It’s impossible to accurately assess the quality of a team’s draft class before any of the players selected actually plays an NFL down, but that doesn’t stop pundits and fans from trying. Locally, I can’t recall a year in which both groups thought the Redskins made out better. Washington Post Express contributor Rick Snider, for instance, called Washington’s draft class “potentially the best” since the 1980s, while NBC Sports Washington’s Rich Tandler gave the Redskins an A for their efforts.
There was less agreement among national analysts as to how Washington’s draft went.
“This is a good class, especially at the top,” Kiper explained. “There was the biggest need filled with nose tackle Da’Ron Payne at No. 13. The Redskins had the worst rush defense in the league in 2017, surrendering 2,146 yards. And now Payne gets to partner up with a (hopefully) healthy Jonathan Allen, another Alabama defender who fell to Washington in Round 1 last year. … Then Washington upgraded its running game with Derrius Guice, my second-ranked back, who fell all the way to 59. Look, we don’t know the exact reason why he dropped — he has first-round talent — but clearly teams were scared off by some questions.”
Guice was the second- or third-ranked running back on most analysts’ boards before the draft, but he was the seventh running back taken after reports surfaced of an “altercation” the former LSU star had with members of the Philadelphia Eagles’ organization during a pre-draft interview. Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman told reporters Saturday that there was no altercation.
“We don’t know where everything came from,” Guice said Saturday. “It just kind of happened right as the draft went on. It’s just one of those things I can’t control.”
“First-round DL Da’Ron Payne is made to order for the league’s worst run defense, and fifth-round NT Tim Settle will also help,” wrote Davis, who graded only two teams (the Saints and Seahawks) worse than the Redskins. “In second-round RB Derrius Guice, Washington took a player who could add offensive rocket fuel … assuming concerns that apparently scared so many teams off prove unfounded. T Geron Christian and S Troy Apke are physically gifted but unlikely to contribute for some time.”
Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit was slightly more generous in his assessment, giving the Redskins a C+.
“In Round 2, Derrius Guice is an apparent risk,” Benoit wrote. “If it works out, he gives this backfield more talent than it’s had since Clinton Portis.”
That’s high praise for a team that has selected a running back in eight consecutive drafts.