The Redskins enter the NFL draft, which begins Thursday (8 p.m., ABC/ESPN), with a fistful of needs. The first-round pick could be a quarterback, edge rusher, receiver or even a tight end. Whatever major hole isn’t filled in the first round will be addressed in Friday’s second and third rounds. Then, on Saturday it will be all about adding depth. Washington has nine picks over the three days, including two selections in Rounds 3, 5 and 7 and none in Round 4 after trading that pick to Green Bay for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Here are predictions for the Redskins’ first choice in each round.
The Redskins really want a QB, but at No. 15 probably won’t have a viable choice after a likely early run at the position. Maybe that’s for the best because the newcomer wouldn’t have much to target. That’s why Washington should select Ole Miss receiver D.K. Metcalf. The Redskins lack a playmaker, especially a big one. The grandson of former St. Louis running back Terry Metcalf is 6-foot-3 with 4.33 speed. He’s a big downfield threat who comes with the caveat of two neck injuries in college. Essentially, this is a boom-or-bust pick that makes it a daring selection.
The Redskins can’t exit this draft without a quarterback, and North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley would be a good choice at No. 46. The part that most intrigues Washington is Finley’s game management, which seems to be the new buzzword for passers who can’t throw downfield. Finley is compared to Alex Smith with a little less mobility. Finley protects the ball well with few mistakes and can hit medium-range passes that the Redskins seem to love. He may be mechanical, but plays a smart game and knows how to bait safeties, which is unusual for a college passer. It’s a safe pick.
There’s still time to find a starting left guard, and Wisconsin’s Michael Deiter played tackle, guard and center in college. If nothing else, he provides needed depth. His best asset is his skill as a lead blocker on runs, especially when pulling to the opposite side. That’s critical for Washington, which will depend on its running game more than usual this season. Deiter isn’t as strong on pass blocking, but third-round picks come with shortcomings. He’ll benefit from the offseason weight program. If it’s not Deiter, Washington still should opt for a run blocker and slide the QB to the right in the pocket more.
It’s time to start thinking about life after tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. The veterans have two years, max, left and Washington needs to find a new target who gets upfield quickly. Stanford’s Kaden Smith isn’t much of a blocker and needs to mature physically, but he has decent hands and is capable of 50 catches per season. Not this season, but the Redskins can develop him for 2021 by improving his strength. Smith is reminiscent of Washington receiver Trey Quinn, with good hands and versatility despite modest overall expectations. He’s another player who needs a big offseason in the weight room.
The draft’s third day is all about depth and special teams. Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant would be a solid sixth-round selection for the Redskins while Toledo wide receiver Cody Thompson is a good flyer in the seventh. Bryant is a decent edge rusher, but could fall to late in the draft after playing too tall and off-balance. If he can learn to play lower, Bryant could earn some snaps in Washington. Thompson is a special-teams pick known for his speed and preparation. He could be a gunner on the outside of coverage units and a solid tackler. He could be an emergency quarterback and punter, too.
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