The big question in Washington on draft day is simple:
Deal or no deal?
Will the Redskins draft a player with the No. 5 pick in the draft? Or will Scot McCloughan wheel and deal his way down and scoop up some more premium picks in the draft, which gets underway tonight in Chicago?
That’s not necessarily up to McCloughan. It could be up to the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Let’s assume that Jameis Winston goes to the Bucs with the first overall pick, an assumption that has seemed to be safe ever since Tampa Bay qualified for the No. 1 pick back in December. Figuring that Marcus Mariota will go second to somebody, whether it’s the Titans or a team that traded for their pick, is not quite as much of a slam dunk as Winston but it seems to be a pretty good bet. We’ll start with that for our purposes here.
The QBs going 1-2 would leave three prime players on the board in edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr., wide receiver Amari Cooper, and defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Picking in between the Titans and Redskins are the Jaguars at No. 3 and Raiders.
Although there has been some buzz that the Jags will go for Cooper to give second-year quarterback Blake Bortles a top-shelf target, it’s more likely that they will try to bolster a defense that ranked 26th in the NFL. That would mean that Williams or Fowler would be headed to Jacksonville.
Then the Raiders go on the clock. They have a promising second-year QB of their own in Derek Carr. His top target is 31-year-old James Jones. They would have to take a long, hard look at Cooper even though whoever is left between Williams and Fowler is likely the higher-rated prospect.
Would Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie stick to the board and take the other defender? Or would he address the need with Cooper?
McCloughan will be anxiously awaiting McKenzie’s decision. If Cooper ends up in silver and black McCloughan will have either Fowler, who plays a position of need, or Williams, who plays a position the Redskins stocked in free agency.
Here is what I see happening in each of the three scenarios:
—If Fowler is there, I think the Redskins turn in the card with his name on it and start planning for his introduction to the media and fans at FedEx Field on Saturday.
—Should Williams be on the board, I see McCloughan trying very hard to extract a bounty of picks in exchange for the rights to the player many have said is the best prospect in the draft, the one most likely to be an All-Pro in the near future. Either they will win big in a trade or they will take Williams.
—If it’s Cooper on the board, I think that McCloughan’s price for the pick will not be quite as steep. It’s not that the Redskins can’t use a wide receiver with their top pass catchers becoming older and more expensive. But I think McCloughan would rather move down than take Cooper and he would take something closer to sticker price for the pick in a trade.