By: Joe Pohoryles
Three days ago, the Kansas City Chiefs scored 21 unanswered points to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV, delivering the first Lombardi trophy to Kansas City in 50 years. It was also the first Super Bowl win for Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid, solidifying his status as one of the greatest coaches of all-time.
It was also the first Super Bowl for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who at 24 years old already has a league MVP, a Super Bowl ring, and a Super Bowl MVP title to his name. He is the first quarterback under 25 to check all of those boxes, and looks poised to win more than one in each category before his career comes to a close.
It was not even Mahomes’ greatest game — far from it, based on his standards — but he did what was needed to win. A crucial play came with 6:21 left in the third quarter when the 49ers led 13-10. Mahomes took the snap from the Chiefs’ 46-yard line and dropped back, but was unaware of 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa, who ripped past Kansas City tackle Eric Fisher, reached Mahomes in the middle and knocked the ball out of the star quarterback’s clutches.
Mahomes was able to leap on the loose ball, keeping the drive alive, where a turnover would have handed San Francisco solid field position and a chance to extend their lead. You cannot let Bosa, the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year, get to Mahomes that easily. So the Chiefs compensated.
Slide 1: Nick Bosa (circled) is lined up just outside of left tackle Eric Fisher. Slide 2: Bosa cuts into the middle and muscles past Fisher. Slide 3: Bosa beats Fisher to Mahomes, knocking the ball (circled in orange) out of Mahomes’ grasp.
On the next play, Bosa tried to get past Fisher from the outside, where he was met by KC running back Damien Williams. Bosa was now taking on a double-team block, but Chiefs guard Stefen Wisniewski, with no one in front of him to block, spun around to assist Fisher and Williams.
With three players attracted to Bosa, Niners defensive end Arik Armstead blew past his blocker and stormed towards Mahomes, rushing his pass, which landed straight into linebacker Fred Warner’s chest. San Francisco now had the ball on their own 45, and scored on the next drive to make the game 20-10.
Slide 1: On the next play, Bosa lines up outside again. Slide 2: This time, Bosa rushes on Fisher from the outside. Slide 3: Damien Williams comes in off the play-action to help block, and Stefen Wisniewski (orange) comes in to triple-team Bosa. Meanwhile, Arik Armstead (blue) rushes inside on Mitchell Schwartz. Slide 4: Williams spins out for a screen option as Wisniewski comes in, but by then Armstead has gotten past Schwartz. Slide 5: Bosa is double-teamed far from play while Armstead is already at Mahomes. Slide 6: Armstead’s rush forced Mahomes to get rid of the ball early, throwing it right at Fred Warner.
In two plays, Bosa forced a fumble and got credited with a sack, then drew three blockers to open up the field for his teammates to force an interception. That is what you call a game-changer.
Bosa was selected by San Francisco with the second overall pick in the draft in 2019 out of Ohio State, and helped bring them to a Super Bowl the next season. What if the Redskins had the opportunity to draft another game-changing Ohio State edge rusher, who some scouts claim is better than his former teammate Bosa?
Fortunately, that is exactly what the Redskins have in Chase Young, the best defensive player in the country who is expected to be on the board when the Redskins are on the clock at number two.
What if they decide to trade out of that spot, though? What happens then? This draft position could very well yield at least three first round picks, and as a team lacking a second-rounder this year, maybe the Skins opt for more capital instead.
What if the Cincinnati Bengals shock the world and take Young first overall, instead of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who just completed arguably the greatest single season in college football history, and looks as pro-ready as any signal caller to come through in recent years?
There are several routes for the Redskins to take, so here is my take on the situation:
Bengals select Joe Burrow first overall; Redskins take Chase Young second
This appears to be the most likely scenario, but it’s only February. Still, it makes all the sense in the world.
Burrow, an Ohio native, looks far and away to be the best quarterback of this class, and the Bengals are in dire need of a quarterback. They can cut the poor-to-mediocre Andy Dalton for no cap penalty and begin building around Burrow.
Washington drafted their franchise quarterback last year, Dwayne Haskins Jr., who had a shaky start to his career but made steps in the right direction throughout the remainder of the season. The team has a strong defensive line already, but at second overall you take the best player available. This year, that player is Chase Young. New defensive-minded head coach Ron Rivera, and new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio must be salivating over the potential Young would add to this defense.
Young is also a DMV native, as he played high school ball at DeMatha Catholic, which really does not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a nice story.
As mentioned before, Bosa was taken by San Francisco second overall last year, and they just played in the Super Bowl. That type of turnaround cannot be expected of this team, but it certainly speaks to what a game-wrecking defensive edge can add to a defense.
There is not much else to say about this scenario. Cincinnati is in a great spot with a new franchise quarterback, the Skins get the best prospect on the board. It’s a win-win.
Bengals select Joe Burrow; Redskins trade back for more draft picks
This option has been spoken about, and is a realistic option. The Redskins sit in a great position, and a chance to draft a player like Young could move a team to offer a haul of assets.
