Entering the 2018 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins had clear and obvious needs. Cornerback, interior defensive line, running back, and offensive line depth all needed to be addressed. The Redskins took swings at those holes, but did they make contact?
1st Round – 13th Overall – Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)
With the Redskins presumed pick, Washingon’s DT Vita Vea, sniped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it could be speculated that this caused a panic in the war room. Regardless, they entered the day needing to bolster their 29th ranked DVOA rush defense (per Football Outsiders) and did so with the 311-pound Payne.
Alabama DT Da'Ron Payne from the 0 tech just ragdolling dudes. Had to look em up, 6'2" 319 going to be a Junior this year. pic.twitter.com/9mT70c6lk8— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) May 7, 2017
The Redskins were not scared off by Payne’s lack of production as a pass rusher (3 career sacks in 44 games played), instead banking on his standout performance against Georgia in the National Championship being a true representation of his pass rush abilities. Alabama often asked Payne to occupy gaps, allowing his linebackers clean paths to the ball, which he did well and explains his 5 career tackles for loss.
Payne is a surprising athlete with violent, heavy hands, but needs development and consistency regarding his initial pad level and pass rush toolbox. The Redskins can afford to wait on that upside to be reached while he contributes in the run game, as second year interior linemen Matt Ioannidis and Jonathan Allen will likely carry the bulk of those passing down responsibilities.
Overall, there were other interior linemen with more proven production, but Payne provides an instant upgrade over Ziggy Hood and fills out a defensive line in sore need of a run stuffer.
2nd Round – 59th Overall – Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)
As rumors flew around the Guice’s “character issues”, the Redskins ended up benefitting by cashing in on the best pure runner in the class. Adding to a stable with Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine, Guice brings plus vision, burst, and a glass-eating finishing mentality to a run game that lacked bark and bite, ranking 28th DVOA.
LSU RB Derrius Guice has all the tools of a bellcow. Vision to see it, burst to run through it, contact balance to finish it. pic.twitter.com/33NSZ5Y7k1— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) March 20, 2018
Along with poor efficiency in the ground game, the Redskins also ranked bottom five in the league for rushing yards per game, rushing first downs per game, and yards per carry. The addition of Guice gives newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith a new toy to prop his consistently pedestrian production.
3rd Round – 74th Overall – Geron Christian (OT, Louisville)
The Redskins were decimated by injuries along their offensive line last year so it should come as no surprise that adding to their depth would be a priority. Christian is a project with desirable tools (athleticism, length), but lacks the technique to provide an immediate impact. Surrendering 12 sacks over the last 3 years at Louisville, there’s a possibility that Christian or swing tackle Ty Nsekhe could kick inside to guard. Regardless of the immediate impact, this selection provides much needed depth to an injury riddled offensive line.
4th Round – 109th Overall - Troy Apke (S, Penn State)
A great example of what the Underwear Olympics can do for a prospects’ stock, Apke went far earlier than expected after turning in an elite NFL Combine. Apke’s film showed him to be late to diagnose or too eager to recklessly fly upfield with poor angles, rendering his timed speed useless in the face of poor mental processing and recognition. Still, he turned heads when he burned a 4.34 40-yard dash (99th percentile), 6.56 3-cone (96th percentile), 41” vertical jump (95th percentile), 131” broad jump (94th percentile), and 4.03 20-yard shuttle (90th percentile). The Redskins are taking a swing at athleticism, hoping they can turn Apke into something resembling a finished product with some years of development.
5th Round – 163rd Overall – Tim Settle (DT, Virginia Tech)
The exact opposite of the Apke selection, Settle’s NFL Combine testing put his athleticism on the same level as a cinderblock. After a bizarre two week stretch of hype that bolstered his draft stock in the eyes of many, stock some were bullish on letting go, things around Settle quieted down after he labored through every portion of a 5.22 40-yard dash and an hour glass filling 20-yard shuttle. On film, Settle found the ground more than he found the ball, showing the balance of a man with an perpetual inner ear infection.
Jokes aside, Settle’s tape did show a tad more athleticism than what he displayed at the Combine, and he was only a one-year starter, so there is hope for the Redskins that there is more than meets the eyes with Settle.
6th Round – 197th Overall – Shaun Dion Hamilton (LB, Alabama)
Rashaan Evan’s running mate at Alabama, Hamilton has solid film but a troubling history of serious knee injuries. Possessing good range, solid football intelligence and coverage skills, the Redskins will have to hope Hamilton can stay healthy and return to his pre-injury athleticism.
7th Round – 241st Overall – Greg Stroman (CB, Virginia Tech)
After losing Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade, nickel cornerback became a need for the Redskins and Stroman has a outside shot at starter reps in his rookie campaign despite a full cornerback room. He will need a couple of years in an offseason program to add bulk to his frame if he intends on holding up at the next level, but he’s plenty twitched up with fluid athleticism. As with most Virginia Tech players over the years, Stroman has a path to earn reps on special teams coverages and also as a returner.
7th Round – 256th Overall – Trey Quinn (WR, SMU)
The best Mr. Irrelevant in recent memory, Quinn hauled in 114 catches for 1,236 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Mustangs last year. He’s a perfect pairing for the conservative Alex Smith, as Quinn is a heady player when identifying and settling in coverage voids. He’s not the most eye-popping athlete, but he runs crisp routes and wins with technique to create separation. Don’t be surprised if Quinn becomes a high-volume slot target for the Redskins in the next three years.
Trey Quinn pressing vertical, adjusts his stem outside and keeps his eyes on the DB.— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) February 20, 2018
Steps on DB's toes, ultra quick snap back to QB with sunken hips and defined angle to front pylon.
Defined angle forces DB to play through him, and DB is unable to "match hands" as a result pic.twitter.com/ZPxUTzn8S9
Overall, the Redskins took swings at their top three needs (CB, DL, RB), and while Payne may have been a reach according to where I graded him (mid-2nd round), you could switch his and Guice’s selection and come away impressed. There’s too much wait and see with this group to make instant judgments, but the sheer amount of questions surrounding this group is enough to give pause.