The Washington Redskins enter the 2017 NFL Draft with 10 overall selections, including the 17th overall pick in Thursday’s first round. Here are four things to know about the draft -- and the Redskins' situation before the three-day event begins.
What is their biggest need?
Defensive line. Washington ranked 28th in defense last year in large part because of limitations up front. At best this unit broke even with the offseason additions (Terrell McClain, Stacy McGee) offsetting two key subtractions (Chris Baker, Ricky Jean Francois). And, on paper, that’s not nearly enough for real improvement.
Problem: There aren’t any lineman projected in the range of the Redskins’ first round pick and this isn’t a particularly good deep crop overall.
The good news is there are several other need areas – inside linebacker, edge rusher, cornerback, safety, guard – where they can find help throughout the draft.
How did free agency affect their situation entering the draft?
Honestly, not much. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor and inside linebacker Zach Brown will bolster their respective units this season, but both only signed 1-year deal. That’s why speed receiver John Ross and ILB Haason Reddick are names worth considering at 17.
Neither McGee nor McClain play nose tackle, a major weakness last season. Neither does Michigan’s Chris Wormley, but the hard-working and productive lineman would upgrade the talent level on Day 2. Safety D.J. Swearinger might be the best safety on the roster in a couple of seasons, but the Redskins shouldn’t be shy about adding more help on Day 2 like Utah’s Marcus Williams.
What about the quarterback situation?
Here we are: NFL Draft week and there’s seemingly no progress in agreeing on a long-term contract with Kirk Cousins.
At this point, all we know is that Cousins is slated to play the 2017 season on the franchise tag that will pay him just shy of $25 million. Not bad. The thing is, if there’s no extension signed by July 15, then negotiation time is over.
Though the Redskins can slap the franchise tag on Cousins for a third time next year, the salary increase would make it seemingly impossible or at least unwise for that to occur. That makes Cousins in leaving in free agency – with Washington receiving minimal compensation – the odds-on favorite.
As for the 2017 draft, the Redskins could hedge their future by selecting a passer in the early rounds – Deshaun Watson? Pat Mahomes? Nate Peterman? -- or take a flyer on Day 3. If they actually go QB in round 1 AND keep Cousins, hang on for a wild 2017 season.
Who will they draft in the first round?
Crystal ball time. This draft is the toughest to predict in recent years due to various factors – injuries, off-the-field issues, grading the quarterbacks, lack of stud offensive linemen.
Some aren’t convinced the first pick is obvious, though Texas A&M’s pass rusher Myles Garrett is the likely call. If Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster falls to 17 because of his injury and temperament concerns, the Redskins should make a bold move that would provide their defense with a needed inside presence.
Otherwise, UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley would offer pass rushing presence for a team facing dealing with Trent Murphy’s four-game suspension, Preston Smith coming off a down sophomore season and Junior Galette hoping to play after missing two consecutive years with Achilles injuries.
Washington Redskins picks:
Round 1, Pick 17, 17th overall
Round 2, Pick 17, 49th overall
Round 3, Pick 17, 81th overall
Round 4, Pick 7, 114th overall, via Jets
Round 4, Pick 17, 124th overall
Round 5, Pick 10, 154th overall, via Saints
Round 6, Pick 17, 201th overall
Round 6, Pick 25, 209th overall, via Texans
Round 7, Pick 2, 220th overall, via 49ers
Round 7, Pick 17, 235th overall
Ben Standig talks Wizards daily on the Locked on Wizards podcast and is the Redskins Insider for BreakingBurgundy.com. He tweets way too much via @benstandig.