One team that comes to mind is the Miami Dolphins, who hold three first round picks this year. They own the fifth, 18th and 26th overall picks, and with the Skins next pick being a third-rounder, exchanging those picks could be an attractive option.
At the fifth pick, they may have an opportunity to take Isaiah Simmons, Clemson’s standout linebacker who looks like a future stud. They would be lucky if he falls that far. More realistically, they could pick an offensive lineman to help protect Haskins and compensate for the possible departure of Trent Williams and/or Brandon Scherff. Jedrick Wills Jr. from Alabama, or Tristan Wirfs from Iowa, among others, come to mind.
They could also add another high-quality defensive lineman, such as Auburn’s Derrick Brown, or Javon Kinlaw coming from South Carolina. The 18th and 26th pick also have solid options on the offensive line, and maybe they could add another offensive playmaker, such as Clemson’s Tee Higgins, or Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III, although I have made my stance on drafting a wide receiver in the first round very clear.
I will admit, however, that using one of three first round picks on a high-upside receiver when it’s a major team need is more forgivable. Regardless, I’d prefer taking other positions that early.
Even if the trading partner is not the Dolphins, the Skins would have the opportunity to net several first-rounders, either this year or in the near future. Using those definitely provides the opportunity to fill numerous holes.
Just because they would have more picks, however, does not mean they will score on all of them. The then-St. Louis Rams traded down from the two spot, allowing for the Redskins to select quarterback Robert Griffin III while the Rams netted multiple first round picks. RG3 may have flamed out, but for a season it looked like he was the change the franchise needed. It’s not as if the Rams did much with their picks.
Players the Rams ended up with as a result of the 2012 RG3 trade:
Of those players, only Brockers remains with the team, and while others, like Jenkins and Ogletree, have become starter-level players, none of them became the transcendent player that Griffin III was, albeit for just one season. Unfortunately for Bailey, he was forced to retire in 2015 after surviving two gunshot wounds to the head, but the others failed to pan out.
Perhaps Rivera & Co. would make better selections. The opportunity is there, anyway. But when you have a player like Young sitting right there in front of you, you take him. There is no such thing as a sure thing, but he is the closest thing to it. ESPN’s NFL draft analyst Todd McShay put one of the highest grades on Young of any prospect in his 20+ years of analysis, and two months ago he called Young a better prospect than the Bosa brothers.
That is why I broke down those plays from the Super Bowl in the first place. Those were just two plays, but Bosa has laid out a whole body of work to prove the benefits of taking a player like Young. It does not even have to be a Bosa-Young comparison; whether one is better than the other is irrelevant, so long as Young brings the impact he is projected to.
Maybe Young will be a bust. This is the Redskins, after all. But if a player like Young can’t succeed in Washington, under this new coaching staff, I’m not sure any of the draft picks we’d get in return would.
There is no way of knowing for sure, but Young appears to be the clear best choice.
Bengals select Chase Young first overall; Redskins… panic?
This appears to be the least likely, but it has to be taken into account. Young is a fantastic prospect, so Cincinnati could easily decide to pass on building with a new QB and add a cornerstone on defense instead. What would the Redskins do then?
I cannot claim ownership of this idea, as it has been whispered around DC sports media, but I like it enough to argue for it: draft Joe Burrow.
Not only would he be the next best player on the board, but he could prove to be an even more impactful addition for the team, since he plays the most impactful position.
What about trading back? With Young off the board, quarterback-needy teams would still throw down a lot for the Heisman trophy winner. If the Bengals do take Young, though, barring unforeseen changes in the coming weeks, it will be a total shock. The Redskins would be left with 10 minutes to make a trade if they wanted.
Is that enough time to get the best deal possible? Maybe, but they lose a lot of leverage with such a short clock against them. By taking Burrow second, they could try to move him against the other teams’ clocks in the picks after them, forcing the other trade partner to make the quick decision, which could lead to a panicky overcompensation. Otherwise the Skins could sit on Burrow, and then trade him for first-rounders in 2021 and 2022 a day or two later.
Or they sit on him through training camp. Burrow and Haskins had a quarterback battle at Ohio State, with Haskins winning out, causing Burrow to transfer to LSU. They could decide which signal caller they want to move on with and trade the other. Haskins still has loads of potential, and while he may not yield as many picks as Burrow would, the team would be able to get something substantial for him, should they choose Burrow in that situation.
It’s not unprecedented. The Cardinals selected Kyler Murray first overall just last year, even after selecting Josh Rosen with a top-10 pick the year prior. Rosen was traded to Miami for a 2019 second-rounder and a 2020 fifth-rounder; not the biggest yield but the circumstances were different. Rosen swapped on and off the bench with Ryan Fitzpatrick, while Murray just won offensive rookie of the year.
There are a lot of ways the Redskins could take it, but they can’t let Burrow slip through their hands without taking some advantage of the situation, should it occur. He could get us a nice amount of picks, or become the future of the franchise. It appears most likely that this option will not come to fruition, but if it does, I would not complain either way.
(Cover Photo Credit: Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch)