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The Redskins Have Struggled Recently to Find Success with Early Draft Picks

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Whether due to lack of production, poor scheme fit, injury, or leaving the team, the Redskins have struggled to find success with their early draft picks over recent years.

Why the Redskins continue to draft players with higher draft picks who don’t fit their schemes is beyond me, but this is only part of the problem here in D.C.

This seems to be an on-going trend here in our Nations Capital. This trend could be seen since Mike Shanahan took over as head coach in 2010, but it really became more prevalent when the team hired Jay Gruden in 2014.

Since 2014, the Redskins have had a total of 12 draft picks in the top three rounds of the NFL Draft. Teams expect to find starters and early contributors in rounds one through three, and these are guys you hope will be on your team for many years to come. This hasn’t exactly been the case for the Redskins.

2014:

2 - Trent Murphy - 22 starts, 15 sacks

3 - Morgan Moses - 49 starts

3 - Spencer Long - 31 starts

2015:

1 - Brandon Scherff - 46 starts

2 - Preston Smith - 34 starts, 20 sacks

3 - Matt Jones - 7 starts, 950 yards, 6 touchdowns, 8 fumbles (6 lost)

2016:

1 - Josh Doctson - 14 starts, 568 yards, 6 touchdowns

2 - Su’a Cravens - 3 starts, 34 tackles, 1 interception

3 - Kendall Fuller - 12 starts, 97 tackles, 4 interceptions

2017:

1 - Jonathan Allen - 5 starts, 10 tackles, 1 sack

2 - Ryan Anderson - 0 starts, 15 tackles,

3 - Fabian Moreau - 0 starts, 14 tackles


The Good:

Morgan Moses - many draft pundits had Moses going in the first round. He slipped into the third due to concerns about his heavy feet and waist-bending tendencies. He took some time adjusting to the NFL, but he’s started every game for the Redskins at right tackle since 2015, and has really been a pleasant surprise.

Brandon Scherff - Many will say that the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft was too high to take a guard; especially with players like Leonard Williams (2016 Pro Bowl) and Vic Beasley (2016 first team All-Pro) on the board. Despite the criticism of the pick, Scherff has been very solid for the Redskins, and will be a player they can continue to build around for many years. Was it a home-run pick - no, but it was safe and solid.

Kendall Fuller - Fuller struggled as a rookie in the slot for the Redskins, but he was exceptional in 2017 at the same position. The injury he suffered in college may have held him back a bit early on, but once he regained full health, he was the player many had envisioned pre-injury. Unfortunately, he’s now on his way to Kansas City as part of the Alex Smith trade.

The Bad:

Matt Jones - Scot McCloughan used a third round pick on the running back from Florida, despite a lack of college production, and some injury history. Jones did nothing but fumble away his Redskins career, and he may soon find himself out of football altogether.

Josh Doctson - Doctson was known in college to be a player who can go up and attack the ball in the air, and win many 50:50 situations. The problem is, Jay Gruden’s hybrid West Coast offense relies on timing, precise routes and run-after-catch abilities - none of which Doctson is exceptionally good at. It also helps to catch the ball when it hits you in the hands. Injuries have certainly held him back, but so has a lack of production when he’s on the field.

Su’a Cravens - Cravens was a player who came to the Redskins without a true position. He started his career at USC as a safety, but was later moved to outside linebacker. The Redskins tried to used him as a dime linebacker, and had plans of moving him to strong safety before he up and quit on the team at the end of training camp last season. He’s a perfect NFL WILL outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, but the Redskins do not use that position in their defense.

Ryan Anderson - True 3-4 outside linebackers are usually thought to be quick-twitch, speed-type pass rushers. Ryan Anderson is not that. He’s a slow, cumbersome edge-setter who will probably be no more than a reserve during his time in D.C. It is early, and maybe Anderson can turn things around in year two, but I’m not holding my breath.

Indifferent:

Trent Murphy - Murphy was an incredibly productive college defensive end, who had a nose for the football. The problem is, he was not an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. If the Redskins ran a base 4-3, where Murphy could rush from the 7-technique with his hand in the dirt, the pick may have made some more sense. Another case of the team trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Spencer Long - Long was a guard who the team tried to convert to center. He did well there, but it now looks as though the teams wants to go in a different direction.

Preston Smith - (see Trent Murphy).

Fabian Moreau - Moreau was excellent on special teams as a rookie. Hopefully, he’ll have a major role in this defense in 2018 and beyond.

The Wild Card:

Jonathan Allen - Jonathan Allen was not supposed to be on the board when the Redskins picked in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Some injury concerns caused him to slip however, and the Skins landed a very good player. Despite the foot injury that ended his rookie season, you can see that Allen has the “it factor”. When he was in the rotation, teams were not having success running the football against us. When he was out, that all changed. Hopefully Allen can stay healthy, and be a force for many years to come.


Grading picks early in their careers often comes down to value versus production. Many people will argue that it’s too soon, or not fair to grade many of these players this early, but the NFL is a business, and the letters stand for NOT FOR LONG if you aren’t producing. These players are being paid handsomely for their work, and if they just aren’t getting it done, or aren’t even showing some early potential, they will certainly be knocked for it. Can they rebound and prove their early grade wrong...absolutely - it happens all the time. For now though, what we see is what we get.

Below are my choices for best and worst picks from this list of players.

Best Pick:

Morgan Moses - Moses was thought of as a first round talent, but slipped in the draft. I view his selection on a value versus production scale to rank as the best of these players I have listed.

Worst Pick:

Josh Doctson - Doctson was the 22nd overall pick of the 2016 draft. Had he been a third round selection, he wouldn’t be in this spot, but the draft position, and pure lack of production, firmly plants him here.

Head-Scratcher:

Ryan Anderson - I just don’t get this pick at all. This guy was one of the most un-athletic players at his position in the entire draft last year, and could barely get on the field as even a reserve last year. When he did play, he was easily neutralized. We have Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith as starters. I get that both Murphy and Galette were pending free agents, but a second round pick for Anderson was just WAY too high.

Poll

Who has been the Redskins best pick in the first three rounds since 2014?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Morgan Moses
    (181 votes)
  • 40%
    Brandon Scherff
    (396 votes)
  • 2%
    Preston Smith
    (22 votes)
  • 12%
    Kendall Fuller
    (124 votes)
  • 25%
    Jonathan Allen
    (253 votes)
976 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who has been the Redskins worst pick in the first three rounds since 2014?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Trent Murphy
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Spencer Long
    (8 votes)
  • 54%
    Matt Jones
    (522 votes)
  • 8%
    Josh Doctson
    (77 votes)
  • 16%
    Su’a Cravena
    (159 votes)
  • 19%
    Ryan Anderson
    (181 votes)
952 votes total Vote Now