Everyone knows that if the Redskins are going to make progress they are going to need to improve their defense, which ranked 28th in the NFL last year. They took a big step towards doing that when they signed All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman last week. That gave them some flexibility to go after the other side of the ball in the first round on Thursday, when they took wide receiver Josh Doctson with the 22nd pick in the draft.
“There’s arguments there – you could take defense, but, you know, like I said before we took the best player,” Gruden told the media shortly after the Doctson pick was made. “We addressed defense the other day with Josh Norman. We gave them [the defense] a first-round pick, so they should be happy [laughter]. It’s about building a football team and taking the best players to help us and we thought Josh was a perfect fit.”
We’ll never know if the Redskins would have used that first-round pick on a cornerback or on another defensive position if the Panthers had not rescinded the franchise tag on Norman, leading to a whirlwind 48 hours that ended with him signing a five-year, $75 million deal with the Redskins. If you believe Gruden, it made the decision to go with an offensive weapon was made easier by the move.
“It played into it a little bit, getting Josh Norman the other day,” he said. “Obviously it helped with the defensive back depth. I don’t know if it would’ve matter, really, because like I said before we’re going to take the best player on the board and he was clearly up there. We’re happy to get him.”
Still, the needs on defense remain. Gruden is confident that they can be addressed later in the draft. The draft is said to be particularly deep along the defensive line, which is near the top of their needs list.
“Yeah, you look into all that – depth of other positions on defense,” he said. “It is a good draft for that. We’ll address other positions obviously later, I don’t know which ones yet, we’ll see who’s available. But, it is a very deep draft at a lot of positions for that matter. We feel like we can still add to this roster and get some quality players – second, third, fourth, fifth rounds.”
That last part is something that many fans tend to forget. There are six more rounds and there are plenty of good players left on the board. The first-round pick is very important but the rest of the draft is where Scot McCloughan earns his money and his reputation. Fans should wait until the whole picture is painted before evaluating it.