The Washington Redskins have faced a very disappointing 2019 season. The team itself expected to contend for a playoff spot, while fans and analysts were expecting a more pedestrian 6-10 or 7-9 record. However, it’s starting to look more and more like the team would be lucky to win more than two games. With the season virtually over, it’s time to start assessing what the teams biggest needs are. For a team like the Redskins, needs in the 2020 NFL Draft litter their roster. So, to make it easier on myself, I started with a list of positions I think the Redskins don’t need to worry about drafting:
That’s pretty much it. Some positions like interior offensive line could be on the list above, but that is dependent on Brandon Scherff, and if he were to sign an extension with the team.
Another position excluded from the list above is EDGE. The Redskins spent two second-round picks on edge rusher Montez Sweat in last year’s draft, and franchise cornerstone Ryan Kerrigan is still on the team. There was hope that these players could combine for 20 sacks this season, but now that number is likely going to end up around 10. Sweat has proven to be a force against the run game, but it was always going to take time before he could turn his extreme physical gifts into sack production. That said, I’m not sure the team expect it to take this long.
Ryan Kerrigan has been a steady force for the past eight years, and has quietly been one of the most productive pass rushers in the NFL over the past five seasons. However, at the age of 31, with his contract ending next season, it’s obvious that Kerrigan won’t be around for much longer. Other than those two exceptions, everywhere else is a weak spot, and any influx of youth and talent would be a boost.
The Redskins have a combination of youth and experience at linebacker. They have talent, but the position could stand to see an upgrade. In a perfect world, Reuben Foster would come back fully healthy and return to his rookie form, while Shaun Dion Hamilton and Cole Holcomb take the next steps in their development. This would be a scenario where the Redskins don’t need to worry about the linebacker position for the foreseeable future.
If the Redskins should look at the linebacker position, the only way I’d see a rookie being an upgrade over what they have now is if the selected one in the first round. In order for the Redskins to get the best value from this, they’d have to trade back in the first round and select a player like Isaiah Simmons or Dylan Moses. Simmons fits the team best with his biggest strength being pass coverage, something the Redskins desperately need. If the Redskins were supposed to trade with a team looking to take a quarterback, this would be an acceptable selection. Otherwise, I believe they can avoid the linebacker position altogether, as it’s not one of the major Redskins needs for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Player Fits: Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons, Alabama LB Dylan Moses
#7. Outside Linebacker (EDGE)
With Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan, outside linebacker was supposed to be a major strength of the team. Unfortunately, neither has found consistent success rushing the passer. With Ryan Kerrigan pushing further and further into his 30s, and his contract ending after next season, it’s easy to see the Redskins viewing EDGE as a need in the 2020 NFL Draft.
If the Redskins did look to take an EDGE player, I imagine their interests will be commanded by the best player in the class. Chase Young should be the first non-quarterback taken in the draft. I view him as the best prospect since Myles Garrett came out of Texas A&M. Young is an elite athlete with excellent size and above-average nuance as a pass rusher. His upside is astronomical and his floor is strong as well. The Redskins need for outside linebacker might not be huge, but Chase Young isn’t a player you just pass up.
Player Fits: Ohio State EDGE Chase Young
#6. Free Safety
Similar to the other positions listed thus far, free safety is dependent on other factors. Specifically, Montae Nicholson and his future with the team. When healthy and out of trouble, Nicholson is a productive player for the Redskins and pairs very well with Landon Collins. However, it’s not very often Nicholson is healthy or out of trouble. He’s recently been linked to the overdose of a 21-year old woman, and the Redskins may decide he’s too much of a headache to keep around. If his happens, the Redskins will need to look for a new free safety.
Luckily, this safety class is a strong one. There multiple guys that I really like, and a number of them are capable of playing the single high role. Two that stick out are Cal’s Ashtyn Davis and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. Both players exhibit the requisite athletic ability and instincts to play over the top of the defense and would pair very well with Collins. I believe one of these players will be available at the Redskins third-round selection, and potentially even into the fourth.
Player Fits: Cal FS Ashtyn Davis, Minnesota FS Antoine Winfield Jr.
#5. Interior Offensive Line
I believe the interior of the Redskins offensive line could be a strength of the team. Chase Roullier is a top-12 center in football, and Brandon Scherff is a top five guard. It all rounds out with Ereck Flowers playing far and away the best football of his career. However, Scherff’s contract is up for the season, and it seems as if the team has made no progress in a potential contract extension. If the team fails to re-sign Scherff, it will not only be another gruesome mistake by the incompetent front office, but it will create an entirely new need for the Redskins in the 2020 NFL Draft.
