With the 2016 NFL Draft now in the books and undrafted rookie free agents being signed, just how well have the Skins done at addressing their needs for the upcoming season?
Most draft reviews have graded Washington’s class in a very favorable fashion. As the organization added seven high caliber “football players” at a number of positions.
However there were many perceived needs prior to this past Thursday’s kickoff of draft festivities, not directly addressed– when compared to the players landed by the end of day three (defensive line, starter/change of pace running back).
- 1st – Josh Doctson, WR TCU
- 2nd – Su’a Cravens, LB/S USC
- 3rd – Kendall Fuller, CB VTech
- 5th – Matt Ioannidis, DE Temple
- 6th – Nate Sudfeld, QB Indiana
- 7th – Steven Daniels, LB BC
- 7th – Keith Marshall, RB Georgia
The surprise free agent acquisition of Josh Norman, afforded the franchise the opportunity to shift their focus for the draft. Prior to Thursday, it was all but a forgone conclusion that the 21st pick in the first round, would be used to select the best fit at one of the positions that occupy the middle of your defense (DT, ILB, S). And with only Karl Joseph, the top rated pure safety in this year’s class being viewed as a fringe first rounder, most mocks zeroed in on defensive tackles or linebacker being the selection.
Insert movement at the top of the draft at picks #1 and #2, followed by the Bosa & the Gas Mask Show (which sounds like the name of a show on Adult Swim).
The combination of San Diego’s drafting of the DE from Ohio State and the free fall of Laremy Tunsil, the athletic left tackle out of Ole Miss thanks to a next level social media hacking job, ushered in a flurry of both good value and reach picks for the teams that followed. After trading back one slot, a difference making receiver was not a need for a team with questions on defense. But when two of the top three WR’s in the class were available after moving back one slot, there was no way the Skins were passing.
After adding the 6’2″ talented walk-on turned All-American Doctson, they followed that up in the second round with a hybrid type of player in Cravens. One who can play in the box at safety or as a subpackage coverage linebacker against spread formations. Then in the third, they landed a talented legacy corner in Kendall Fuller (coming off of microfracture surgery). Adding three seemingly very capable players to the roster.
On day three, the selection of Ioannidis a rumored relentless and high motor prospect, addressed a need to add some youth to the defensive line. While three other positions of need received attention at QB (Sudfeld- big & accurate passer to develop), ILB (Daniels- thumper in the middle) and running back (Marshall- major talent, who battled injury concerns in college).
In looking over this class, my only real issue, is the lack of adding a traditional nose tackle to the squad. Big Swaggy is on record as saying he’s not a fan of moving to the middle and with his production last year at end, I don’t blame him. Which leaves Kedric Golston as the potential zero technique on the roster, with the departure of Terrance Knighton.
In Joe Barry’s attacking 34 scheme, there are instances of having more of a 43 look at times. So time will tell if not having a true space eater in the middle will hurt the team going forward. Does Ioannidis, who played some nose at Temple get a look here in the pros? Is he a better fit for what Joe Barry wants out of that position? Stay tuned.
Of the seven players selected, Doctson and Marshall are the one’s that I’m personally most looking forward to seeing on the field. Because of what they bring in places of need. Marshall, if he can get past his injury issues, was viewed as an elite level runner in a scary talented Georgia backfield that once was home to last year’s NFL offensive rookie of the year Todd Gurley and current Bulldog RB Nick Chubb. While Cravens probably has the most potential to have an immediate impact on the field if all things fall as hoped, both defensively and on special teams.
There is one major key that can not go unmentioned following the 2016 NFL Draft. The ability of Scot’s team to stick to their board and go best player available versus drafting purely for need. It says a lot about how far the franchise and roster has come, and where it appears to be headed.