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April 30, 2019

NFC East 2019 draft grades: Washington edition

After focusing on the Philadelphia Eagles' draft since last Thursday, let's take a look around at the rest of the NFC East, one team at a time. We started this morning with the cellar-dwelling New York Giants. We'll continue on here with the Washington team.

• Pick 15: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: Washington waited for Haskins at pick 15, and their patience paid off, as they were able to add what will likely be their Week 1 starting quarterback, without having to move up.

Haskins has a sturdy build at 6'3, 231. He is a classic pocket quarterback with very good arm strength, but limited mobility. Because of his plus arm talent, Haskins is willing to take chances. Some view that as a negative. I don't. In time, he'll learn when to take shots and when to hold back, but early in his career on a team that isn't going to contend, let it rip.

A highlight reel: 

While Washington isn't exactly a model franchise, Haskins has a chance to succeed there. His receivers stink, for now, but he'll be playing behind a very good offensive line in an offense led by the underrated Jay Gruden.

• Pick 26: Montez Sweat, Edge, Mississippi State: Washington traded up with Indianapolis to get Sweat, moving from 46 to 26, with the cost being a 2020 second-round selection. I'm torn on whether that's a good deal or not. Washington has a chance to be really bad in 2019, and if their second-round pick in 2020 is somewhere in the 30's, Indy will be thrilled that they made this trade. Surely, that's the bet that the Colts are making here. 

That said, the value that Washington is getting in Sweat at pick 26 is very good. Sweat is a long and lean athletic freak of nature who had good production in college, impressed at the Senior Bowl, and then absolutely destroyed the Combine.

A highlight reel:

There is no question about his ability, but there were rumors that he could be drafted later than expected because of some character concerns, and that's exactly what happened.

After losing Preston Smith in free agency, Washington needed added presence on the edge, and Sweat will be an upgrade, in my view.

• Round 3, pick 76: Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State: Washington grabbed one of Haskins' teammates in the third round in McLaurin. At a minimum, McLaurin should be a special teams standout, and he's a fast (sub 4.4 40) receiver with some upside. 

Production is lacking, however. In four seasons at OSU, McLaurin had just 75 catches for 1,251 yards and 19 TDs. His best season was his senior year, when he had 35-701-11, and a YPC average of 20.0. They seem to be OK with speed guys who lack production, but have upside, as evidenced by their free agency acquisition of Paul Richardson. In this case, McLaurin will at least provide kick/punt coverage value, and he's a familiar face for Haskins.

Round 4, Pick 112: Bryce Love, RB, StanfordLove is a home run hitting running back with explosive speed who was an early Heisman candidate in 2017, when he racked up over 1,100 yards in just his first five games.

That season, he carried 263 times for 2,118 yards (8.1 YPC) and 19 TDs, while failing to rush for at least 100 yards in only one game. In 2018, Love's numbers plummeted, as he had 166 carries for 739 yards (4.5 YPC) and 6 TDs while playing through injuries. He also tore his ACL in his final collegiate game.

Love likely won't be ready for the 2019 season, and if he is, he may not possess the same speed he once had right away, which would make his rookie season a "redshirt" one. But certainly, Love has a high ceiling based on his extraordinary play in 2017. 

A highlight reel from that season: 

Washington isn't going to contend in 2019, and while the fourth round was maybe a little early, he is high upside guy for 2020 and beyond, and makes sense as a complement to what Washington hopes Derrius Guice will be.

Round 4, Pick 131: Wes Martin, OG, Indiana: Washington suffered an absurd number of injuries along their offensive line a season ago. Think Eagles cornerback carnage, but worse. As such, it makes sense for them to fortify the trenches in front of Haskins, on what is already a very good line, when healthy. Martin is a very strong (38 bench reps at 225) guard who lacks ideal athleticism. 

Round 5, Pick 153: Ross Pierschbacher, OG/C, Alabama: Pierschbacher has been a starter on Bama's offensive line since he was a freshman in 2015, who had 57 starts over his college career. In his first three seasons, Pierschbacher got experience starting at both guard spots, before taking over at center in 2018. He projects as versatile backup along the interior of the offensive line. And of course, no draft is complete without Washington taking a player from Alabama.

Round 5, Pick 173: Cole Holcomb, LB, North Carolina: Holcolmb is a 6'1, 231-pound linebacker who ran a 4.48 40 and had an 11' broad jump at his pro day. Deficiencies in the run game will probably keep him off the field early in his career, but he should help immediately on special teams.

•  Round 6, Pick 206: Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State: Harmon was productive over his three seasons at NC State, topping 1000 yards in each of the last two. While he ran a disappointing 4.6 (in addition to a lot of other ugly athletic measurables) at the Combine, Harmon has good size (6'2, 221), and has the ability to out-muscle smaller corners. He could be a contributor as a possession-type receiver when presented with favorable size matchups.

Round 7, Pick 227: Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison: Moreland is a scrappy, 5'10, 179-pound corner who had 18 career interceptions, six (!) of which he returned for TDs. There are some character concerns (he was arrested for larceny in 2015), but he is a playmaker who projects to the slot in the NFL. I'm surprised he lasted until the seventh round.

Round 7, Pick 253: Jordan Brailford, Edge, Oklahoma State: Brailford had 10 sacks in his final season at OK State, and posted good athletic measurables at the Combine. Again, he's probably only a special teams contributor initially if he makes the team, but this was good value for the second-to-last pick of the draft.

GRADE: Washington fans were really beginning to turn on this front office (like, more so than usual), with pleadings to "Fire Bruce Allen" popping up everywhere on social media. So what does Allen do? He goes out and has himself a hell of a draft in which Washington (a) added a bunch of good players, and (b) created hope for the fanbase with the selection of a potential franchise quarterback (we'll see). Washington fan base, your thoughts?

Anyway, their draft was widely praised, and I agree with the sentiment that they did really well. A-

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