It’s a common debate during the NFL draft: Does a team take the Best Player Available (BPA) path or draft for need?
The overall consensus is that the Washington Redskins, especially in the first two rounds, opted firmly for the latter.
By drafting Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne at pick 13 ahead of Safety Derwin James for example, the Skins have chosen a high floor football player over a high ceiling football player.
An immediate priority
Let us not forget, however, that the NFC East division already boasted stud backs Zeke Elliott in Dallas and Jay Ajayi in Philadelphia. The New York Giants then proceeded to draft Saquon Barkley, the likely best overall player in the draft. A focus on beefing up the defensive line with run stuffing capability was not just an immediate need in Washington; it was an absolute immediate priority.
And the Redskins went for a double beef sandwich when they snatched Tim Settle in the fifth. The 329 pound Settle was projected as a 2-3rd rounder, but with red flags around the league in relation to his weight and poor NFL combine showing.
If Tim can stuff the run, and not his mouth, then the Skins have landed a bargain and would have a real legitimate interior DL rotation of young talent in Jon Allen, Payne and Settle.
Any lead up to the draft contains more gossip, half-truths and innuendo than even the Oval Office in D.C. can muster. The second most revered running back pre-draft, Derrius Guice, was being touted for Washington as high as the 13th pick. Instead, with rumours swirling of a confrontational NFL combine meeting with Philadelphia and, bizarrely, an overly fond love of video games, Guice fell down to the 59th pick.
By all accounts, Guice is a very hard running back, with comparisons even made with the mighty Marshawn Lynch. A 2.0 version of Beast Mode in D.C. is perhaps aiming a little too high, but the position has been a problem since the Alfred Morris rookie and sophomore years. Washington might well have nabbed a franchise RB to compete for yards with the NFC East trio of elite backs.
What of the other draft selections?
With the strong focus on these immediate needs, the Washington Redskins have actually positioned themselves well for a BPA focused draft next year. For the forthcoming season, Washington upgraded the QB position with Alex Smith under centre and a frugal approach in free agency has the Redskins $17 million under the cap.
It would be a wise move to use any rollover dollar on key players on the roster. Brandon Scherff and Jamison Crowder can, and should, be tied up to long-term contracts in D.C. Alternatively the under the cap position might also allow the Redskins to benefit from any surprising cut across the league – as happened with Josh Norman.
And what of the other college guys drafted? Geron Christian gets an A grade for the jersey possibilities on a purely selfish level, but more importantly offers youth as a swing tackle. The Redskins O-Line has elite potential with Trent Williams, Morgan Moses and Scherff, but all have suffered injuries.
In 2017 Montae Nicholson was seen as a reach by the Redskins, but his natural athleticism and playmaking far exceeded expectations. Washington will hope that fellow fourth rounder Troy Apke can bring an instant special team boost with his speed and an eventual football player instinct to match the raw athletic ability.
Shaun Dion Hamilton is an injury hit LB who fell owing to the knee history. It’s a typical sixth round swing but if fully healthy anything is possible.
Hoping to be very relevant will be Trey Quinn, the last pick for the Redskins and the entire draft. A slot type WR with good hands and routes that apparently Jay Gruden banged the table for.
The Skins organisation is finally appearing smarter and leaner.
This article was originally published under the title “Redskins Swing for Priority Needs in the Draft 2018”, on unclesamsports.com.