

With a new second-rounder, players like Michael Pittman Jr., a receiver from USC, or any of the players I mentioned as potential second-rounders in the previous scenario could be there for the taking.

To wrap things up, there are always winners and losers in the NFL Draft, and there are always plenty of surprises. Perhaps nothing crazy will happen; the Skins take a top prospect and call it a night. Maybe the football world will turn upside down. In any case, with this being a time without much sports going on, the draft will be an even bigger spectacle than it is on a normal year, so let’s hope the Redskins make all the right moves with the lights shining brighter.

(Cover Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports)

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