Though it happens every year, judging a draft class immediately following the draft is largely an exercise in futility. Football players need to play before they can be properly graded. Now, with Redskins GM Scot McCloughan working away towards his second draft class, seems an appropriate time to look back at his first batch of Redskins rookies.
NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks broke down the entire 2015 NFL Draft by division, assigning grades for each class and projections for the first round in 2016. While the Redskins were the best NFC East team on the field in 2015, when it comes to 2015 draft grades, Washington dominated. Brooks graded the Redskins 2015 rookie haul as an A-, and the next highest grade was the Cowboys at B-. Both the Giants and Eagles received a C+.
Highlighting the Redskins class was first-round pick Brandon Scherff. The guard out of Iowa started all 16 games for Washington and stabilized the right side of the line, an immediate impact player in a draft class full of them. Brooks called Scherff a "rock solid blocker" and added that the right guard brought a nasty attitude to the offensive line. Here's the rest of Brooks' analysis of the Redskins' rookies:
"Preston Smith made solid contributions with his workmanlike presence off the edge. He notched eight sacks as a situational rusher and flashed big-time potential as a future starter. Matt Jones showed glimpses of being a future starter at running back. Washington's ground game could revolve around him in Year 2 if Alfred Morris leaves as a free agent. Jamison Crowder is a star in the making as a dynamic slot receiver/kick returner. He is a terrific route runner with outstanding ball skills and playmaking ability. Look for Crowder to play a big role as a WR2/WR3 going forward."
For anyone that watched the 'Skins in 2015, it's hard to disagree. And other rookies like Kyshoen Jarrett and Quinton Dunbar emerged as strong players for McCloughan's squad.
As for the 2016 projections, Brooks expects the Skins to go defense, and specifically the secondary.
The team's brass will spend a lot of time investigating Ohio State's Eli Apple, Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller and Clemson's Mackensie Alexander to see if they can handle the CB1 role. The Redskins also need a playmaking safety to serve as an apprentice under veteran DeAngelo Hall. Boise State's Darian Thompson, West Virginia's Karl Joseph and Southern Utah's Miles Killebrew will draw interest as potential rovers in the back end.
After a strong performance in 2015, it's now time for McCloughan to follow it up. That's how the best teams are built, with strong drafts stacked on top of one another, and that's the strategy McCloughan has repeatedly said he intends to pursue.