“The best Redskins draft in recent memory.”
Some variation of the above statement has shown itself to be the consensus among the team’s fanbase, since the 2018 Draft concluded last Saturday.
And that’s all that matters right? And while last year’s class ended up with a slightly higher grade from most reputable outlets. This year’s group on its face, does feel like a stronger haul.
|4th||Troy Apke||S||Penn State|
|6th||Shaun Dion Hamilton||LB||Alabama|
Anchored by the selection of Da’Ron Payne, the big run stopping defensive tackle out of Alabama, the team opted to stress need over best player available with their first choice. While leaving flashier playmaking talents such as Derwin James (safety, FSU) and Tremaine Edmunds (LB, VaTech) on the board, left some scratching their heads.
Despite a defense that showed early season improvements before the injury bug hit last year. The team deserves some credit for sticking to their guns and taking a player that on paper, addresses a major deficiency over shinier options. It goes without saying that Washington’s run game was non-existent on both sides of the ball in 2017. Ranking dead last in rush defense. 28th in rush offense.
Then this happened…
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) April 28, 2018
Ahead of last Thursday’s draft, there was no secret that the Redskins intended on upgrading the talent in the running backs room. Everyone from HC Jay Gruden to VP Doug Williams, were quoted as saying they had every intention of taking a back high. And the name most often mentioned, was Derrius Guice out of LSU.
With no third rounder prior to trading back, the second round would be their best chance to grab one of the more highly regarded backs in the class. But the odds of his being there at pick 44 weren’t that great. And at pick 59?
Bad PR Works Out For a Change
Blame it on bad luck, timing, greed, or something totally unfathomable– each year a top prospect has his livelihood tampered with by a random rumor immediately before or on draft day. This year there were two, Josh Allen and Guice.
At 5’10 1/2 and 224 lbs (combine measurables), the selection of Guice at the backend of round two is the sheer definition of a value pick. Only time will tell, if the “immaturity” rumors that seemed to pick up steam once the draft started will become an actual thing in the pros. But grabbing a 1st round talent at that position, at that point of the draft, is a risk worth taking.
Prior to the Guice selection, the best part of the above mentioned trade with San Francisco was the recouping of a third round pick. A selection lost in the Alex Smith-Kendall Fuller trade. And though the selection of tackle Geron Christian wasn’t a sexy pick, it may prove to be a prudent one. As one of the worst areas the team saw ravaged by injury last season, was the offensive line.
In rounds four through seven, Washington continued to go with selections that addressed trouble spots over the last few years. Safety and special teams (Apke), stopping the run (Settle), inside linebacker depth (Hamilton), special teams and depth (Stroman, Quinn).
The team and the league won’t be able to truly grade the 2018 Skins draft for about three years. After these guys spend a couple offseasons in a pro program and carve out a niche on the 53 man roster. Provided they make the team that is.
With two players from last year’s draft slated to be impact starters this year (Allen, Roullier). And another, with a chance to earn a starting nod or significant playing time (Moreau), last year’s class could be tough to top. Especially when considering the entire class saw the field in 2017. But with such a need-focused draft this year, if this class can equal last year’s in terms of seeing the field– it will be to the team’s benefit. Best draft or not.