Mock draft season is in full swing, and, while there seems to be almost complete consensus on the top 3 picks in the draft, and not much variation in the top 8, opinions begin to scatter as the NFC East starts to pick. Following Philadelphia’s trade with the Dolphins, the Eagles sit at #12 on the draft board, behind Dallas at #10 and the Giants, who hold the 11th pick.
Washington, by virtue of its division title and playoff loss to the Buccaneers, is picking 19th overall. A year ago, there was no mystery whatsoever about what the Football Team would do when they went on the clock with the second overall pick in the draft – everyone knew that they were picking Chase Young, the beastly defensive end from Ohio State.
This year, it’s a completely different story.
Picking in the second half of the first round means that, until we actually get to the pick, there’s a great deal of uncertainty about which players will be left on the board. We know with a lot of certainty that the top 4, and possibly even 5, quarterbacks will be gone. Several non-quarterbacks are certain to be gone as well, among them TE Kyle Pitts, WR Ja’Marr Chase, OT Penei Sewell, and CB Patrick Surtain II.
There are other players who most analysts would predict to be off the board by the time Washington is on the clock, but there are surprises every year. That’s how Washington managed to draft Jonathan Allen at #17 in 2017, and why the team had to decide between Daron Payne and Derwin James at the 13th pick when James had been projected by nearly everyone to be a top-10 selection.
With the first round of the draft scheduled for April 29th, just three weeks from now, teams are in the process of not only nailing down their own evaluations on players, but playing out mock draft scenarios in an attempt to map out strategies for every likely outcome.
In this attempt, the Chicago Bears, who pick immediately after the Football Team, may be very frustrated, because no one seems to agree on what the Washington brainstrust of head coach Ron Rivera, GM Martin Mayhew and Executive VP of Player Personnel Marty Hurney will do when their turn comes.
What name will they write on the card that they send to Commissioner Roger Goodell?
It’s a mystery, and is likely to remain so right up until the moment we hear the commissioner call the name, but some professional football prognosticators have done their best to predict the future. This week, we have seen mock drafts published by ESPN, NFL.com, CBS, Pro Football Focus, WalterFootball, and others.
I have collected the results of seven of these nationally published mock drafts for your review below. Nationally respected writers like Mike Tannenbaum, Lance Zeirlein, Daniel Jeremiah and Todd McShay have weighed in with their best efforts – and every single one of them has made a different prediction!
Of course, there are some commonalities.
Four of the seven mock draft gave the Football Team an offensive lineman. The other three projections included two linebackers and a wide receiver.
The offensive linemen
Of the linemen recommended, I would be happiest with Christian Darrisaw, who is the only legitimate potential starting left tackle of the bunch. I also like that he is a local guy who played at Virginia Tech. The local players always seem to be happiest playing for Washington. I think part of the reason that the franchise has struggled to extend Brandon Scherff on a long-term deal is that he doesn’t really feel comfortable living in the area.
The Pick: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Va Tech
Jr – 6’5” – 314 pounds
The signing of Curtis Samuel means Washington likely won't take Florida receiver Kadarius Toney, who has a similar skill set, and there really isn't another receiver in this range. And other big need areas don't have any value here either, including quarterback, linebacker and tight end. I think it's slightly early for Darrisaw -- a smooth and powerful zone blocker -- but he is certainly one of the top tackles, and Washington would be able to beat the OT rush that likely begins toward the end of Round 1.
The Jaylen Mayfield pick feels a bit forced with the suggestion of moving Morgan Moses from right tackle to left tackle to make room for him. Moses played on the left side for one game in 2020 and talked about how hard it was to make the transition, and this is despite the fact that he played LT at UVa.
The Pick: Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
Jr – 6’5” – 319 pounds
Yes, Washington needs a left tackle, and yes, Mayfield played on the right side at Michigan. But he could certainly transition, or perhaps Morgan Moses slides over to the left side where he has 400-plus career snaps. Either way, Mayfield is a stout run-blocker who would help shore up the unit.
