The first round of the 2018 NFL draft lined up in a straightforward way for the Washington Redskins: The league’s worst run defense took the best run-stopper in the draft, Alabama’s Daron Payne, with the 13th pick.
The 2019 first round, now less than three weeks away, doesn’t appear as though it will be as clear-cut.
A second straight 7-9 finish leaves the Redskins in a draft purgatory of sorts, with the No. 15 pick and needs at quarterback, edge rusher, wide receiver, guard and in the secondary. The selection isn’t early enough to be guaranteed of a top passer, or the consensus top prospect at any of those positions.
In an attempt to gain some clarity on the scenarios the team is likely to face during the first round April 25, we are looking at a few head-to-head prospect comparisons. Our first pairing pits Missouri quarterback Drew Lock against Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns.
The case for Lock
Lock is a possibility for the Redskins at No. 15; he is considered the second- or third-best quarterback prospect in the class, behind Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray — who is expected to go first to the Arizona Cardinals — and possibly Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. Lock could be drafted as early as the top 10, but many analysts have identified him as an option for Washington.
The 6-foot-3, 223-pounder ranks second in SEC history with 12,193 passing yards, and his 99 touchdown passes rank third all-time. Lock led the nation with 44 touchdown passes in 2017. Consistency and accuracy, however, were issues during his college career.
“There’s really still not the consensus on Lock, in terms of everybody saying he’s going to be a top-10 guy guaranteed,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “I gave him 13 to Miami. You always hear about Denver. … If Washington doesn’t move up to get Haskins, would Washington, knowing that teams at 10, 11, 13 could take Lock, would Washington at 15 move up ahead of those teams, get up in that 7, 8, 9 range and take Lock there if they can’t go up and get Haskins?”
Lock said his mobility separates him from other quarterbacks in the draft. Murray is elite when it comes to running ability and athleticism, but Haskins and potential first-rounder Daniel Jones of Duke are pocket passers.
“I’m not just the typical guy that’s going to stand in there and take shots,” Lock said. “I want to be able to get out of the pocket when the pocket breaks down. I’m going to be a little more athletic. . . . I’m excited to be able to show that to people.”
The case for Burns
Burns falls into the second tier of edge rushers behind Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, Kentucky’s Josh Allen, Michigan’s Rashan Gary and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat, who are thought to be potential top-10 picks. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah ranked the 6-5, 249-pound Seminole the No. 6 edge rusher behind those four and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell. Burns posted 23 sacks and 38.5 tackles for loss in three seasons, including 10 sacks in his final year.
“The bend off the edge, he’s phenomenal,” Kiper said. “He’s got the ability. He’s up to 250 [pounds] now. He’s almost 6-4½, 6-5. Ran 4.53 [seconds in the 40-yard dash]. He tested well. He looks so athletic going through the drills. Just a smooth, athletic kid. He kind of gets that bend like [2017 No. 1 pick] Myles Garrett does off the edge. The power and the pass rushing, needs to blend in a little bit of that and be stronger at the point. . . . And I thought for the Redskins opposite [Ryan] Kerrigan, he would give them what they need, assuming they don’t get the quarterback.”
This is a tough selection to make in a vacuum, given the uncertainty of Washington’s quarterback situation since Alex Smith suffered his devastating leg injury last season. One solution for the Redskins’ quarterback woes could be swinging a trade with the Cardinals for Josh Rosen, the No. 10 pick in last year’s draft, who would be displaced if Arizona picks Murray. Such a move would take away the Redskins’ need for a young quarterback and likely take Lock out of the equation.
But if that move doesn’t come to fruition, Washington would be left to choose between a somewhat high-risk quarterback and a talented prospect at a need position who carries with him some question marks as well.
NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly, who was the Redskins’ general manager when the organization won its most recent Super Bowl in 1992, said he believes Haskins is the ideal pick for Washington if it can trade up or the quarterback falls. But given the options presented in this scenario, Casserly said he would select Burns over Lock.
“I think 15 is rich for both of them, but I would take Burns,” Casserly said. “I think he’s a heck of a pass rusher. I think he’s explosive off the outside. I like Lock — just not 100 percent sold on him.”
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