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Ron Rivera: Draft status doesn't guarantee a roster spot

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Back in April, Ron Rivera completed his second draft as head football boss of the Washington Football Team.

It's entirely premature to declare those results a success - or not - but for Rivera, this training camp marks a reasonable time frame to grade his first draft class from 2020. 

"The only time it's ever important is the first year after that you start looking at the guys that are going to help you right now," Rivera explained. "You really don't want to cut a guy that you drafted right away, but you want to play the guys that give you the best opportunity to win."

Rivera's comments come at an interesting time as Washington needs to trim its roster from 85 to 80 players by Tuesday at 4 p.m. Larger cuts loom at the end of the month when the team needs to get down to 53 players, its active roster for the regular season. 

That means Rivera, along with executives Martin Mayhew and Marty Hurney, need to cut more than 30 players in about the next 10 days. 

Eventually, that could mean a 2020 draft pick gets released. 

"Sometimes there's a certain point every now and then we just have to admit a mistake to move on,” Rivera said.

Washington's first two picks from the 2020 Draft were very obviously not mistakes: Chase Young and Antonio Gibson. Those players look like franchise cornerstones. 

In the fourth round Washington grabbed LSU offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles and Liberty WR Antonio Gandy-Golden. Both players saw little action as rookies while dealing with injuries, though Charles has had an encouraging offseason and training camp showing versatility as both a guard and tackle. His roster spot seems secure. 

 

There's been much speculation about Gandy-Golden after a rookie season where he registered just one catch. He's still big and strong, and grabbed three catches in Friday night's preseason win over the Bengals, including a nice grab on a two-point conversion. 

It's not a sure thing but Gandy-Golden seems positioned to claim the sixth wide receiver spot on Washington's depth chart. That puts him ahead of Steven Sims, DeAndre Carter and Isaiah Wright on the cut line. 

From there Washington drafted three more players, a pair of fifth rounders in San Diego State OL Keith Ismael and Michigan LB Khaleke Hudson before taking Arkansas SS Kam Curl in the seventh round. 

Curl is a star, and that pick is a home run. 

Hudson looks poised to claim one of five linebacker spots. 

But what about Ismael?

The two-deep depth chart for Washington's offensive line seems to have settled. The tackles include Sam Cosmi, Charles Leno, Charles and Cornelius Lucas while the interior linemen look like a collection of Brandon Scherff, Ereck Flowers, Wes Schweitzer, Chase Roullier and Tyler Larsen.

That's nine linemen, plus veteran tackle David Sharpe remains on the COVID-19 list. If he comes back healthy, and given Charles' versatility, that could be the group of 10. 

So where's Ismael? He could be on the outside looking in - though he'd remain eligible for the practice squad should Washington release him and he passes through waivers. 

When Rivera talks, listen, especially when it comes to personal accountability. 

The previous administration in Washington took great pride in keeping their draft picks, even when it became clear they shouldn't. Doesn't sound like Rivera will subscribe to that theory, and that's a good thing for the Burgundy and Gold.