January 17th marked the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft. There was a total of 115 underclassmen who declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. In 2019, that number was 135.
To substantiate the importance of this, 2019 saw 19 underclassmen selected in the first round of the draft, including 11 of the top 12 picks. There were 44 underclassmen who went undrafted.
The Redskins hold the number two overall pick in April, and while most are drooling at the opportunity to take Ohio St. superstar EDGE Chase Young, there is also the chance new head coach Ron Rivera and Kyle Smith decide to trade that pick and move back for more draft capital.
Regardless of the decision, it’s a safe bet to assume these underclassmen again dominate the first two rounds this spring.
Below are my top 12 underclassmen targets for the Redskins:
Chase Young EDGE Ohio St. (JR) 6’5” 265 (Top 5): In a relatively weak EDGE class, Chase Young is the lone star. Any team looking for an immediate difference make on defense should consider the Ohio St. junior, and as things currently stand, he’s the favorite to go number two overall to the Redskins.
Jeff Okudah CB Ohio St. (JR) 6’1” 200 (Top 5): Okudah is the top corner in the draft. He is the complete package as a boundary CB, and much like his Ohio St teammate, will be an immediate impact player on the back end. He would be an option for the Redskins if they were to trade out of the number two spot.
Isaiah Simmons LB/S Clemson (R-JR) 6’4” 230 (Top 10): Simmons is the Swiss Army knife of this draft class. He’s that new hybrid player defensive coordinators are salivating over. He can line up as an off-the-ball linebacker, safety, EDGE or even nickle corner. He would be an option for the Redskins if they were to trade out of the number two spot.
Andrew Thomas OT Georgia (JR) 6’5” 320 (top 10): Thomas is widely regarded as the best offensive tackle prospect in this draft, and maybe the best one we’ve seen in the past five seasons. He’s excellent in the run game, and has the feet to move with speed rushers off the edge. He would be an option for the Redskins if they were to trade out of the number two spot.
Mekhi Becton OT Louisville (JR) 6’7” 365 (RD1): Becton is a mountain of a man who reminds many of the great Jonathan Ogden. He has an amazing punch, a mean streak, and surprising light feet for a man his size. He would be an option for the Redskins if they were to trade out of the number two spot into the mid-to-late first round.
Tristan Wirfs OT Iowa (JR) 6’5” 322 (RD1): Wirfs will join a long list of Iowa offensive linemen to be drafted into the NFL. He’s an excellent athlete who is still a bit raw, but possesses all the necessary tools to be successful at the next level. He would be an option for the Redskins if they were to trade out of the number two spot into the mid-to-late first round.
Cole Kmet TE Notre Dame (JR) 6’5” 250 (RD 1-2): Kmet is probably the most complete tight end in this draft. He’s a very solid in-line option as both a blocker and receiver. He possesses enough athletic ability to be split out in the slot and can create mismatches against both linebackers and safeties. He could become an option if the Redskins were to trade back and acquire a later first or early second round pick.
Hunter Bryant TE Washington (JR) 6’2” 240 (RD2): Bryant is more like a jumbo wide receiver than a true in-line tight end, but don’t sleep on his blocking ability. He compares to a slightly slower Evan Engram, but has a better overall skill-set to make him a more complete tight end. The Redskins do not currently have a second round pick, but if they were to acquire one, Bryant would be a logical target.
Thaddeus Moss TE LSU (R-JR) 6’3” 250 (RD 2-3): Moss has the best hands and highest ceiling of any tight end in this draft class. He was a late addition to this list, but since his announcement, he’s been flying up draft boards. I expect his combine performance to land him in round two, and although the Redskins currently do not have a second round pick, Moss would be a target if they were to acquire one. If he slips into the third, the Redskins should pounce.
Kenneth Murray LB Oklahoma (JR) 6’2” 243 (RD 2-3): Murray is projected as a second round pick, and although the Redskins currently do not have a second, he would be a target if they were to acquire one. He totaled 102 tackles, four sacks and four passes defended. He’s not the playmaker Isaiah Simmons is, but he’s in that category.
Antoine Winfield Jr. S Minnesota (R-SO) 5’10” 205 (RD 2-3): Although smaller in stature, Winfield plays a big man’s game. The Minnesota sophomore, with NFL bloodlines, had an outstanding 2019 season, recording 85 total tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and seven interceptions(one returned for a touchdown). He would be a great selection in the early part of round three(if he lasts that long) for the Redskins.
Quintez Cephus WR Wisconsin (R-JR) 6’1” 208 (RD 3): Cephus quietly put together a very nice season in a run-oriented offense for the Badgers. He hauled in 59 receptions for 901 yards and seven touchdowns. He plays a lot more physical than his 6’1” 208 pound frame would suggest. He would be a nice day two pick for the Redskins.
Tu’a Tagovailoa QB Alabama (JR) 6’1” 218 (RD1): Tu’a makes this list not as a prospect for the Redskins, but rather as a pawn in a trade-back scenario. If healthy, there will be multiple teams who covet his skillset, and possibly more than one looking to move up to get him. With the Dolphins and Chargers sitting at number 5 and 6 respectively, someone may need to make a move to secure his services. This could benefit the Redskins greatly if they receive a haul of picks to drop back a few spots.
Others who were considered:
KJ Hamler WR PSU (R-SO) 5’9” 176 (RD 2-3)
Albert Okwuegbunam TE Missouri (R-JR) 6’5” 260 (RD 2-3)
Isaiah Wilson OT Georgia (R-SO) 6’7” 340 (RD 2-3)
Donovan Peoples-Jones WR Michigan (JR) 6’2” 210 (RD 2-3)
Tony Jones RB ND (R-JR) 5’11” 224 (RD 3-4)