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3 NFL Draft scenarios for Washington to land an elite prospect at 19

/ by JP Finlay
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Micah Parsons, Jaylen Waddle and Justin Fields

Randy Moss slipped to the 21st pick. Aaron Rodgers lasted until the 24th selection, the same as Ed Reed. 

Moss and Reed are already in the Hall of Fame, and eventually, Rodgers will be too. 

The point of this history lesson? Great players often slip in the draft, and it happens all the time. 

For Washington, it's entirely possible a tremendous player falls in their lap at the 19th pick. That would mean Ron Rivera's team can just sit back and land a star without giving up draft capital to move up. 

It's not likely, it's not even probable, but it can certainly happen. 

Here are a few scenarios:

Size matters

After posting nearly 1,900 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns while winning the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship in 2020, it seems inconceivable Alabama WR DeVonta Smith could fall to 19 in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Think again.

Assume five quarterbacks (Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Mac Jones, Trey Lance) go in the first 15 picks, that will already push better players down the draft board. Then consider a run on the top pass-rushing (Azeez Ojulari, Kwity Paye), pass-blocking (Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, Christian Darrisaw) and cornerback (Jaycee Horn, Patrick Surtain II, Caleb Farley) prospects. That could be as many as 13 players in the first 15 picks taken before a pass-catching threat.

That would leave Kyle Pitts, Ja'Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle along with Smith as the players to get to 19. Of those four elite pass-catching options, only Smith has significant size questions, weighing in before the draft at just 166 lbs. Pitts will absolutely go in the Top 10 as well, and that's without mentioning top linebacker prospects like Micah Parsons, Zaven Collins or Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

 

DeVonta Smith is an absolute stud but some scouts and talent evaluators might be scared off by the size. It's hard to think Washington is looking to go WR in round one after spending big in free agency on Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries, but if a player like Smith slips to them, that would be hard to ignore. 

Character concerns

When Randy Moss came out of Marshall in 1998, there was zero question he was the most physically gifted receiver in the draft. Zero. Still, he was the second wideout taken after Kevin Dyson and the 21st-overall pick that year.

Why? Character concerns.

In his Hall of Fame career, Moss scored 156 touchdowns and he's far better remembered for his speed and leaping ability than for some trouble he got into in college.

Character concerns, however, have caused plenty of other players to slip in the draft, and for some, rightfully so. Penn State LB Micah Parsons is the latest draft prospect with questions after getting into trouble in college and immaturity issues. Will that linger? Can teams trust him? Heck, can Washington draft another potentially immature player after the Dwayne Haskins debacle? There's a clear path to Parsons being available at 19, and linebacker is a position of need for the Burgundy and Gold.

5 QBs, 3 CBs, 3 WRs and Pitts, 3 tackles and 2 pass rushers gets all the way to the 18th pick.

Stranger things have happened. 

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Smokescreen

Think all the way back to January, way back four full months ago, and back then it was a real question if Mac Jones was a first-round QB. Certainly, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and the intriguing Trey Lance were first-round talents, but Jones was a question. He had a wildly impressive 2020 season for Alabama, but he was surrounded by talent and lacked elite NFL-style athleticism.

As the pre-draft process raged on, things changed for Jones. He impressed at the Senior Bowl and dazzled in interviews. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the 49ers traded up to the third-overall pick, and plenty of reports said the move was to get Jones.

Huh? We sure?

San Francisco traded three first-round picks to get Jones? It could be true. It very well could be. But it also could be total deception, as is the norm in the weeks leading up to the draft, and Kyle Shanahan wants to take Fields or Lance. If that happens, could Jones drop? Carolina already traded for Sam Darnold, and Denver might actually want to stick it out with Drew Lock. Detroit just traded for Jared Goff. Sure, the Patriots need a QB, but nobody on Earth knows what Bill Belichick plans to do on draft day.

 

Is it unlikely Jones - or maybe even Lance - slides to Washington at 19? Sure, it's unlikely. But it's damn sure not impossible.

If the 49ers don't take Jones, who is the team that definitely will?

When Ron Rivera said that he cannot accurately guess what Washington will do in the draft, he was telling the truth. With the 19th overall pick, there are just so many questions in front of the Burgundy and Gold, and depending on how the answers unfold, the results could look great.