The most valuable players in any division in football are the quarterbacks. At this point, every fan knows just how much of an impact a great - or bad - signal caller can have on a franchise.
But what about the other guys on the field? It can be difficult to judge players across different positions, but that's what NBC Sports' Mike Florio and Chris Simms set out to do with their NFC East Non-QB Draft this week on Pro Football Talk.
If Florio and Simms are to be believed, Washington fans should feel pretty good about their chances of repeating a division title in 2021. That starts at the top, where two of their stars were taken with the first picks in the draft.
"I think realistically, and maybe this is a little bit on potential, but I’m going to pick Chase Young to be the first pick of this NFC East Draft. First off, the man, the human, the specimen...he’s a football player too. I don’t give a damn about the sacks. He makes a lot of fourth and one stops, third and short running stops," Simms said. "He’s got a way about him as a leader and as a talent on the field...he might not be his peak, prime best right now but I’m taking him first."
Simms admitted there wasn't an obvious choice at the top, but his co-host agreed with Young as the pick.
"I think he’s clearly, between potential and reality and what we saw last year, what he can be, he’s the guy that I would want out of any of those four teams other than quarterbacks," Florio said of Young. "And maybe even if we included quarterbacks I’d at least give it some thought."
For pick number two, Florio went right back to Washington. This time, he turned to the offense.
"I’ll take Terry McLaurin. In fact, I’m surprised you didn’t take Terry McLaurin right out of the gates," Florio said. "Borderline superstar, hasn’t had much to work with by way of guys getting him the football. This year with Fitzmagic, hopefully not Fitztragic, that will happen. And he will have the breakout, here he is, Terry McLaurin season. So give me McLaurin."
Once again, both co-hosts were in agreement.
"You know I’m a fan. And I think he’s better than what the stats say or what people really think he is, the perception, whatever. Because of what you talked about," Simms said. "Yeah, it hasn’t been great offense, he hasn’t had great quarterback play. I’m thinking this year’s the year where he’s going to be statistically amazing, they’re going to be a good team and some big moments people will realize what a weapon he is. He’s one of the fastest in the game, and you can’t leave him on an island. So good pick by you."
McLaurin is entering his third season in the NFL while Young is entering his second, and both players appear poised to be ranked near the top of their respective positions for years to come.
Young recorded 7.5 sacks and forced four fumbles during a rookie season in which he flashed his unlimited potential. McLaurin, meanwhile, followed up his 900-yard, seven TD rookie season with 1,118 receiving yards in 2020. Both years came with little help surrounding him offensively, and expectations are through the roof for year three.
It's not just Young and McLaurin that give Washington a chance to compete in 2021. After Zack Martin, Leonard Williams, Saquon Barkley and Devonta Smith went off the board, Simms and Florio rounded out the 10-player draft with three more Washington players.
Daron Payne went seventh, with Simms calling him a "beast in the middle" and "one of the better interior defensive lineman in football."
Then, after CeeDee Lamb, Brandon Scherff was chosen ninth with Simms referring to him as one of the five best guards in football. Florio rounded things out picking Montez Sweat 10th, making five of the 10 selections players in the nation's capital.
Simms put it succinctly after realizing how Washington-heavy their choices were.
"The more I sit here and look at this," Simms said, "this is why Washington’s going to win the NFC East."