Washington NFL Draft Priorities: This One First, That One Next

If the Washington Football Team is smart, they will address the defensive woes first in the 2021 NFL Draft. Yes, seriously
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Offense wins games, Defense wins championships. If the Washington Football Team is smart, they will live by this mantra on draft weekend. 

At the risk of coming across as a contrarian ... Defense wins in Washington. And wins in this draft.

Perhaps one of the biggest dilemmas for WFT is what to do when picking at No. 19. They're in a prime spot to move up and grab "their guy" should he fall. They also have the opportunity of moving back and garnering more picks. 

There's no denying that there are often some holes on the roster. Ryan Fitzpatrick is placeholder for the quarterback of the future. The team could add competition on the offensive line, primarily at left tackle. It doesn't also hurt to have a reliable No. 2 option at both running back and tight end. 

READ MORE: How Far Will Fields Fall? Top 10 QB Targets For Washington

Still, WFT is a piece or two away from having a top-three consensus defense. There will be options at other positions down the line offensively. Can one say the same on defense? 

Last season, Washington's defense ranked second in passing yards allowed per game and fifth in QBR ratings. Five of the QBs faced were ranked in the top 16. That number will expand in 2021. 

WFT doesn't know the weeks they'll be playing each opponent, but they have an indication on who will be under centers. Names include Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. 

That's also not including Dak Prescott, who they'll face twice a season every year through at least 2024. 

When looking at the defense, WFT is a mere "blue-collar" linebacker away from being a top-five unit. Add in a reliable free safety, make it top three. The front line is set with Jon Allen, Da'Ron Payne, Chase Young, Montez Sweat and Matt Ioannidis. 

READ MORE: The Linebackers Top-Ten 

The secondary improved with the addition of William Jackson III. Even if Landon Collins won't move down, rookie Kam Curl showed promise in zone coverage last season. 

WFT could stay put at No. 19 and take the best defensive player. By our indications, Notre Dame's Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah fits the bill. A hybrid defender that excelled in South Bend, he can play in coverage, amaze coordinators against the run and tackle like no one's business. 

According to The Athletic's Pete Sampson, there's an actual formula for the way "JOK" plays when developing a hit. Consider it like an outcome of the impact of a punch in the boxing ring thanks to the surrounding elements.  

Should the pick be JOK, it wouldn't be Ron Rivera's first time working with a hybrid player. Back in 2015, the Carolina Panthers added Washington defender Shaq Thompson. Thanks to coaching, he's become a high-end starter in the Queen City. 

READ MORE: NFL Draft: Should Washington Trade Up For Sewell Or Parsons?

For fans hoping WFT would add Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw, the argument against it would be due to the news of the Ereck Flowers trade. Flowers has played tackle and guard, and the move might justify adding a defender early. 

The status on Brandon Scherff past 2021 is still unknown and Morgan Moses enters free agency after 2022. That doesn't mean WFT shouldn't target an offensive lineman, but compared to defense, it has become a lesser need leading up to Thursday. 

If JOK goes at No. 19, Washington could target long-term prospects such as Stanford's Walker Little or Cincinnati's James Hudson with one of its two third-round picks. Both have upside but both need time to develop due to lack of starts in college.

 If say Darrisaw becomes the next Trent Williams, WFT must solidify the final linebacker role with the No. 51 selection. LSU's Jabril Cox might be the perfect fit in coverage, but Ohio State's Baron Browning offers more both on the outside and in. 

READ MORE: Jabril Vs. Jamin: Which SEC Linebacker Should Washington Target In NFL Draft?

Veteran middle linebacker Jon Bostic is entering a contract season. 

Rivera has a good problem on his hands. He could force Collins to move down to the cover-backer role and add a safety such as TCU's Trevon Moehrig in a trade back. (Though Moehrig might go in the early 20's.) He could keep Collins at safety and take whichever player is higher on the board. 

Either way, it's a win-win. Keep in mind though, Carolina was at its best under Rivera with a top 10 defense. 

Washington's defense is a piece away from being elite. Not elite for a season, but rather multiple seasons. This shouldn't make bettors take the odds that a defensive name will come off the board first, but if the right guy is there, it might be too hard to pass up. 

CONTINUE READING: Does Trade Change Washington Thoughts On Darrisaw In NFL Draft?