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In strong 2019 draft, Redskins show long-term vision combined with need for immediate results

In strong 2019 draft, Redskins show long-term vision combined with need for immediate results

The best player in the Redskins draft came with the organization's second pick. That's no knock on the first pick, but it shows the strategic balance Washington attempted to deploy in the 2019 NFL Draft.

After two straight seasons with a 7-9 record and no playoff appearances since 2015, the Redskins organization stood at a crossroads.

Was it time to rebuild? Maybe. Were there still enough pieces to try and win now? Maybe. 

Trying to thread that needle - rebuilding on the fly - comes with exceeding risk. Usually, teams do more damage attempting to patch holes rather than starting over.

But after three days of drafting, 10 new players heading to Washington, all with strong track records of success and almost all from major college programs, there's some optimism the Redskins pulled off that exact feat. The results won't be known for a few years, but Kyle Smith's draft board delivered a healthy dose of prospects at the most important positions on the field. 

For years, the Redskins refused to build depth on the interior of their offensive line. This year they did the opposite, adding two guards in the middle rounds in Wes Martin and Ross Pierschbacher.

A week ago, Jay Gruden's team had one of the worst receiving groups in the NFL. Now, with the addition of speedster Terry McLaurin and physical Kelvin Harmon, that group looks much different. There's no guarantee the two rookies will help right away, but there are plenty of reasons to think they can.

Speed, too, has been a problem in Washington, both on offense and defense. 

Well, the 'Skins just landed elite positional speed at linebacker by adding Cole Holcomb, on the defensive line by adding Montez Sweat, receiver with McLaurin, and if fourth-round running back Bryce Love can return all the way from a knee injury, he injects serious flash to the backfield.

Not every report will be glowing from the Redskins draft. The team did not add a safety or a tight end, something that was a reasonable expectation going into the action in Nashville. Holes do remain on the roster, just like they do for every NFL team.

But all of their picks, even seventh-rounders Jimmy Moreland and Jordan Brailford seem to have a realistic chance at making the 53-man roster.

Brailford led the Big 12 in sacks last season at Oklahoma State, and Moreland was a big play machine at FCS-level James Madison. During his career at JMU, Bradford set a school record with 18 interceptions, six of which he ran back for touchdowns. And despite standing just 5-foot-10, Moreland blocked six kicks in college. What's not to like about those guys in the seventh round?

Ultimately, though, this draft will be judged by the two first-round picks. 

In Dwayne Haskins, the 15th overall pick and the Redskins first selection, a new franchise quarterback has arrived. The former Ohio State Buckeye has immense potential and prototype size. After last November's horrific injury to Alex Smith, Washington had a huge hole in their long-term plans at quarterback. By drafting Haskins, that hole is plugged.

Still, fans need to remind themselves this is a rookie quarterback. Very rarely do rookie QBs guide their teams to winning records, let alone playoff spots. Haskins has all the talent needed to play the position, but going from college football to the NFL is a tremendous transition. 

With Bruce Allen at the helm, the Redskins front office showed intelligence and restraint by not trading up in the draft to get Haskins. Allen and the entire organization deserve credit. The first 14 picks fell perfectly for the team to get their quarterback without using additional draft capital to move up, which would have been a major mistake. 

Now, the Redskins would be wise to show the same intelligence and restraint and not force Haskins into a starting role. 

If the 21-year-old earns the job in training camp and preseason action, then, of course, he should start. That could happen.

Gruden declared that Haskins will get the opportunity to compete for the QB1 role, alongside veterans Case Keenum and Colt McCoy. That's the right move. Let all three quarterbacks compete.

The wrong move, however, will be pushing Haskins ahead of the veterans just because he's the first-round pick and the new face of the franchise. Baker Mayfield, the first overall pick last season, did not start right away in Cleveland. Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP, did not start until Week 17 as a rookie. 

Patience paid off for the Redskins in getting Haskins with the 15th overall pick. That plan should remain in operation.

Conversely, the Redskins need to get Montez Sweat on the field as soon as and as much as possible. Unlike Haskins, Washington did trade up in the first round to get Sweat, and the franchise has been lauded for the move.

The 26th overall pick, Sweat projects as an immediate impact player that can make the Redskins defense better right away. His speed off the edge, power, athleticism and long frame, paired with a stout defensive line and opposite veteran Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan, could all work together to give Greg Manusky's defense one of the best fronts in football. 

Let Sweat sweat. Let Haskins learn.

The Redskins deserve applause for a draft class that looks to have balanced need with talent, strength with speed, and solved their quarterback riddle. The team showed patience when they needed to and got aggressive in the right moments too. 

Now, the team needs to show that same blend of patience and aggression to get the most out of the most important players, and the best for the franchise. In 2019, and beyond. 


