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Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays

The 2019 NFL Draft is behind us, and now we will milk it for three months of content!

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
  1. A staple of college campuses going as far back as my own time on one was the ever-present credit card company sign-ups. I must have had a dozen free t-shirts for signing up for every credit card under the sun, because, you know, there is apparently a time in all of our lives when free t-shirts are worth way more than a future credit score. I bring this up because creditworthiness is a topic (in my head) today. I had quite the uphill climb to gain creditworthiness after a slug of years where I treated my credit score like a diaper. Similarly, the Washington Redskins have, over the years, displayed a willingness to sacrifice their future solvency for possible instant gratification. Worse, they would leap out front and claim credit for the results of just about anything they did—oftentimes before there were any results to take credit for (preseason marketing campaigns built on free agent signings and glitzy draft picks come to mind). We have taken the organization to task plenty over the years for this kind of behavior, so it is only fair that we extend at least some credit to the Redskins for what I think was pretty darn good draft. For those of you out there like me who have spent more time assuming the worst is about to happen (because Bruce Allen is attracted to awfulness like a fly is attracted to bright light), the last five days have been extraordinarily refreshing. Someone give Bruce and Danny a t-shirt!
  2. Perhaps better than most fanbases, Redskins fans have been taught over the years that maybe the name of the player shouldn’t be the focus of whether or not that player makes a good draft pick (or free agent signing). That doesn’t mean we don’t still fall prey to banking too heavily on one or two guys with zero downs played in a Redskins uniform, but we are learning. That leads me to a discussion about how the Redskins used that first pick. For my part, there was no player that I was desperately hoping the Redskins would draft at #15 this year, partly because of this. To me, the value of the #15 pick was ALWAYS wrapped up in the fact that whomever it was, he would be on a four-year contract worth approximately $14.5 million ($8-9 million in guarantees). This would ideally be a player that could spend the majority of that deal on the field making material contributions to our squad, and in so doing, return considerable value on that rookie contract. I had kind of settled on the position of need—EDGE—and had gotten a bit used to the idea that the Redskins would add a bona fide pass rusher they could underpay on a rookie deal. When the Redskins picked, both Montez Sweat and Brian Burns were on the board. Hearing the name Dwayne Haskins caused me more surprise than disappointment—after all, our boy JP Finlay was reporting on Thursday night that the Skins would be adding Josh Rosen the next day in the second round. I will admit to feeling disappointment though, as I could not visualize how Haskins was going to help us bring the opposing quarterback down. I NEVER hated on Haskins, and honestly, I had spent very little time since the end of the college football season imagining Haskins as a Redskin because it was widely believed he would be gone before our pick. I think that is an important distinction, and I think a lot of Redskins fans were more like me there, as opposed to the vocal segment of the fanbase that seemed to really just hate the idea of Dwayne Haskins. To me (and most of you), the real crime would have been trading up...period. How refreshing that the team and the majority of its fans agreed on the value of staying put to add a quality player instead of paying up to target a specific player? On the usage of the first-round pick, it would be difficult to suggest we didn’t ultimately go after a major need, even if it wasn’t a need I had ranked higher. So, on the “general usage” of the first pick, I have to say the Redskins did very, very well. Since the Redskins are spending a gargantuan portion of their salary cap on the quarterback position, the idea of a first-round quarterback on a four-year contract worth less than one year of Alex Smith is an extremely big deal. Many argue that the quarterback position is the most important position in all of professional sports (mostly because Giannis Antetokounmpo has no “true” position), so the idea of such a cheap option there is very enticing. I have spent the last few months being so excited about Colt McCoy and Case Keenum because of their pricetags...not because of the way they fill the back of a trading card.
  3. It might sound like I am going out of my way not to grade the choice of Dwayne Haskins on the actual player himself. That ain’t it at all. I’m simply building the case that before Dwayne Haskins even hits the field for the Redskins, his selection already has a lot of actual, real things going for it (as opposed to the made-up, fake things that so many of our previous additions have had). As for the player, he did record-setting things on the field of play in a Power 5 conference for a program that spits out NFL-ready talent on the regular. I would sign as many Ohio State players for four years and $14 million as I could. He has a chip on his shoulder because he went lower in the draft than everyone thought he would, so hopefully he wants to prove some people wrong. His skill set is more pro-ready than the other quarterbacks in this class because of the way he played from the pocket. Before I go too far down the X’s and O’s route though, I will simply defer to what seemed like a consensus opinion that Dwayne Haskins is a very worthy first-round NFL talent. If that is true—and I think it is—then Dwayne Haskins is a damn good-looking draft pick for the Redskins.
