With most around the league assuming the Cincinnati Bengals will take LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow with the first pick, Washington’s second choice becomes intriguing should other teams decide they must have Ohio State defensive end Chase Young (the presumed second selection) or Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Because none of those players are here this week — Burrow declined an invitation because he played in the national championship game last week, and Young and Tagovailoa are underclassmen — it’s the suggestion of those players’ ultimate roles in the draft that has loomed over the week.
The Redskins are expecting other teams to start asking about potential trades for the second pick, a person with knowledge of the situation said. This should not come as a surprise. Some teams already are talking openly about the possibility of moving up in the first round.
This week, Chris Grier, the general manager of the Miami Dolphins — who hold the fifth pick, desire a franchise quarterback and have three first-round selections — said his team has “more than enough” capital to move up for Tagovailoa should the team choose. Because Washington drafted a quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, in the first round of last year’s draft and traded this year’s second-round pick as part of the deal that allowed it to pick pass rusher Montez Sweat with the 26th pick last spring, Miami’s picks could appeal to a Redskins team in need of upgrades at several roster spots.
This year’s draft is heavy at positions Washington might want to improve. Jim Nagy, the Senior Bowl’s executive director and a longtime NFL scout, called this year’s wide receiver class “loaded,” and the draft has several appealing offensive tackles who could be selected early, including Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas.
With new leadership taking over in Washington, it’s possible that the Redskins could decide to use the No. 2 pick on a quarterback, possibly Tagovailoa (who suffered a serious hip injury in November). Just last year, the Arizona Cardinals drafted quarterback Kyler Murray first overall just a year after they took another passer, Josh Rosen, with their first-round pick. Under new coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals then traded Rosen to the Dolphins for a second-round pick and a 2020 fifth-round pick.
On Tuesday, Redskins Coach Ron Rivera and several of his assistants climbed into one of team owner Daniel Snyder’s private jets and flew here for meetings with Kyle Smith, the vice president of player personnel, and the team’s scouts. Although the new coaches are deep into analyzing last season’s game tapes, trying to assess the team they inherited, he also wanted the coaches to get out of the office for a day and build a bond with the scouts.
For many of the scouts, Tuesday was their first chance to meet Rivera, who has been put in charge of the team’s football operations. Rivera prowled the sidelines during practices, occasionally chatting with players such as Maryland safety Antoine Brooks Jr. and Evan Weaver, who, like Rivera, was a linebacker at California.
“He asked me my name and told me to keep working hard,” said Brooks, a second-team all-Big Ten player from Lanham. Brooks said he idolizes Sean Taylor, the late Redskins star safety, and considered Rivera’s interest to be “a good sign” that he had impressed the coach of his favorite team.
Later that day, the Redskins coaches flew home on Snyder’s jet, a luxury that many other teams do not have. For instance, the New York Giants’ new coach, Joe Judge, was crammed in the back of a tiny commuter jet with an assistant coach on a changeover from Houston earlier in the week.
But Washington’s biggest luxury is the pick it holds at the top of the draft, the one that will undoubtedly be a big part of teams’ trade discussions. Even the Bengals coaches and executives — whose staff is coaching the South team this week — have said they are keeping an open mind about the first pick.
“It’s the best position to be in because if you really want someone, you don’t have to fight to get him,” one Cincinnati coach said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the team’s thinking.
If the Bengals take Burrow, as everyone expects, the Redskins’ No. 2 pick becomes that “best position” — and that could be worth a lot to someone.
Redskins add to coaching staff
Washington added two more people to its coaching staff Wednesday, announcing the hires of assistant defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina and director of player performance Brett Nenaber.
Zgonina spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons coaching the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive line and previously held assistant defensive line positions with the New York Giants and Houston Texans. Nenaber is another familiar face for Rivera from Carolina. He spent the past five seasons as athletic performance analyst with the Panthers and will report to head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion, who held the same position in Carolina for 18 years.
Kareem Copeland contributed reporting from Washington.
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