Expert Analysis


4 min min read

On the Clock: Washington Football Team

After a tumultuous offseason, the Washington Football Team was able to defy preseason expectations to take home the NFC East division crown for the 2020 NFL season. Despite finishing with a 7-9 record—Washington was the third team since 2010 to win its division with a sub-.500 record—the Football Team finished with one of the better defenses in all of the NFL, headlined by rookie sensation Chase Young. Even though Washington is showing a lot of potential for the future under Ron Rivera, there are still some spots that can be improved in this year’s draft. Washington currently holds the 19th overall pick and will be tasked with finding more key players for the holes on this roster.

Here is some quick history. The following are the last five years’ worth of first-round picks for the Washington Football Team:

  • 2020: Chase Young (DE)
  • 2019: Dwayne Haskins (QB), Montez Sweat (DE)
  • 2018: Daron Payne (DT)
  • 2017: Jonathan Allen (DE)
  • 2016: Josh Doctson (WR)

This year’s No. 19 pick will be the lowest Washington has picked since 2016, when they held the 22nd pick in the draft.

The Washington Football Team currently ranks sixth in the league in available cap space for 2021 with around $32.3 million available, per Spotrac. Washington could free even more cap space up by cutting or trading these players (age in parentheses):

  • Alex Smith (36)
  • Landon Collins (27)
  • Matt Ioannidis (27)

Despite having a lower pick than in recent years, Washington will have to shore up some parts of the defense and get more explosive on the offensive side of the ball. Here are some of the avenues the Washington Football Team could travel through the draft:

Possibility #1: Florida WR Kadarius Toney

2020 stat line: 11 games, 70 REC, 984 YDS, 14.1 YPC, 10 TDS

Why: By this point in the draft, the top wide receiver prospects like DeVonta Smith, Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle should be off the board. Enter Kadarius Toney. The Florida Gator wideout had a breakout campaign in 2020, as he was tasked with replacing Van Jefferson. Before 2020, Toney’s most receiving yards in a single season were 260 yards in his sophomore campaign. This past season, he, along with tight end Kyle Pitts, made Florida one of the premier offenses in the country. He is a very shifty receiver who has incredible after-the-catch ability.

Outside of Terry McLaurin, Washington struggled to find another receiver who could step up in critical situations when the former Buckeye was taken out of the game. Cam Sims and Steven Sims Jr. were solid options towards the end of the year, but they are not long-term solutions on offense. Toney and McLaurin could cause some matchup nightmares with their premier speed and allow Washington be less conservative on offense than they were this past year.

Possibility #2: Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley

2019 Stats: 20 total tackles, 14 solo tackles, 4 INTS, 12 PDS, 1 TD

Why: Farley could very well be gone by this point, but it is also very possible that he slides, since he opted out of the 2020 season. With teams having only two years of tape on Farley, he could potentially not go as high as originally anticipated. Regardless, Farley has still shown he is capable of being a rangy corner with some great speed for the position. Furthermore, at 6-2, Farley would immediately step in as Washington’s biggest corner.

While corner is not a primary position of need for Washington, it could be a route that the franchise takes due to the fact that Ronald Darby is a free agent and could leave for more money after his solid 2020 campaign. With how well Tampa passed the ball against Washington in the wild card round, it is clear Washington’s secondary still has some holes. Farley would be able to step in right away to play on one of the up-and-coming defenses in the NFL, and he would have a great corner to play with in Kendall Fuller.

Possibility #3: North Dakota State QB Trey Lance

2019 Stats: 2,786 YDS, 66.9 CMP %, 28 TDS, 0 INTS, 169 CAR, 1,100 YDS, 14 TDS

Why: Trey Lance did play one game in 2020, but that was more of a showcase game than what Lance was fully capable of in 2019, when he had 42 total touchdowns and no interceptions. Lance is an incredibly mobile QB who will be able to make a lot of plays when the blocking breaks down. His passing game still needs some work, but Lance won’t have to step in right away for Washington with Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke still being on the roster.

Washington will need a new QB at some point despite how gutsy of a game Heinicke had against Tampa Bay in the wild card round. Ron Rivera has worked with mobile QBs for a good chunk of his time as a head coach, and Lance should provide a lot of similar traits to former Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton. Having a more mobile QB would also make Washington’s offense less predictable, as was evidenced in that wild card game when Heinicke played. As mentioned earlier, Lance will have time to develop, and Washington has some very good pieces to provide to a young quarterback.

Possibility #4: Texas OT Samuel Cosmi

2020 Facts: Led the team in total first down/touchdown blocks (25), total knockdown blocks (28) and total intimidation/dominant blocks (12) and entering his final game had only allowed one QB hit, one tackle for loss and one sack (from Texas’ team page)

Whichever direction Washington goes with a quarterback, the Football Team is going to need somebody who can protect him. Washington’s offensive line was less than stellar in pass-blocking, as it was third in the league in sacks given up in 2020 with 50. This had a lot to do with Washington’s conservative play-calling in a lot of games this season.

With Cosmi, Washington would be getting another huge tackle—Cosmi is currently listed as 6-7, 309 pounds—who is a very dominant blocker in the open field, as evidenced by some of Texas’ huge offensive outputs this past season. Texas had one of its best run games in years, and Cosmi had a lot to do with that. With Morgan Moses being 29 years old, it could be time for Washington to get younger and cheaper at the right tackle position in order to help its new franchise QB, whoever that may be.

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