If the 2018 NFL Draft taught us anything about the Washington Redskins, it’s that Team President Bruce Allen, Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, and Head Coach Jay Gruden were not afraid to use the this draft to fill the team’s needs on both side of the football. They also seemed to have no problem reaching a bit for a specific player they felt would fit nicely in their scheme.
After the waters have cleared, and we have had some time to look at the results of the previous 3-day whirlwind, it’s pretty evident, even from the most casual fans, that the Skins knocked the ball out of the park in the draft - some would even say they hit a walk-off grand slam!
Da’Ron Payne; DT - Defensive line was arguable the team’s biggest need heading into the 2018 offseason. After spending resources in both free agency and the draft on the position the previous year, some pundits were unsure how much the team would actually allocate to the trenches this year.
Free agency saw the team flirt with a few big-name players, but it was very clear that the team was not about to overpay for aging veteran talent.
Once the draft was upon us, fans from all over the country were screaming for help in the middle of the defense. Luckily, the Redskins did not disappoint.
It did get hairy for a moment, when the crown jewel of amateur GM’s, Vita Vea, was selected one pick before the Redskins were set to hit the clock by the Bucs. But panic the Skins did not. Instead, they quickly moved to secure the services of the second best defensive tackle in the draft in Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne.
In Payne, the Redskins get a player who can be a true nose tackle in base looks, but can also grow into a more complete 3-down defensive tackle down the line with the right coaching. Was he a bit of a reach - maybe, but the team had a need that far trumped the perceived reach of the player at 13.
Tim Settle; DT - Not only did the Redskins secure the services of Payne with their first round pick, but they double-dipped with a later selection of local Virginia Tech product Tim Settle in the 5th round. Settle, the 6’3” 330 pound monster, was projected by many to be taken in the 2nd or 3rd round. Instead, he found himself slipping into the 5th, and the Redskins pounced.
In Settle, the Skins get a space-eating man in the middle, who also has the ability to grow into a 3-down prospect in time. Aside from continuing to focus in on a great need, the Redskins were able to get maximum value with their fifth round selection - an obvious bonus.
Trey Quinn; WR - I’ll be the first to admit - I did not scout Trey Quinn this offseason. I’ll also be the first to admit - I was wrong for not doing so. The 6’0” 203 pound stud has all the skills needed to be a productive NFL slot receiver. He runs great routes, has sticky hands, and is dangerous after the catch with the ball in his hands. What makes this pick have incredible value is that Quinn was Mr. Irrelevant. I doubt that moniker holds true for very much longer...
Troy Apke; S - Even Troy Apke didn’t expect to hear his name until the 5th or 6th rounds - or maybe even later. When he was selected by the Redskins at 109 overall, many fans went, “who”?
Sure, Apke was not your household name, but the Redskins obviously felt that safety was a big need, and the athletic ability Apke possesses (4.34 40, and 41’ vert) was worth a bit of a reach. Of course, that kind of speed can’t be taught, but did it come at the expense of better prospects who were on the board? No one may ever know the answer to that question, but it’s pretty evident the Redskins got their guy - even if they had to take him a full two rounds higher than he would have likely gone.
The Value Vs. Need:
This is my absolute favorite category.
Derrius Guice; RB - There may not have been a greater value pick in the entire draft than LSU phenom Derrius Guice. The spectacular running back with blazing speed, exceptional vision and patience, and a battering ram running style slipped out of the first round, and stood, still undrafted, when the Redskins came to select at number 59 overall. The Redskins had passed him over once, as they elected to trade the number 44 overall pick to the 49ers to move back and add a third round choice. They would not pass on him again.
When the 59th pick was on the board, and the Redskins turned in the card with Guice’s name on it, all of Redskins Nation let out a giant sigh of relief; followed by screams of jubilation. Not only was Guice a HUGE need, but he also represented unbelievable value where he was selected. So what if teams knocked him because he likes to play video games, or because some felt he was immature - the Redskins got one hell of a pick in Guice.
So, did the Redskins improve their roster this offseason?...Do bears ________ in the woods?
In all my years following this team’s offseason, I have never seen a bigger improvement from the end of the previous season, to the end of the NFL Draft of that year.
QB - Call it like you will, but I feel the Skins took a big jump ahead in their quarterback carousel by trading for Alex Smith. The only downside is that Smith is about to turn 34 years old.
The upside - proven winner, better decision maker, better deep ball accuracy, better TD:INT ratio, better runner, and better leader.
RB - The selection of Guice gives the Redskins the first true bell-cow, 3-down running back they have had since Clinton Portis. Guice has home-run ability, can run between the tackles, turn the corner, block, catch and truck defenders. He’s absolutely everything you want in a running back, and immediately improves the Skins anemic ground game.
WR - The free agent signing of Paul Richardson was brilliant. He gives the Redskins what they were missing since DeSean Jackson left last season - a true deep threat. The drafting of Trey Quinn and the signing of Simmie Cobbs as an undrafted free agent gives the team some young guys to develop.
OL - Many fans may simply gloss over the selection of Garon Christian with the third round pick the team grabbed when they traded back with San Francisco in the second round. Christian however, was one of the more intriguing picks of the draft for the Skins. He has tremendous upside, and can come in and immediately compete for the swing tackle position - which may free up Ty Nsekhe for a move to left guard.
Aside from Christian, the Redskins also nabbed talented C/G Sean Welsh as an undrafted free agent, and resigned Sean Lauvao a few days after the draft.
DL - No position was impacted greater this offseason than defensive line. Adding Payne and Seattle to this unit immediately makes the Redskins defensive front respectable. The dearth of young defensive line talent the Redskins are accumulating is very impressive.
LB - Re-signing both Brown and Foster was key for the development and chemistry of the team. When these two were on the field last year, teams did not run on this defense. Sean Dion Hamilton gives the Redskins a young stud defender who they can develop behind the starters.
CB - Losing Breeland and Fuller looks bad on paper, but the Skins may have prepared for that last year when they drafted Fabian Moreau and Joshua Holsey. This year, they went out and signed veteran Orlando Scandrick and drafted Virginia Tech standout Greg Stroman in the seventh round. They re-signed Quinton Dunbar who may project as a starter opposite Norman.
S - For as much as I thought the Apke pick was a reach, he still adds much needed youth and athleticism to the back end of the defense. The Redskins made a splash by signing local product Quin Blanding as an undrafted free agent. Blanding may not make the roster as a rookie, but he should be a great developmental prospect to stash on the practice squad for a year.
The Redskins took a huge step forward towards a return to respectability with their 2018 offseason. The presence of Alex Smith alone should boost their win total from 2017. Building the trenches may not be the sexy approach, but it is certainly the smart one.
For once in what feel like decades, the Redskins appear to be doing things the right way by making smart draft picks, and not overspending in free agency. If this trend continues, we could see a rapid rise to the glory days of yesteryear.