In 2019, Washington was deemed by Pro Football Focus to have “the most productive rookie class in the NFL.” While, at the time, their analysis (below) focused primarily on Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin, in the year since, Montez Sweat (EDGE), Cole Holcomb (LB), and Jimmy Moreland (CB) have all become key contributors as well. Wes Martin (G) remains on the roster as depth, while Bryce Love (RB) and Kelvin Harmon (WR) continue to recover from injury, and Ross Pierschbacher (C) and Jordan Brailford (EDGE) have been poached off the team’s practice squad.
Why they’re ranked here: The Redskins got average quarterback play from Dwayne Haskins after he took over as the starter in Week 9 and an outstanding performance from third-round receiver Terry McLaurin. Play like that from two of the most valuable positions in the NFL will go a long way toward making a top draft class.
How their top pick fared: Haskins (No. 15 overall) got off to a rough start to his career with two shaky performances off the bench, but he rebounded with a 73.4 PFF grade (12th among quarterbacks) after taking over as the starter in Week 9.
Best value pick: McLaurin (No. 76 overall) was a revelation in 2019. His 86.5 receiving grade not only led all rookie wide receivers this season, but it was the highest mark since Odell Beckham Jr.’s in 2014.
Given recent, detailed revelations that the newly waived Haskins was drafted over the strenuous objections of personnel staff and scouts, at the owner’s behest, one can only imagine what the class might look like if Sweat had been taken at #15, and a player like AJ Brown, DK Metcalf, or Erik McCoy had been taken with Washington’s second round pick that was traded away to the Colts (with 2020’s second rounder) to move up for Sweat at #26.
Lest we forget the debacle that brought us the only 2019 draft bust:
[Kyle] Smith started to ask questions on what the choice was going to be. Sources described to us a tense silence. Smith asked the room specifically: Is the organization really thinking of taking Haskins?
At that point, one voice chimed in. It was the owner’s voice, confirming that Haskins was going to be the choice.
After the selection was made and Haskins was announced as the draft choice, Smith continued on.
“More silence ensued in the moments around the pick and with the pick made, Smith pushed himself up from the table and unloaded on the room - a speech that was described as “fiery and passionate’’ about the pick and how much he disagreed with the selection,” according to [Chris] Russell.
PFF has yet to announce it’s 2020 “most productive draft class,” but they just listed their 2020 ranking of the top 25 rookies in the league. The Washington Football Team was the only team in the league to have more than two entrants: Chase Young (#2), Kamren Curl (#11), and Antonio Gibson (#13), and those three players were in the top half of the group.
Given the top performance of these three players, two of whom made the PFF All-Rookie Team, as well as the fact that Khaleke Hudson (LB) and James Smith-Williams (EDGE) were substantial contributors this year, it’s entirely reasonable to expect that the 2020 draft class could receive similar recognition to last year’s, which would be an incredible achievement.
It’s often said that the draft is a bit of a crapshoot, and that in any given year drafting success is likely be fairly evenly distributed, so to have back to back top five, and, potentially, top 1, draft classes, is astonishing. It suggests that the team’s scouting corps is doing an amazing job identifying talent, and that they are working well with the coaching staff to ensure scheme fit and a match with the team culture.
Thankfully, we haven’t arrived at the off-season yet, but when we do, it’s going to be incumbent on Coach Rivera to recognize the talent that he has in-house, and do what he can to keep that group happy so that Washington’s highly productive youth pipeline can continue to fuel the team’s long-term success.
What do you think of the WFT’s 2020 draft class?
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Top in the league.
Top 5 in the league.
I like to eat paste.