If the Redskins find themselves looking for interior line help, it likely won’t be until late Day 2 or beyond. They’ve had a tendency to go after senior interior linemen in the past, and I’d expect that to continue. Make sure you’re paying attention to the players at the Reese’s Senior Bowl for possible future Redskins.
Player Fits: Michigan OL Ben Bredeson, Oregon OL Shane Lemieux
#4. Wide Receiver
Specifically, a secondary receiver. Terry “F1” McLaurin is the Redskins #1 receiver, and will be for the foreseeable future. The issue is other teams have started to notice this as well. McLaurin has been the Redskins only real threat on offense, and it’s caused opposing teams to game plan against him, leaving a number of one-on-one match-ups that the current receiving weapons just can’t win. I like Kelvin Harmon a ton, and think his skill-set compliments McLaurin’s well, but there still a lack of dynamic play-making from the slot.
The Redskins should look to target a receiver who can win from the inside, and separate on crucial downs. A guy like Tyler Johnson could have a draft day slide and fall to the Redskins third or fourth-round pick. If that were to happen, I’d select him immediately. The Redskins need a playmaker in the slot, and this class has a cornucopia of options. This is a dream scenario where a deep class meets a big-time need for the Redskins in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Player Fits: Minnesota WR Tyler Johnson, Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk, Penn State WR KJ Hamler
The Redskins have one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL, despite having one of the best cornerbacks in all of football in 2019 in Quinton Dunbar. According to Football Outsiders DVOA rankings, the Redskins have the eighth-worst pass defense in the NFL. That’s due to the fact that opposing QBs average the sixth-highest passer rating when facing the Redskins. Opposing passers also average the highest completion percentage in the NFL when facing the Redskins, and the team has also given up the seventh-highest amount of passing touchdowns. To summarize, the Redskins pass defense sucks.
Josh Norman looks to be a likely cut candidate and Fabian Moreau has not shown any real level of development since being viewed as a steal in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Redskins need an upgrade at CB badly, someone who can pair with Quinton Dunbar and keep opposing QBs from falling asleep at night. Whether outside or in the slot, the Redskins need talent in the cornerback room.
Player Fits: Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah, Washington CB Myles Bryant, Mississippi State CB Cameron Dantzler
#2: Tight End
Jordan Reed hasn’t been able to practice all season due to his seventh documented concussion since his freshman season at Florida. Many believe Reed is done forever. It’s unsafe for him to play and earlier in the season, he couldn’t work out without getting major migraines. The Redskins also have Vernon Davis, who hasn’t seen the field since Week 4, and will be 36 before the end of the 2019 season. Jeremy Sprinkle has been consistently underwhelming, and tight end has quietly become a major need for the Redskins in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The team sadly lacked the foresight to see this coming, and chose to not take a tight end last year, in what might be the deepest tight end class we see for sometime. Instead, they look toward this draft, which has a mixed bag of some nice players. That said, not many look like impact guys moving forward. Luckily, the class did get a boost from Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth, who confirmed his eligibility for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Player Fits: Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth, Purdue TE Brycen Hopkins
#1. Offensive Tackle
Trent Williams is done with the organization. It’s time to move on. The team should move Williams for any draft capital they can get, and move forward with offensive tackle being the top need for the Redskins in the 2020 NFL Draft and beyond. Donald Penn has been serviceable, but he’ll be 37 by the start of the 2020 NFL Draft. The Redskins need to find their cornerstone left tackle and they need to do it soon. On the right side, Morgan Moses has gotten worse each of the last three years, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious he shouldn’t be a part of the team’s future.
In 2018, the Redskins drafted Geron Christian with hopes that he could eventually replace Williams, but I think Christian fits best at right tackle and should be the heir apparent to Moses. Christian is too much of a liability in pass protection on a down-to-down basis to let him protect Dwayne Haskins’ blindside.
If the Redskins do plan to take their franchise left tackle, it will be with their first pick. They need a guy who’s talented enough to plug and play and let him develop throughout the his rookie season. Someone with excellent physical traits, nuanced and consistent technique, who comes from a blue-blood program that coached him the right ways. In most draft classes, there’s at best one player who meets all these requirements per class. Some might not have any players that meet such standards. However, in this class, there’s at least two.
Player Fits: Georgia OT Andrew Thomas, Iowa OT Tristan Wirfs