Given the months and months of build-up to the annual NFL draft, the rush to summarize a team’s rookie draft class in a few sentences and stamp a letter grade on it has never quite made much sense to me.
In the past, I’ve compared this process to patrons at a restaurant complimenting (or complaining to) the chef based on the menu, rather than waiting to actually taste the food.
In much this same way, it obviously takes time to properly evaluate a draft. Given all of the complexities of the 2020 NFL draft, specifically, this is especially true.
So, while we cannot skip years ahead to know for certain which players will ultimately exceed or fail to live up to expectations in the NFL, we can provide a much deeper dive into each team’s rookie class.
Therefore, over the next 31 days, NFLDraftScout.com will be providing a detailed breakdown of each of the NFL teams’ rookie hauls, following the original draft order. Each team will be evaluated on the quality, quantity and relative safety of their draft classes (including undrafted free agents), with specific players recognized as Best Player, Best Value and Best Project, culminating in one “final” grade.
Today’s team: Washington Redskins
Head Coach: Ron Rivera
General Manager: Kyle Smith (technically listed as Vice President of Player Personnel)
Players selected in 2020:
Round 1, Pick 2 overall: DE Chase Young, Ohio State
Round 3, Pick 66 overall: RB Antonio Gibson, Memphis
Round 4, Pick 108 overall: OT Saahdiq Charles, LSU
Round 4, Pick 142 overall: WR Antonio Gandy-Golden, Liberty
Round 5, Pick 156 overall: C Keith Ismael, San Diego State
Round 5, Pick 162 overall: LB Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
Round 7, Pick 216 overall: S Kamren Curl, Arkansas
Round 7, Pick 215 overall: DE James Smith-Williams, North Carolina State
Undrafted Free Agents:
Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU
Steven Montez, QB, Colorado
Isaiah Wright, WR, Temple
Johnathan Johnson, WR, Missouri
Overview of the Redskins’ 2020 draft: No team did more with less over the first 108 selections of the 2020 NFL draft than Washington. Avoiding the mistake of trading away an opportunity for a potential franchise cornerstone, the Redskins wisely selected the draft’s best player in Ohio State’s Chase Young, despite the fact that edge rusher was already the strongest unit on the team. After the safest pick in the draft, Washington proceeded to take two of the riskiest prospects next, adding blossoming playmaker Antonio Gibson in the third round and a top 50 caliber left tackle prospect in Saahdiq Charles with the first of six Day Three selections. The trio rank among the top athletes at their respective positions in the entire 2020 class, with Young an obvious Defensive Rookie of the Year and future Pro Bowl candidate and the others likely to make an immediate impact, as well. The Redskins largely found high-caliber depth throughout the rest of Day Three, though do not be surprised if former San Diego State interior lineman Keith Ismael pushes for early playing time. Michigan’s Khaleke Hudson and Arkansas’ Kamren Curl could surprise if given an opportunity with the starters, as well, though initially, their speed and physicality first stand out on special teams.
In terms of raw talent, the Redskins deserve kudos for their draft, including with their small but gifted free agent class. The risks, however, are significant, making Washington’s one of the real boom or bust draft classes this year.
Best Player of the Redskins’ 2020 Draft: DE Chase Young, Ohio State
It is easy to venture into hyperbole when discussing the prototypically-built 6-5, 264 pound Young, who simply led the nation in both sacks (16.5) and forced fumbles (six) a year ago despite missing two games due to an NCAA-imposed suspension for accepting a loan from a family friend. Like former Buckeye teammates Joey and Nick Bosa, Young is expected to make an immediate impact in the NFL due to his own talent, as well as the fact that he is being inserted into a front which already boasts recent first round picks Montez Sweat (2019), Da’Ron Payne (2018) and Jonathan Allen (2017), as well as longtime standout Ryan Kerrigan, the 16 overall pick back in 2011, who has 90 career sacks in nine NFL seasons. With his explosive get-off, length and surprisingly refined technique, Young is a combination of Sweat and Kerrigan, projecting as an immediate impact defender, future All-Pro candidate and a franchise foundation.
Best Value of the Redskins’ 2020 Draft: OT Saahdiq Charles, LSU
Six teams dedicated first round selections to offensive tackles in the 2020 draft and few of them possess the combination of athleticism, starting experience and still-untapped potential which Charles – the 18 blocker drafted – provides to Washington. When evaluating this year’s Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line for the national champion LSU Tigers, Charles’ uniquely square 6-4, 322-pound frame and agility instantly stood out – at least in the games in which he played. Charles was in and out of Ed Orgeron’s doghouse throughout his time at LSU, serving a six-game suspension this past season. Once on the field, however, Charles’ excelled, flying up to the second level to help in the running game and deftly dancing with would-be pass rushers to protect Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Given that second-year starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins is a traditional dropback passer with limited mobility, it was critical that the Redskins find a quality left tackle for him to grow behind. Ideally, that would have been the 7-time Pro Bowler Williams, but give Washington credit for acknowledging that that bridge had been burned long ago and to take advantage of the ridiculous crop of tackles available in the 2020 draft. Charles is a gamble. His unreliability at LSU may have forced some teams to completely remove him from their board. The promise of a potential starting job, as well as the presence of former player in Rivera as a head coach may help keep him focused.
Best Project of the Redskins’ 2020 Draft: RB Antonio Gibson, Memphis
Washington nabbed a couple of exciting skill-position stars in Gibson and wideout Antonio Gandy-Golden who, with a little polishing, could steal the spotlight from the line of scrimmage. The 6-4, 223 pound Gandy-Golden is an imposing split-end with good build-up speed who turned heads at the Senior Bowl. It is Gibson, however, who is the even flashier and more versatile athlete. Despite rushing just 33 times in 2019 while splitting duties between slot receiver, running back and returner, Gibson was formally announced by Washington as a running back, giving the Redskins one of the deepest and most talented backfields in all of the NFL. Fans across the league recognize future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and many presumed that hard-charging Derrius Guice is his ultimate replacement. Gibson joins a running back room which also includes veterans Peyton Barber, Josh Ferguson and JD McKissic, as well as former Stanford superstar Bryce Love. Gibson likely won’t mind the crowded backfield in Washington given that he played with three other running backs at Memphis who were drafted into the NFL. Gibson has exceptional agility and acceleration for a 6-0, 228 pound man, showing vision and juice, alike, while weaving through defenders this past season for seven touchdowns of 40+ yards. Further, Gibson is also a talented receiver, showing excellent body control and sticky fingers to snatch passes outside of his frame. Say what you will about his developing instincts or pass blocking, of the many quality backs on Washington’s roster, Gibson ranks behind only the incomparable Peterson in terms of raw
Overall Grade for the Redskins’ 2020 Draft: C+
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