Growing up in Indianapolis, Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin imagined himself as another version of former Washington Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson. Then, Friday night, in the third round of the NFL draft, the Redskins called, making him their selection at No. 76 overall.
It was a memory that struck him a few minutes after the choice was announced as he spoke on a conference call with reporters.
“I kind of hesitated,” he said after revealing his Jackson affection, realizing the comparison that Redskins fans will try to make with one of the league’s top deep threats, who now plays for division rival Philadelphia. “I’m not here to be DeSean Jackson. I’m just trying to be Terry McLaurin."
The Redskins traded their second third-round pick Friday night, sending the 96th selection to the Buffalo Bills for the 112th pick and the 131st pick. Washington did not have any fourth-round picks when the night began, but now it will make two when the draft resumes Saturday afternoon. The Redskins also will take two fifth-round picks, a sixth-round pick and two seventh-round picks into Saturday.
On Thursday, the Redskins took care of their most pressing need by drafting Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the 15th pick. Then, an hour later, they traded their second-round choice along with next year’s second-round selection to the Indianapolis Colts to move back into the first round and take Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat with the 26th pick.
Although both players fell further than expected, many believed Washington had a productive first day despite the fact it traded out of the second round and didn’t have a pick to make until late in the second night.
McLaurin said he had texted with Haskins on Thursday night not long after the Redskins picked Haskins to be the team’s quarterback of the future. Haskins told his college teammate he would “push them to draft me.”
“I didn’t put much mind to it,” McLaurin said with a chuckle.
The Redskins need more playmakers on offense, and McLaurin is a solid receiver who can do a number of different things. At 6 foot he has decent size but isn’t the biggest pass catcher, but he ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine in February and adds speed to an offense that desperately needs to be more dynamic.
“He’s a very explosive player. He can run. He can do a little bit of everything — inside, outside,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said. “He gives us another added dimension with the great speed and toughness that he brings to the table in the run game and obviously the vertical passing game.”
Gruden said he sees playing McLaurin on the outside to start but will move him around to different receiver spots.
“He’s a very smart, intelligent player [who] works extremely hard,” Gruden said.
Gruden has said he wants to see the team get faster on offense and defense. With McLaurin and Sweat they have added two of the quicker players at their positions in the draft.
McLaurin got better each year he was at Ohio State, going from 11 catches his sophomore year to 29 as a junior to 35 this past fall. His yardage totals also grew from 114 to 336 to 701 his senior season. He also had 11 touchdown catches as a senior and 19 for his career.
When asked what kind of wideout he considers himself to be, McLaurin said he is someone who can “get the deep ball” and “take the top off of a defense.”
Paul Richardson Jr. had been the only deep threat in the Redskins’ offense. Richardson battled injuries last year, finally undergoing shoulder surgery in the middle of the season. But Washington also needs to add to a rotation that has Josh Doctson and Trey Quinn, who showed glimpses of filling the slot receiver role opened when Jamison Crowder signed with the New York Jets in free agency. McLaurin adds much-needed depth.
He also played special teams at Ohio State, and many draft analysts considered him to be among the top special teams players in the draft. Gruden said the team considered him the best.
Sweat flew to Washington late Friday afternoon and arrived at the team’s facility not long before the second round started. He and Haskins are scheduled to be introduced at a news conference Saturday morning.