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Redskins vs. Jets Week 11 Inactives: Guice returns, Richardson out

Redskins vs. Jets Week 11 Inactives: Guice returns, Richardson out

When rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins makes his first start at FedExField vs. the Jets, he'll be without one of his top wide receivers. Veteran Paul Richardson was ruled out Friday with a hamstring injury. Second-year wide receiver Cam Sims has been called up to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. 

Haskins will have running back Derrius Guice to lean on, however. The second-year running back was activated off injured reserve last week and is set to return against the Jets. For the first time, Redskins fans will get to see Haskins, Guice, and standout rookie wideout Terry McLaurin in action together.

Neither tight end Vernon Davis or running back Chris Thompson, two of the team's best offensive weapons, will play vs. New York. Davis will miss his sixth consecutive game, still recovering from a concussion he suffered in Week 4 vs. the Giants. Thompson has still yet to practice since suffering a toe injury against Miami in Week 6 and will miss his fourth consecutive game.

Safety Montae Nicholson, who has not played since Week 6, is active. Earlier this week, he was cooperating with police following a 21-year-old woman's death.

Special teams captain and safety DeShazor Everett is inactive. He has not played since the Redskins Week 5 loss to New England.

Here are the Week 11 inactives.

Redskins vs. Jets Week 11 Inactives

Redskins Inactives:

TE Vernon Davis
RB Chris Thompson
QB Colt McCoy
DL Tim Settle
WR Paul Richardson
OL Ross Pierschbacher
S Deshazor Everett

Jets Inactives:

S Matthias Farley
LB C.J. Mosely
LB Paul Worrilow
CB Darryl Roberts
OL Leo Koloamatangi
CB Nate Hairston
DL Jordan Willis


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Potential No. 1 NFL Draft pick Tua Tagovailoa to miss rest of season with hip injury

Potential No. 1 NFL Draft pick Tua Tagovailoa to miss rest of season with hip injury

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- What was planned to be the last series of the day for Tua Tagovailoa ended in the final play of his season -- and maybe his Alabama career.

The Crimson Tide's star quarterback will miss the rest of the season after dislocating his right hip in the first half of No. 4 Alabama's 38-7 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday.

Tagovailoa, the potential top pick in April's NFL draft, was injured while being dragged down by two Bulldogs late in the first half, with the Tide up four touchdowns. He was flown by helicopter to the St. Vincent's Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Hours later the school announced he has sustained a dislocated right hip.

"He is undergoing further testing to determine the best course of treatment," Alabama team orthopedic surgeon Lyle Cain said in a statement. "He is expected to make a full recovery but will miss the remainder of the season."

Tagovailoa had been nursing an ankle injury and Alabama was considering holding him out of this game. The junior needed surgery four weeks ago for a high ankle sprain on his right leg that caused him to miss a game and a half.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said the plan was to remove Tagovailoa from the game before the series when the quarterback was injury. Alabama was leading 35-7, but it was decided to let Tagovailoa play one more possession to get some work in the two-minute drill.

"We can second guess ourselves all we want," Saban said. "We told Mac (Jones) to warm up and we were going to go 2-minute before the half. Tua wanted to play in the game and so I don't really make a lot of decisions worrying if a guy is going to get hurt."

Tagovailoa was 14 of 18 for 256 yards and two touchdown passes against Mississippi State, giving him 31 TD passes on the season. He was replaced by Jones, who went 7 for 11 for 94 yards.

Jones led the Crimson Tide to an easy victory when he started against Arkansas last month. Alabama faces Western Carolina next week before finishing the season at No. 13 Auburn.

Tailback Najee Harris warned reporters that he wasn't in the mood to answer questions, saying: "I'm just hurt about our quarterback, what happened to our quarterback."

"He means a lot to our team, Harris said. "It's our guy. I came here at the same time he did. Been friends with him since my freshman season. For him to go down like that really hurts."

The Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) were coming off a 46-41 loss to LSU that nudged it out of College Football Playoff position to fifth in the latest selection committee rankings. Now Alabama is facing the possibility of trying to impress the committee without Tagovailoa, the Heisman Trophy runner-up from last season.

Tagovailoa played well against LSU, passing for more than 400 yards, but he was gimpy at times, favoring his right ankle. Saban said Tagovailoa was a game-time decision against Mississippi State. He started and the Tide jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a touchdown run and a touchdown catch by Najee Harris, who finished with four TDs.

Mississippi State (4-6, 2-5) cut the lead to 14-7 on a 1-yard scoring run by Kylin Hill. But that was as close it got. Harris finished with 88 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving. Jerry Jeudy had seven catches for 114 yards receiving for Alabama.

After the game, the mood among the Tide players was somber.

"I'm just hurt about our quarterback, what happened to our quarterback," Harris said.