One thing to know: Michigan averaged 9.2 rushes per game outside the right tackle in 2019 -- behind Mayfield -- as opposed to 6.6 outside the left tackle.
Alex Leatherwood and Alijah Vera-Tucker
The other two linemen mocked to Washington each project more as guards than tackles in the NFL. Washington already has Saahdiq Charles, drafted in the 4th round last year, who appears to be a likely LT to LG conversion. The team has an All Pro right guard in Brandon Scherff, and a competent veteran in Wes Schweitzer at left guard. With Wes Martin, Keith Ismael and Tyler Larsen all on the roster as developmental interior offensive linemen, what the WFT really needs is a legitimate starting Left Tackle to replace jouneyman Cornelius Lucas, who did a fine job last season, but isn't the long-term solution at the position that was mannned by Chris Samuels and Trent Williams for the first 19 years of the current millenium. I’m afraid that Leatherwood or Vera-Tucker would provide flexibility when what Offensive Line Coach John Matsko needs is a specialist of the Chris Samuels-Trent Williams ilk.
This is a case of the national writers knowing the players very well, but not knowing enough about the team roster. I wouldn’t be happy with either of these picks.
The Pick: Alex Leatherwood, OT/G, Alabama
Sr – 6’5” – 312 pounds
The [WFT has] an elite defensive line. The offensive line is solid, but not at left tackle. There's a huge hole there, which Washington could fill with this selection.
Alex Leatherwood, a former five-star recruit, has excellent strength to be a stellar run blocker and the athleticism to block elite edge rushers.
The Pick: Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
R-Jr – 6’5” – 308 pounds
I liked that Washington kept guard Brandon Scherff (franchise tag), but the Football Team still needs to upgrade the offensive line. Vera-Tucker has the versatility to play tackle or guard.
Zaven Collins and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
I’m a big fan of both of these players as being just right for the Washington defense. I would be happy with either one, though I have JOK rated slightly higher. Although he is much smaller – or perhaps because he is much smaller -- than Collins, Owusu-Koramoah is a three down linebacker who could allow Jack Del Rio to stay in the base defense instead of nickel, even when facing 11 personnel (one TE, one RB, three WRs). He is a bit of a hybrid; a “positionless” player who lined up more often as a slot corner at Notre Dame than he did as a linebacker in the box. He fits the Washington mold of being extremely versatile, and allowing the defense to match up well with opposing offenses without requiring situational substitution. Also, like OT Christian Darrisaw, JOK is a local player who grew up in Hampton, Virginia.
The Pick: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
Jr – 6’4” – 260 pounds
Washington doesn't have many needs on the defensive side of the ball, but bolstering the linebacker corps makes sense here, especially if Collins is available
The Pick: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
R-Jr – 6’1” – 215 pounds
Big-time talent who brings an explosive blend of speed, aggression and versatility. He's still learning, but should become a high-end linebacker with rush and cover ability, as well.
Wide Receiver – Rashod Bateman
I just don’t like this idea at all. It’s not that I don’t like the player; I just don’t like the opportunity cost of passing on a legitimate starting left tackle or weakside linebacker who could make the team instantly better.
The Washington Football team signed Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphrey in free agency, meaning that Bateman would be in a competition just to break into the top-3 spots on the depth chart. He would also likely push a developing young receiver like Kelvin Harmon, Cam Sims or Antonio Gandy-Golden off the roster.
I’m happy for the football team to add a wide receiver, but they should wait until the 4th or 5th round; with four selections in the first 100 picks of the draft, Washington needs to focus on drafting players who will change the outcome of games in 2021, and I don’t think Bateman is that guy on this roster this year.
Pro Football Focus
The Pick: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Jr - 6’0” – 190 pounds
With the top five quarterbacks and the top three offensive tackles off the board here, Washington opts to add one of the more talented wide receiver prospects in the class to continue rounding out its receiving corps around Terry McLaurin. Bateman has shown that he can win both outside and in the slot across different roles in his career at Minnesota. He’s an NFL-ready prospect with some of the cleanest releases and routes in the class.