The NFL draft is over and the instareaction grades are here. The Redskins were declared early winners of the 1st round for their selections of QB Dwayne Haskins and OLB Montez Sweat. On the second day of the draft they granted Haskins wish, and got him one of his wide receivers from Ohio State. WR Terry McLaurin joins a depleted Redskins receiving corps.
The Redskins went into Day 3 with 7 picks and used every one of them to bring their draft total to 10 players for 2019. They were able to add a RB, two offensive lineman, an ILB, another WR, a CB, and another OLB. There were value picks and head scratchers for some people. But the consensus is that the Redskins had a very good draft on paper, and the team improved.
Washington Redskins 2019 Draft Picks
Round 1(#15): Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Round 1(#26): Montez Sweat, OLB, Mississippi State
Round 2(#46): Traded to Colts
Round 3(#76): Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State
Round 3(#96): Traded to the Bills
Round 4(#112): Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Round 4(#131): Wes Martin, G, Indiana
Round 5(#153): Ross Pierschbacher, C, Alabama
Round 5(#173): Cole Holcomb, ILB, North Carolina
Round 6(#206): Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. State
Round 7(#227): Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison
Round 7(#253): Jordan Brailford, OLB, Oklahoma State
While there was speculation that they might have to trade up to get Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Washington stayed put at No. 15 and still got their guy. Haskins finished the pre-draft process ranked 10th on the PFF draft board. Drawing striking similarities to Sam Bradford, Haskins was fantastic throwing at the short and intermediate levels in his lone year as a starter at the college level.
“Getting him here at 15 is an absolute steal; one of the steals of the draft. He has a lot of promise.” – Pro Football Focus’ Lead Draft Analyst Mike Renner
Washington’s second pick in the first round, which they traded for by sending the No. 46 overall pick and a 2020 second-rounder to Indianapolis, was not as highly regarded from PFF’s brass. Former Mississippi State edge defender Montez Sweat, the No. 46 overall player on our board, is freakishly athletic but didn’t wow as a pass rusher on film.
Terry Mclaurin’s production doesn’t tell the whole story, as he was just one part of a loaded Ohio State receiving corps. He put on a show with his deep speed and route running at the Senior Bowl and finished as PFF’s No. 68 overall player in the class – nearly 30 spots ahead of his teammate Parris Campbell.
Washington picked up what could be a big steal in the draft in former NC State wide receiver Kelvin Harmon at pick No. 206 on Saturday. Harmon’s production at NC State was off the charts, but there are legitimate concerns as to whether he can separate enough to win in the NFL. He ranked 81st on PFF’s final big board.
A franchise quarterback (Haskins) and arguably the second-best edge rusher (Sweat) — who fell because of a misdiagnosed heart — to replace Preston Smith after trading back into Round 1. McLaurin can be the deep threat Josh Docston was supposed to be and a gunner on special teams. RB Bryce Love is a home-run threat behind Derrius Guice once Guice recovers from torn ACL.
Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: The Redskins are in a very difficult position because they have such a big need for a quarterback, yet this is the wrong time to have a huge void at the position, given how bad those prospects are in the 2019 NFL Draft class. They would be better off tanking for Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm or Justin Herbert in the 2020 NFL Draft. As for this draft, they need to find some new receivers, interior offensive linemen and cornerbacks.
2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: As I wrote in the goals section, the Redskins would’ve been better off waiting for a quarterback in the 2020 class, but they at least obtained some good value with Dwayne Haskins at No. 15 overall. There were reports suggesting that Washington would trade up for Haskins, which would’ve been disastrous. I don’t really have an issue with the Redskins taking Haskins at No. 15, as he was once viewed as the top quarterback in this class before Kyler Murray measured in at 5-10 instead of the speculated 5-8.
Washington’s best move was trading up into the end of the first round for Montez Sweat. The dynamic edge rusher probably would’ve been a top-10 pick if he weren’t misdiagnosed with a heart condition. Sweat was reportedly cleared the day of the draft, so I thought it was possible that he would be chosen much earlier than No. 26. He wasn’t, and the Redskins snatched a major steal as a result.
The rest of Washington’s haul was impressive, as the team filled needs with good values. The two picks I questioned were Bryce Love (adding an injury-prone running back to a roster with an injured running back didn’t make much sense) and Wes Martin (a complete unknown), but they weren’t enough to spoil what happened to be one of the best draft classes in the NFL this year.
