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NFC East

Grading Washington’s 2020 Draft

With the 2020 NFL Draft wrapping up on Saturday evening soon to follow were the inevitable prognostications of each team’s decision. As is tradition draft season gives us diamonds in the rough, busts, GMs on the hot seat, and fan bases hopeful for a prosperous future. Along with these also come inexplicable draft grades only befitting a selection process based on hyper-specific metrics and game tape of years past. What will follow is a review of the Redskins’ 2020 draft class including but not limited to: the perceived successes, the missed opportunities, and most importantly the yet to be determined.

Round 1, No. 2 overall: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State| A

A collective sigh of relief best encapsulates this pick. Washington found themselves in a position to add a world-beater at defensive end who was widely regarded as the best prospect in the entire draft. Thankfully the front office did not get cute with their selection. Chase Young offers a transformative and dynamic element to an already talented defense. Both head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have coached elite edge rushers in their careers. Both believed that Young ticked all the boxes. With the addition of Young, Washington hopes to field one of the most formidable defensive fronts in the NFC East.

Round 3, No. 66 overall: Antonio Gibson, RB, Memphis| B

With no second round pick at their disposal, many hoped Washington would use their third round pick to shore up their needs at offensive line. For this reason alone is the selection of Antonio Gibson at No. 66 in question. In what could result as a landmark decision for Scott Turner’s offense, this pick symbolizes the implementation of an offensive scheme similar to what we saw in Carolina in the latter half of last season. As the quintessential utility offensive weapon, Gibson saw time as both a slot receiver and tail back at Memphis. There he showcased ability as a hard runner and instincts that could translate into a strong NFL career as a dynamic playmaker. Ron Rivera and Scott Turner see a comparison to Christian McAffrey. That alone should give Washington fans reason to commend this pick.

Round 4, No. 108 overall: Saahdiq Charles, OT, LSU| B-

Answering the need at offensive line, Washington selected the starting left tackle for the national champion LSU Tigers. Seen as more of a depth addition rather than having an instant impact, Charles gives Washington added versatility as he can also play guard. With good size at 6’4” 325lbs. Charles can prove himself to be a permanent fixture on the offensive line. There are concerns with technique as he as shown inconsistencies in both run and pass protection. If he is given adequate time to develop those traits, this can prove to be a sensible answer to one of the team’s biggest needs.

Round 4, No. 142 overall: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty| B+

Getting value in the latter rounds is paramount to team building. This is exactly what Washington did with the 142nd pick. Antonio Gandy-Golden enjoyed success at both the FCS and FBS levels with Liberty as he accounted for 2,483 yards and 20 touchdowns in his two years in Lynchburg. His ability to continue jaw-dropping production last year in FBS should quiet any criticism as it relates to quality of competition. Listed at 6’4” 223 lbs. Gandy-Golden is a big target at Haskins’ disposal and his clear-out ability can establish a good partnership with the speedy McLaurin. There is very little not to like about this pick. The only concern may be some mental adjustment to the quality of NFL corners. Combining great contested-catch skills and a formidable frame Gandy-Golden could be one of the steals of this year’s draft.

Round 5, No. 156 overall: Keith Ismael, C, San Diego State| C

There is a theme of ‘developmental depth’ in many of these selections. Ismael is an intriguing offensive line prospect as he is able to play both Center and Guard. Adding versatility to the interior line was an objective Washington set out to achieve in this draft. At the center position Ismael is explosive off the blocks but has shown struggles moving laterally as plays develop. Ismael comes from a family with a collegiate and professional football background. High character and an above average ceiling make him a solid pick for offensive line depth.

Round 5, No. 162 overall: Khaleke Hudson, OLB, Michigan| C-

Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio seems very interested in employing multiple looks with his scheme next year. Picking Khaleke Hudson at No. 162 isn’t as much a gamble as it is a sign of things to come for Washington’s defense, primarily in the second and third level. Hudson had a fantastic sophomore season with Michigan. Totaling 7.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles in 2017. Sadly Hudson could not replicate that production in the following two years with the Wolverines. Primarily used as an outside linebacker, Hudson also saw time as deep as safety. Touted as a hybrid player, Hudson gives Del Rio a few options in both coverage and in blitz packages. There are some questions with overall athleticism but those may be answered sooner rather than later. Best case scenario; Khaleke Hudson finds himself a niche in Del Rio’s scheme as a competent linebacker backup or a staple on special teams formations.

Round 7, No. 216 overall: Kamren Curl, S, Arkansas| C-

Positional versatility is displayed yet again with this pick. Kamren Curl is similar to Khaleke Hudson as both saw time split between safety and linebacker positions. Curl considers himself one of the most versatile coverage defenders in the draft. Originally Curl began his career at cornerback, which is what he attributes to refining his coverage skills. While not a burner at 4.6 in the 40-yard dash, his aforementioned aptitude in coverage could earn him a spot on the roster as a reserve safety.

Round 7, No. 229 overall: James Smith-Williams, DE, North Carolina State| B-

With their last selection the Redskins went back to the edge rusher pool. In an attempt to find real value in the seventh round they opted for the injury addled James Smith-Williams. With an imposing 6’4” 265lb. frame and physical tools to match, Washington hopes to develop Smith-Williams into a dependable reserve with a high ceiling. A multitude of injuries hampered much of his career at NC State, only seeing the field 29 games over his 4 years. There is hope that he can take time to develop and build upon a 4.6 40-yard dash speed which could truly devastate coming off the edge. With Ryan Kerrigan in the final year of his contract it is never too early to start looking towards the future in developing talent for the position. If he can stay healthy James Smith-Williams may be a celebrated 7th round gem.

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