You will have to excuse me if I confuse you by not using the official team “name” for the organization in Old D.C., but I find it racist and offensive. And even though I respect the heritage and records of that team, I reject the acceptance of their nickname. So let’s take a look at the Draft in Washington and see if JAY GRUDEN has enough new ammunition to get the team back on the winning side of the ledger, and perhaps the Play-Offs.
The team ended up with 8 new Draftees and started with a bang that had some familiarity to it. For the second year in a row the ‘Skins selected a DL from Alabama in Round 1, this year by the name of DA’RON PAYNE. PAYNE is an athletic bruiser, with above average mobility for a big man. At 6’2/311 he might fit quite nicely right next to his former teammate JONATHAN ALLEN, who missed most of last season to injury. If you wonder how good he can be go watch some video of his play in the two FBS Play-Off games that led the Crimson Tide to the National Championship. He dominated at and behind the line-of-scrimmage stuffing the running game, collapsing the pocket, deflecting passes and even scoring a TD. He should be a multiple time Pro Bowler and immediate starter.
The team took a gamble on greatness in Round 2 selecting LSU RB/DERRIUS GUICE. There are some off-field issues to sort through and correct, but on the field for game day he’s a hard charging, explosive power back with some extra zip to his game. At 5’10/222 he will do most of his work between the tackles, but his 4.52 speed allows him to get to the edge and break some long runs. He shows excellent balance and is tough to bring down in the open field. He reminds me of another tough guy who toted the ball for this franchise by the name of CLINTON PORTIS. He has shown good hands and will be able to stay on the field as a receiving threat if needed. He gets dinged up in good part because of his rugged running style, but with a little luck he may dominate for 5-6 seasons. Very good value Pick at 59. He and PERINE could be a very punishing tag-team for defenses to face, at about 30-plus carries a game between them.
In Round 3, the team grabbed a rising star in GERON CHRISTIAN/OT/Louisville. The 6’5/298 lb. big guy has run and pass blocking skill after leading the charge for multiple talented QB LAMAR JACKSON the past 3 seasons. He has great length with 35″ arms and 10 3/4″ hands. He lost some weight at Performance Camp in January and showed up just under 300 lbs. at the Combine. The team is hoping that they have gotten themselves the next TRENT WILLIAMS. CHRISTIAN will get a chance to battle MORGAN MOSES at the RT position for now, and take over out at LT when WILLIAMS wears out and retires, which unfortunately may not be too long from now. GERON may have the luxury of a couple of seasons as a back-up to improve his skills. Third Top 100 Pick and third potential starter. That is how the Draft is supposed to play out.
Now I start to have some questions about some of their selections in this Draft. And we’ll start right away in Round 4, at Pick 109 with TROY APKE/FS/PENN STATE. This guy made a lot of money for himself in the post-season in January and Feb. First he showed well at the NFLPA Game including a victory sealing INT late in the contest. Then he ran his way to the forefront at the Combine, when he came out with the secondary group and blazed a 4.37/40-time, that even got DEION SANDERS attention as an NFLN commentator. I believe that the bottom line for right now is that APKE is a superior athlete, who still is raw as a DB. So the question becomes can they make him into a pro S or will he stick around as a fast, hustling Special Teams player ala JEFF JANIS, who the Packers just gave up on as a WR candidate? Time will tell and he certainly has the desire to succeed to go with his athleticism. But this Pick looks way too early to me.
Wisely, the team stuck with the defensive scheme of things and got very good value, IMO, with the selection of TIM SETTLE/DT/VA TECH at Pick 163. He was a dominant player at times in college, but lost some favor with NFL scouts because of his seeming lack of conditioning and a raw skill level. This kid could star inside if he is willing to accept coaching and put it to use as a player. He must also get into better shape physically. Luckily, the team has an excellent DL Coach in JIM TOMSULA who will both tutor him and push him. SETTLE weighed 329 at the Combine and ran a 5.35/40, which isn’t too bad, but nothing special. I think this guy does have some special qualities, but has got to get more serious about football as a business. TOMSULA will earn his entire salary, and a bonus, if he can turn the right switches with this young man. A true boom/bust prospect. IF ALLEN returns healthy from injury and both PAYNE and SETTLE earn jobs in their top 6 DL rotation it will be a major upgrade up front for the Defense.
In Round 6, at Pick 197 the team took a flyer on a good athlete, and good football player, who just couldn’t stay healthy at Alabama. Most of the time it was lower body issues that sidelined him. The ‘Skins have to hope that their training/conditioning staff can design a regimen that will allow SHAUN DION HAMILTON/ILB to stay out on the field where he can contribute in multiple ways. At 6’0/228 he is a bit undersized, but shows suddenness and good instincts to the ball. He might have been a 4th Rounder with a better health record. He could star on Special Teams.
The team did really well IMO in Round 7, as the Draft was winding down. At Pick 241 they selected multi-talented GREG STROMAN/CB/RS/VA TECH. STROMAN is a bit light, with a smallish frame at 5’11/180#. But he has excellent quickness, which can make up for his lack of outright speed at times. He will likely find his way onto multiple sub-package groupings as well as doing some Punt return work. In 2017 he averaged over 10-yards per return including 2 TD. He also seems to track the ball really well and will frustrate receivers in press-cover.
The team had Pick 256, the last in this Draft, and therefore were selecting Mr. Irrelevant as Saturday ended. But they got a receiver who is a very good athlete and I expect will make the team as their 5th or 6th wideout; TREY QUINN/WR/SMU. QUINN was another ex-HS QB, with strong 10 1/8″ hands. QUINN only ran a 4.56/40, but he plays faster than that and has a knack for gaining yards-after-catch. I would suspect this young man will make the roster and his coaches will find multiple ways to use him at he bottom end of their roster initially. QUINN is as good as any 7th Round Pick in this Draft for my money.
I like the fact that they got help all across the board with this group. I might also add that the team did it’s usual solid job of signing an interesting group of URFA. I can see 3-4 of those signings making their roster to augment the drafted Rookie class. That would be a good thing because the ‘SKINS parted ways with 15 plus veterans primarily for Salary Cap reasons this off-season. Watch for this team to have one of the most competitive Training Camps in the NFL this summer.