Daniel Snyder and Bruce Allen succeeded in cooling all the predraft heat on them. They didn’t need to move to land franchise passer Haskins, and they got him two key targets in McLaurin - a former Buckeyes teammate of Haskins - and the underrated Harmon. Sweat was a steal with a trade back into late in the first round. Love is a good stash behind Derrius Guice. This is Washington’s best overall haul in years.
There were rumors that Redskins owner Dan Snyder had taken over the draft and wasn’t listening as much to his coaches and executives as he should have. Wouldn’t be the first time that happened, but if it happened this time, it’s all good. No panic moves here—Washington let the draft come to them and got two of the best overall players in this class. Getting Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick could make a lot of enemy teams regret passing on him for a long time—yes, Giants, we’re talking about you—and the addition of Mississippi State edge-rusher Montez Sweat with the 26thoverall pick gives the team a truly dynamic presence opposite Ryan Kerrigan. And I have absolutely no clue how North Carolina State receiver Kelvin Harmon lasted until the sixth round, but the Redskins snapped him up, too. For a team that has all too often been impatient to a fault when the draft comes around, this was a different—and highly successful—change of pace.
Sometimes the draft is about getting lucky. That was the case when quarterback Dwayne Haskinsslipped to No. 15. To fill the need at pass rusher, Washington jumped back into the first round to get another player in free fall with Montez Sweat. He can stand up and rush the edge.
Washington paired Haskins with Ohio State teammate Terry McLaurin, a speedy receiver who does all the small things. A couple years ago, some thought Stanford running back Bryce Love would be a top-64 pick. Then a torn ACL killed his stock. If he’s healthy, he gives Washington a shifty runner with a history of explosive plays. It’s a big risk, considering Derrius Guice has his own ACL issues, though.
Wide receiver Kelvin Harmons was straight-up theft in the back part of the sixth round. But this is a theme of these grades: Where was the cornerback?
Alex Smith’s leg injury last fall was extremely unfortunate. You have probably forgotten that the Redskins were 6-4 with a healthy Smith, then went 1-5 after he got hurt. They easily could have won the NFC East, and the entire theme of the offseason would have changed. This team has talent. Now, Washington has an onerous contract for Smith on its books, and it’s unclear when -- if ever -- he’ll play again. That means quarterback was the priority for this team.
Once the Redskins opted to trade for veteran Case Keenum as a stopgap option, we knew the first round was a possibility for owner Daniel Snyder and GM Bruce Allen to target a quarterback. So it’s funny that all of the talk was about trading up ... and Dwayne Haskins fell right into their laps at No. 15. As I wrote on Thursday night, I love the fit here. Haskins has a chip in his shoulder, and he’s a gamer. He never wilted under pressure for the Buckeyes, and he was at his best in the biggest games. I’m excited to see what coach Jay Gruden and new offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell can do with him.
The Redskins then traded back into Round 1, surrendering the No. 46 pick and a second-round pick in next year’s draft to move up to No. 26 for pass-rusher Montez Sweat, who was ranked No. 12 overall on my board. Yes, that’s a lot to give up, but I really like Sweat, who could have been a top-10 pick if not for a heart condition that caused him to drop. I spoke to people from teams that had removed him entirely from their draft boards, and I spoke to other team representatives who had him in the top 10.
After that, Washington focused on depth, and there were some names that popped for me. Terry McLaurin (No. 76) is a speed demon who I thought could go early in the second round. And he already has experience with his Buckeyes teammate Haskins. You probably know about Bryce Love’s Heisman runner-up 2018 season, but he had a down 2018 due to injuries and tore his ACL in December. This could be a redshirt year. Still, to get him at No. 112 is decent. Guard Ross Pierschbacher (No. 153) and linebacker Cole Holcomb are solid fifth-round guys who will make the team. Jimmy Moreland (No. 227) has some physical tools to work with, though he’s going to need time to adjust to the speed of the NFL.
After a turbulent end to the season, this team is back on track. Haskins and Sweat, two top-12 prospects on my board, push this class over the top.
There’s plenty to like here. It’s all so un-Redskins-like. They resisted the urge to move up or trade for Josh Rosen, stayed put at No. 15 and got the QB they wanted in Dwayne Haskins. There are questions about his mobility, but he’s a gifted pocket passer and it wouldn’t be shocking if he’s the Week 1 starter. Pass rusher Montez Sweat will turn out to be a steal at No. 26 if his health-related concerns indeed arose from a misdiagnosis. Getting speedy WR Terry McLaurin in the third round helps, and using a fourth-round choice on RB Bryce Love is intriguing.
