The first selection could be relatively simple if the Redskins do what many expect and take Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young with the second overall pick. Rivera has said that players taken in the top five spots have to be “immediate impact guys,” and Young is widely considered to be the best player in the draft.
While Washington has received calls from teams looking to trade up to No. 2, a person with knowledge of the team’s plans said the Redskins would have to receive a huge haul — including as many as three first-round picks — to trade away the chance to choose Young.
But after the draft’s first half-hour, things get more complicated, which could be a challenge for Rivera and Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Neither has run a draft before, and while Rivera was heavily involved in the draft process in his nine seasons as Carolina Panthers coach, he didn’t make the picks or handle trade calls.
With star left tackle Trent Williams insisting he wants to be traded, Washington has been working to deal him in recent weeks. So far, the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets have shown the most interest, according to a person familiar with the discussions, but several factors have complicated the team’s ability to trade Williams, who has one year left on his contract. Prospective trade partners either haven’t been able to reach an agreement with Williams on a new deal, or they refuse to offer more than low-round draft picks in exchange for the seven-time Pro Bowl player.
The Redskins have been asking for a second-round pick for Williams, but they have said they will be willing to find a way to match that value with multiple later-round picks.
On Wednesday, the Redskins told Williams’s representatives they are no longer allowing him to negotiate with other teams, giving Washington control of any potential deal, a person with knowledge of the development said. It has long been expected that a trade involving Williams could come around draft time, but it’s unclear whether it would take place before the start of Thursday’s first round. Four or more offensive tackles could be picked in the first round, so it’s possible that interested teams might wait to see how the opening night plays out.
Trading Williams would leave Rivera with a hole to fill at left tackle in addition to the need for starters at wide receiver and tight end. While Rivera has acknowledged those gaps in the team’s roster, he has stayed away from saying he and Smith will simply pick players to fill those spots.
“It’s not just about being a great football player, but you’ve also got to be a guy that is part of the fit. Because a lot of times, all you go off of is their numbers [and] not off of their football ability, whether or not their football ability will transfer into fitting into your system or style of play,” he said in a recent virtual news conference. “You’ve got to be really smart and diligent about that.”
Because the Redskins don’t have a second-round pick in this draft after they dealt it to Indianapolis last year to move up and take edge rusher Montez Sweat, the pressure will be on Rivera and Smith to find middle- and lower-round players who can make an immediate impact — something Washington did well the past three years using Smith’s draft board.
“We’re going to find out just how good we are in terms of being able to evaluate,” Rivera said.
Sam Fortier contributed to this report.