Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. Washington entered the draft with eight draft picks, but via a late trade with the Eagles, changed a 2022 5th-round pick into two late picks in this year’s draft — a 6th and a 7th — giving Washington 4 picks in the final two rounds and ten picks overall for the 2021 draft.
The first comment I heard about the trade was from an NFL Network analyst who commented that, since the 2022 class was likely to be both more talented and teams were likely to have more information about them, the logical thing to do seemed to be what the Eagles did — get rid of 2021 picks in favor of 2022 picks.
After updating the depth chart for this article, I have my own theory. With ten total picks, the Washington Football Team roster now stands at exactly 90 players, meaning that they don’t really need to chase undrafted free agents this week, though they will undoubtedly make a few moves in an effort to upgrade the current roster where they can.
If you think that through, it means that they know their camp roster now, but next year, when it is expected that there will be a larger pool of more talented players and a great deal more information, the team will be able to fill out the roster with undrafted free agents by drawing from a deeper and more talented group of “leftovers” that the team has a lot more information on.
Let me offer a couple of points of explanation on the depth chart presented below.
First, nothing has changed from the pre-draft depth chart except that I have added the ten newly drafted players (and changed the color of Sammis Reyes’ spot on the chart).
Second, I have made only a token attempt to determine whether each drafted rookie is likely to be a starter, primary backup or depth/special teams. Where I felt any uncertainty, I placed the player farther from the starting level, giving precedence to veteran players.
Thirdly, I have also given only token consideration to defining player positions. That is, I have listed Darrick Forrest as a free safety, though he said he has played both, and he may end up at SS; I plugged Dyami Brown in as Terry McLaurin’s primary backup, though this may turn out to be the wrong spot for him; likewise, I have left Curtis Samuel as the starter opposite Terry rather than listing him as a slot receiver, and inserted Dax Milne as a backup to Samuel, behind all the vets with some playing experience; I arbitrarily listed the two drafted DEs on the chart without regard to whether they are more likely to play on the left or right side, and I listed Benjamin St-Juste at his college position of CB even though there is evidence to suggest that he may be asked to play safety at least part time in the NFL. Mark Tyler has already been on Twitter suggesting that Shaka Toney, listed as a DE, is not a true edge rusher and could play SAM linebacker; that won’t be reflected on this chart.
It seems likely that there will be some UDFA action this week that will affect the depth chart — in fact, there’s already been an early report that RB Jaret Patterson has signed with the Football Team — but with a 90-man roster, each signing will need to be paired with a corresponding move to remove a current player, so I don’t expect a lot of signings. Last year, you may recall, the front office signed only 4 UDFAs post-draft to fill out the slimmed-down 80-man offseason roster. I think the number may be similar this year.
Washington seems to have added young talent where it was needed:
Linebacker – the first pick of the draft adds a LB, Jamin Davis, who seems to fit naturally into the WILL role as a Day 1 starter, with the ability to develop into a key defensive leader as his career develops. Ron Rivera said afterwards that he has never felt more comfortable with a player, or words to that effect. He obviously feels very good about the team’s first round selection.
Offensive Line – in the second round, the team selected Sam Cosmi, who many regard as the most athletic lineman in the draft class.
Defensive backs – At first I thought the team might rely on St-Juste, their initial 3rd round pick, to bolster both CB and FS, but with the 5th round pick the team added a true safety in Darrick Forrest with the flexibility to play both strong & free safety, continuing the pattern of versatility that Ron Rivera seems to value in players.
Wide Receiver – Dyami Brown looks like a player who may have been under-valued by teams due to his limited role in the UNC offense, but he is only the second D1 player ever to average 20 yards per catch in consecutive years. He should add an explosive element to the offense that can be exploited by Ryan Fitzpatrick, and which should open up the field for the other receiving targets in a way that we haven’t seen since the days when Desean Jackson wore burgundy & gold. The team added another 1,000-yard receiver in Dax Milne with its final pick in the draft.
Tight End – More than a few fans expected the team to grab a tight end earlier in the draft, but they grabbed a strong blocker and reliable receiver (albeit with limited college production in the passing game) when they took John Bates in the 4th round. I have listed Bates as the primary backup to Logan Thomas on the depth chart above. Ignore the TV analyst’s player comp of Jeremy Sprinkle for this guy — we don’t want to worsen your PTSD. Bates looks to be a better blocker and a much smoother pass catcher that “Sprink” ever was.
Defensive End – With Montez Sweat and Chase Young locked in as starters, the Football Team needed to build some depth behind them following the apparent loss of both Ryan Anderson and Ryan Kerrigan in free agency. They did that with a pair of back-to-back 7th round selections — William Bradley-King, drafted at #240, and Shaka Toney at #246.
Long Snapper — I took a fair bit of good-natured ribbing for my spotlight article on the long-snapper position and my suggestion that the Football Team might draft Cameron Cheeseman this weekend. I’m not gonna say “I told you so” because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life hearing about how I championed Thaddeus Moss as the answer to the team’s backup tight end role earlier this offseason. I’m gonna assume that being right on one and wrong on the other cancel each other out and restore me to a clean slate.
Running back – This is the one position that looked thin that wasn’t addressed in the draft. After releasing Bryce Love, Javon Leake and Michael Warren in the past few weeks, it was clear that the team needed to add one or two backs for training camp. As mentioned earlier in the article, there has been a report that Buffalo’s Jaret Petterson will be signed this week. This always looked like fertile ground for a UDFA since the team returns all three of its top running backs from last season along with veteran Lamar Miller.
Quarterback – Comments from Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew indicate that the team might’ve drafted a quarterback if the right guy was there at the right pick, but that they didn’t plan to chase one by trading up. As it turned out, they didn’t address the position, and it looks like the team will go to camp with Fitzpatrick, Heinicke, Allen and Montez, which should be fine for the 2021 season. A decision looms, however, as the team will need a long-term solution sooner rather than later.