Pre-draft reports out of the nation’s capital forecast a draft night train wreck. But the ‘Skins not only averted the rumored disaster, they showed atypical patience and potentially walked away with two first-round blue chippers in QB Dwayne Haskins and OLB Montez Sweat. Maybe the only person who didn’t appreciate this draft was last year’s second rounder, injured RB Derrius Guice. But who can fault Washington for its new Bryce Love insurance policy? Even late picks like fifth-round C Ross Pierschbacher and sixth-round WR Kelvin Harmon could contribute early and often.
Standing firm even as owner Dan Snyder pushed for a trade up for Haskins and landing him anyway has to be considered a major win for Washington. Sweat at No. 26 was another monster addition, even if it cost the Skins their 2020 second-round pick to climb 20 slots. Not only is Sweat a freakshow athlete with dominant pass-rush potential, he was one of the SEC’s premier run defenders last year. The Redskins’ defensive personnel has quietly reached top-12 status across the league from a talent standpoint. McLaurin and Love had many pre-draft supporters, but I wasn’t a fan of either. McLaurin is likely to max out as a special teams gunner and situational deep threat, while Love’s ACL recovery has not been setback free, and he was rarely used in the passing game at Stanford. I thought there was a real chance Love might go undrafted. The middle-round offensive line picks both look like long-term backups. Holcomb’s college production and elite athleticism suggest he could outkick his draft slot at a position of need. Moreland was a takeaway-forcing machine at JMU, logging a school-record 18 career picks with six pick sixes. He’s a sleeper to develop into a playmaking slot corner. Harmon was publicly overrated in the pre-draft phase but well worthy of a flyer here. He may have the best hands in the draft. It’s probably just a tease because Washington will never win under Snyder’s ownership, but it would also be very difficult to not like this draft. About time for that Bruce Allen contract extension.
The fact that they did not have to move up to get Haskins was a major bonus. His arm is live and he has the ability to distribute the football to all parts of the field. Given the murky future of Alex Smith, finding Haskins waiting for them at No. 15 could prove to be franchise-changing. Finally, Washington traded up to grab Sweat, who will be a fine pass rusher if his heart condition does not prevent him from reaching his potential. They really needed depth at outside linebacker, where Sweat fits quite well. I am generally not enamored with giving up future second-round picks, but this guy’s talent is worthy of taking that sort of chance.
Haskins’ arm and McLaurin’s speed will team up to make big plays in Washington as they did in Columbus. If Love’s burst can return over the next year, Washington found a strong contributor in the run game. Martin and Pierschbacher fill a major need in the interior offensive line for the Redskins. Brailford is a pass rusher who was a value near the end of the draft.
That sound you hear is Jay Gruden’s seat sizzling. Washington went offense with five of its first six picks, including QB Dwayne Haskins with Pick 1 (15th overall). Gruden is an offensive wizard, and if that wizardry doesn’t make immediate magic, owner Dan Snyder (who some believe was behind the Haskins pick) could hastily declare that it’s the right time to bring in a fresh coaching staff. You can bet the possibility of this scenario has already unfolded in the back of Gruden’s mind. He knows that the pressure to play Haskins will begin with Case Keenum’s first interception—nay, Keenum’s first incompletion. Gruden also knows that Haskins is a project, needing refinement in his pocket poise and precision accuracy. It’s a tough spot for a coach, but such is life in the NFL.
Giving Haskins a familiar target like Terry McLaurin was wise. The addition of tailback Bryce Love in Round 4 makes you really wonder about the health of last year’s second-round pick Derrius Guice, whose rehab from last August’s torn ACL was reportedly delayed by an infection. Perhaps the Redskins, who have now drafted a running back nine years in a row, saw Love as simply great value considering he was taken before the team addressed its most immediate need, left guard. That was done by picking Wes Martin, who will compete with flamed-out ex-Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers. The more agile zone-blocker will get the job.
As for the one pick that did not go offense—Washington traded back into Round 1 to snatch pass rushing dynamo Montez Sweat, who fell because of a heart condition. The hope is Sweat will correct the defense’s deficiency off the right edge, where 2017 second-rounder Ryan Anderson has not developed and where veterans Preston Smith and Trent Murphy have been lost in free agency each of the last two years.