by Aaron Jaffe ’21
The 2017-18 season for the Washington Redskins didn’t go as well as many would have wanted. Finishing with a 7-9 record and placing third in the NFC East division, the organization had a critical offseason awaiting to try and set the team in the right direction.
In free agency, the team remained conservative by staying with a couple in-house players and signing a few smaller-name players. For the fans who don’t understand why the Skins wouldn’t go after the big time-big name players, it was all part of the organizations plan. With decent draft capital(number of picks) in the NFL Draft, the Skins were showing they picked a path. The uncertainty of Kirk Cousins has moved to Minnesota and the team finally has stability at the quarterback (thank you Alex Smith). This allowing them to focus on the defense.
Building through the draft is risky but is very cost-effective and gives a higher reward. Holding the 13th overall selection has great value but also not to forget, the Skins own picks in the second, third (after a trade with the 49ers), fourth, fifth, sixth and two seventh rounders the team was keen on getting a lockdown run-stopping defense simply because the team ranked last in run defense in the entire NFL.
The three-day process than can change the future for any organization took place at the home of the Dallas Cowboys (that lasted from April 26-28). The day opened just after 8pm, and officially started when the Cleveland Browns took Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first overall selection. After that, the run on quarterbacks went, leaving many elite defense prospects on the board for the Redskins. Florida State safety Derwin James, who many see as the next coming of the legendary safety Sean Taylor– ironically enough, played for the Skins– was available at the 13th pick. The team had one goal and that was to stop the run. So they went with defensive tackle from Alabama Da’ron Payne. With the value the 13th pick holds, a trade down to gain more picks was in play but Washington took no chances and got their guy.
In the second round, the Redskins decided to send their pick and a fifth rounder to the 49ers for their second third rounder. The Redskins felt comfortable enough to trade down and still be able to get who they wanted, while regaining a third round pick after they traded their own away in the Alex Smith deal. This ended up being a huge move as they landed LSU running back Derrius Guice with the 59th pick. Guice was seen as a first-round talent who had a bad combine that led to his fall in the draft. There were various reports saying teams felt he was immature but then other reports had Guice saying that teams asked him if he was gay or if his mom was a prostitute. Guice later privately admitted that it didn’t happen, making the situation even weirder. For the athletic display he put on, he was a sure steal for the Skins and another hole addressed for the team, who hasn’t had an 1,000 yard rusher in a season since Alfred Morris did so in 2015.
Washington then selected Louisville offensive tackle Geron Christian in the third, Penn State safety Troy Apke in the fourth, Virginia Tech defensive tackle Tim Settle in the fifth, Alabama linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton in the sixth, Virginia Tech corner Greg Stroman and SMU wide receiver Trey Quinn aka Mr irrelevant in the draft (the last pick in the entire draft) both in the seventh round.. For the undrafted players, Indiana wide receiver Simmie Cobbs and Virginia safety Quin Blanding headline the small group. All these picks had great value and surprisingly enough the team did very well in the draft. The picks addressed a great job of addressing the team’s needs and adding high potential while also contributing depth in their respective positions. Will they lead the Skins to a division title or a playoff berth? With a reborn defense and a new quarterback at the helm, and of course finding a way to avoid the injury bug that killed them last year, expect Washington to be a sure-fire contender.