Despite a flurry of reports that suggested trading up, the Redskins played the long game with their first selection of the 2019 NFL Draft. The team landed Dwayne Haskins, the new quarterback of the future in Washington, and a worthy candidate for the franchise's new face with the 15th overall pick.
Haskins was incredible last year at Ohio State. He threw for 50 touchdowns and completed 70 percent of his passes. Washington head coach Jay Gruden said that Haskins might be too raw right away for the pro game, but after visiting with the Buckeye passer, the learning curve might be even faster than first estimates.
Had Washington traded up for Haskins, there would have been real debate about giving up additional draft capital for a QB that might not pay off immediately. Without a trade up, by playing the patient game and getting Haskins with the 15th pick, there is no spot for consternation.
If the draft ended with Haskins, the Redskins did well.
But it didn't. Late in the first round, the Redskins attacked success.
Washington gave up the 46th pick and a 2020 second-rounder to move up to the 26th spot and select Mississippi State OLB Montez Sweat.
That move, that aggressive action, transformed the Redskins' first round from good to great.
In the past two years playing SEC football, Sweat has more than 20 sacks and 30 tackles for loss. His numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine were flat out nuts. At his size, at his speed, with his college production, Sweat was projected to be a top 10 pick.
Montez Sweat (Redskins 1st rounder, Defensive End) had the same 40-yard time in the 2019 Combine (4.41) as Robert Griffin III in 2012— Rich Goldberg (@goldystats) April 26, 2019
Gruden said the Redskins considered Sweat with the 15th pick, and no rational fan would have been disappointed with that pick. An odd medical diagnosis, or mis-diagnosis, caused Sweat to slip on Thursday, and the Redskins jumped to take advantage.
"The measurables are second to none as far as an edge rusher, outside linebacker-type player," Gruden said. "If you’re 6-foot-6, run a 4.41 forty and you have the production he had at Mississippi State and you performed like he did at the Senior Bowl, it just is a perfect fit for us."
Coming into Thursday night, the Redskins had some major needs. Quarterback was tops on the list because of the importance of the position. Edge rusher was near the top too. Wide receiver and offensive guard were high on the list too, and while those spots didn't get addressed, it was just the first round.
There's an easy case to make that QB and pass rusher are the two most important positions in pro football, and in the span of 11 picks, the Redskins landed a quarterback of the future and an athletic freak off the edge.
Haskins was a strong pick on its own. The Redskins deserve accolades for solving the riddle that is QBX without moving up in the draft. Prior to Thursday night, of the last 12 first-round QBs taken, 11 of them came as a result of a trade up. That didn't happen for Washington.
The Sweat pick, however, was tremendous. Yes, Washington gave up two second-round picks, but the potential payoff seems much higher than the compensation.
Add it up, even for the cynics, and the Redskins crushed round one of the draft.
Plenty of picks remain, but things got off to a strong start.
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