Redskins

Redskins

During the Redskins 20-15 loss to the Packers in Week 14, quarterback Dwayne Haskins threaded a throw through a tight window to receiver Terry McLaurin, who snagged the pass with one hand for a 21-yard touchdown.

The rookie connection between the two Ohio State products offered a glimpse of that pairing’s potential in the years to come. But the former Buckeyes weren’t the only first-year players to make a splash against Green Bay. Linebacker Cole Holcomb led the team in tackles with nine, and cornerback Jimmy Mooreland was a close second with seven stops.

Throughout the season, Washington’s 2019 draft picks showed flashes like the performances against Green Bay.

It wasn’t just the first-round selections in Haskins and linebacker Montez Sweat, either. From McLaurin in the third round, to Moreland in the seventh, mid-and-late-round picks added quality reinforcements to the class and roster.

Pro Football Focus recently unveiled its wins above replacement metric, and ESPN used those measurements to rank all 32 draft classes based on value. With performances throughout the class, the Redskins were rated as the most productive class in the league.

The 2019 class and its success level will always be tied to Haskins, whom the team selected with the No. 15 pick. After his first two outings, both of which came after starting the game as the backup, it would have been tough to envision the Redskins earning the title of the most productive class in the league.

 

Haskins threw four interceptions in his first 22 pass attempts across relief appearances against the Giants and Vikings. But after interim head coach Bill Callahan gave the signal caller the starting job in week nine, Haskins began to show his ability.

Pro Football Focus gave Haskins a 73.4 grade, 12th-best in the NFL, after week 9. And in his final six quarters of his first season, the Redskins quarterback completed over 70% of his passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns against zero interceptions.

After selecting Haskins in the first round, Washington traded for the 26th pick to select Sweat out of Mississippi State. The edge rusher started all 16 games in his rookie season, recording 50 tackles, seven sacks — including two in the season finale against Dallas — and two forced fumbles.

McLaurin, named the best value pick of the class, wasted no time proving himself as one of the steals of the draft. The third-round pick posted five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. He followed that week-one showing with two games with at least five catches and a touchdown, becoming the first player in league history to reach those numbers in each of his first three games.

In 14 games, McLaurin finished with 58 receptions for 919 yards and seven touchdowns on his way to an 86.5 Pro Football Focus receiving grade, the highest among all rookie receivers, and the best since Odell Beckham Jr.’s in 2014.

Fourth-round pick Wes Martin started five games, including the final three, at guard for the Redskins as the team dealt with injuries along the offensive front and shuffled players into the lineup.

In the fifth-round, the Redskins selected Alabama guard Ross Pierschbacher and inside linebacker Cole Holcomb out of North Carolina.

Pierschbacher went on to make five appearances, all on special teams. Holcomb, however, made a significant impact.

At the time he was selected, Holcomb figured to be a depth player behind Reuben Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton. But less than a month later, Foster suffered a gruesome knee injury, giving the rookie a chance for a larger role.

Holcomb responded to the tune of 105 tackles, including six for a loss, and three forced fumbles over 16 appearances and 15 starts. The North Carolina product finished second among rookies in tackles, behind only Steelers’ first-round pick Devin Bush.

Kelvin Harmon, the team’s sixth-round pick, was the third member of the young trio with McLaurin and Steven Sims that emerged as the most-dependable receivers. Harmon finished with 30 catches for 365 yards in 16 games played.

Washington’s seventh-round pick Jimmy Moreland started five games and totaled 42 tackles.

The team used another fourth-round pick on running back Bryce Love out of Stanford, but the Cardinal standout spent the season recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in college. The team’s last selection, seventh-round pick Jordan Brailford, also didn’t see the field after landing on injured reserve just before the regular season.

Last season’s Director of College Personnel Kyle Smith, who played a large role in the 2019 draft process, received a promotion to vice president of player personnel on Jan. 13 as the Redskins transition to a new era under the direction of head coach Ron Rivera.

 

With the highly productive 2019 class, Rivera and the Redskins have a solid, young foundation to build around on both sides of the ball.

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