  4. The main reason why I am not hanging the overall grade/takeaway of the Redskins draft on the potential franchise quarterback is because it should rightfully hinge on the pick they made in the 26 slot. Trading back up into the bottom of the first round, the Redskins drafted one of the aforementioned EDGE guys—Montez Sweat—in an absolute genius-looking move. If you liked Sweat at four years/$14 million, you are going to LOVE him at four or five years and $12 million! We all kind of go into this knowing that there are some medical issues connected to Montez that caused him to plummet from the top of the first round to the bottom, but there is some real belief out there (outside of the Redskins front office) that this player is fine to play football at the highest level. Based on his collegiate exploits on the field, and the numbers he has posted in the buildup to the draft, Sweat was considered one of the top three or four EDGE rushers in an elite group of EDGE rushers. You want speed? We just added a guy as fast as Robert Griffin III to our defensive FRONT SEVEN!! Sweat’s size and strength are prototypical for the kind of modern-day pass rusher that teams drool over. He is going to look so good in a Redskins uniform on day one that he very well might make people forget about Haskins having to be a savior at the quarterback spot (also a big deal and a BIG help to Dwayne).
  5. I don’t intend to cover every draft pick in this post, but I do think that there are three other names to cover today before we rest our case that the Redskins had themselves a very solid draft. On the defensive side of the football, the Redskins added Landon Collins, Reuben Foster and Montez Sweat to their likely starting lineup. That is pretty freaking impressive. The offense came into the offseason needing some love as well, and the Redskins have been successful in adding youthful talent at skill positions. Next to the young quarterback, the addition of three offensive skill players stands to make an impact. It says here that both Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon will make the team and suit up on Sundays this season. McLaurin has elite speed and I am still trying to find someone out there who thinks his leadership and special teams abilities aren’t going to immediately benefit this team. Harmon was a receiver that a lot of folks wanted their team to take in the second-to-fourth rounds that the Redskins found in the sixth round. He is a sizable 6’3”, 220-lb player that knows how to catch the ball in traffic. As much as I would like to think there is no room at this inn for a sixth-round wideout, the fact of the matter is that every current Redskins wide receiver better be ready to compete hard this summer. I can’t see McLaurin and Harmon getting cut. The other offensive skill position drafted was running back. You may (or may not) recall that when we had Kevin Hogan on the show last year, I openly campaigned for his former Stanford teammate Bryce Love. Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson all have a pretty solid path to week one, but we should be very ready to hear the name Bryce Love get called. He is another player who fell in the draft partly because of injury, and should he be fully healthy this season, he can help make a difference in the ground game. We are no strangers to injuries at the running back position, so to think he is a luxury pick is a bit crazy to me. I think he will earn carries this season, and in so doing, he will help keep the other running backs healthy.
  6. The story of this draft to me is Montez Sweat. Should he be a healthy 6’6” monster in September, Dwayne Haskins is going to be the biggest beneficiary because Sweat is going to take up a lot of the oxygen in the room. You kind of expect a rookie quarterback to make costly mistakes, but a stud pass rusher can do his thing right...out...of...the gate. Of course we are all going to hope and pray that Haskins is an actual player that can prove himself at the pro level, but if Sweat can lay his thing down between the whistles, it stands to reason his impact will be a very meaningful one. If that is true, and our defensive identity is what leads this team, that is the best news a rookie quarterback could ever hear. I am very excited to see all of our rookies this summer, but the dynamic of that first round where the late pass rusher could end up benefiting the early quarterback is something to keep our eyes on...it could be a leading reason why Haskins ends up becoming a quality pro. He is perfectly capable of handling his business, but the less he is asked to be “the story of 2019” here in D.C., the better. And so, in the spirit of so many tables manned by t-shirt distributors on college campuses over the years, I would like to extend the Redskins some credit...for a job well done.