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NFC East Review: Evaluating the Washington Football Team’s 2021 draft class

How did the Football Team do in the 2021 NFL Draft?

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - North Carolina State v Kentucky Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

North Dakota State’s Trey Lance...is not on the Washington Football Team.

Despite the rumors about Washington potentially going “all in” and trading up for a quarterback, the Football Team stayed put at No. 19 and did not draft any quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. Thirty-eight-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick is the team’s starter next season, with Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke serving as backups.

While selecting a potential franchise quarterback in this year’s draft would have been exciting, Washington elected to practice patience - a virtue Ron Rivera has preached all offseason. Back in March, Rivera told the media, “We’re not desperate” and that has proven to be true.

The Football Team addressed their major needs in free agency, beginning with the addition of Fitzpatrick. They added receiving help in Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries and replaced cornerback Ronald Darby with William Jackson III. For Washington, the draft was about filling out remaining holes and adding depth.

Below is the complete list of players selected by the Football Team in the 2021 NFL Draft:

  • Round 1, pick 19 – Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky
  • Round 2, pick 51 – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
  • Round 3, pick 74 – Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Minnesota
  • Round 3, pick 82 – Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
  • Round 4, pick 124 – John Bates, TE, Boise State
  • Round 5, pick 163 – Darrick Forrest, S, Cincinnati
  • Round 6, pick 225 (from PHI) – Camaron Cheeseman, LS, Michigan
  • Round 7, pick 240 (From SF through PHI) – William Bradley-King, DE, Baylor
  • Round 7, pick 246 – Shaka Toney, DE, Penn State
  • Round 7, pick 258 (from KC through MIA) – Dax Milne, WR, BYU

A quick look at the positions drafted reveals that Washington focused on both sides of the ball. But because the Football Team boasted one of the best defense’s in the league last season, finishing second in yards allowed per game with 304.6, it’s important to note that the defense managed to somehow get even stronger last week.

Let’s take a closer look at Washington’s 10 picks in this year’s draft.

First-round analysis

Washington was looking to add versatility and speed at the cornerback position and it got both in Jamin Davis, who can cover and play inside. The main concern with Davis is his lack of experience. He played 36 games in college, but started only 11. His final collegiate season was strong though as he recorded 144 tackles, four tackles for loss and three interceptions.

With his wide length and pass-catching background, Davis has the potential to make an immediate impact in Washington. His presence solidifies Washington’s front seven as one of, if not the best, in the NFL.

While this was a strong pick for Washington, it’s important to acknowledge other moves they could have made here. As stated earlier, the Football Team did not draft a quarterback despite knowing that they need a young signal caller. But perhaps Washington is thinking like the Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid built the team up piece by piece for five years before trading up to draft Patrick Mahomes in 2017. We all know how that’s worked out.

Instead of quarterback, Washington also could have addressed its other offensive needs at No. 19 as the offense was ranked in the bottom seven in both points and yards in 2020. But instead the Football Team elected to make its defense even stronger, knowing the importance of being able to stop opposing offenses.

Positions of need met one by one

Washington’s biggest hole after free agency was at the left tackle position. After going defense in the first round, the Football Team drafted OT Samuel Cosmi out of Texas in the second round. Washington will still in search of a starting left tackle to replace Trent Williams and Cosmi can step in alongside Morgan Moses on the right.

Cosmi is a good fit for Washington both on and off the field. He started eight games last season before opting out and he started all but one his 35 career games. In 2020, Cosmi was a team captain and a first-team All-Big 12 pick.

Washington’s offensive line is slowly growing in strength. Cosmi joins Moses, newly-acquired Ereck Flowers, Chase Roullier and Brandon Scherff. The Football Team’s defensive line was already strong and the offensive line is shaping up to be a force to be reckoned with as well.

After Cosmi, Washington continued to draft complementary players as though they were crossing items off of a check list.

The Football Team was in need of depth at cornerback and drafted Minnesota CB Benjamin St-Juste in the third round. St-Juste began his college career at Michigan before transferring to Minnesota, where he started just 14 games over the past two seasons after missing the 2018 season due to injury. Though he was projected to be drafted later on some boards, Washington believes that he will only continue to come into his own in the NFL.

Dyami Brown, a wide receiver selected in the third round, and John Bates, a tight end out of Boise State, will add more depth on offense. Brown will fill out a Washington receiving corps that has grown significantly in strength this offseason while Bates can serve as another pass-catcher alongside Logan Thomas.

On the third day, Washington drafted two young edge rushers in William Bradley King and Shaka Toney. While defensive end is not a pressing need for the Football Team, it is smart to invest in young prospects who could developing into strong backups behind Chase Young and Montez Sweat.

The takeaway

The Washington Football Team’s 2021 NFL Draft was not flashy but strategic and measured. One by one, GM Martin Mayhew and Ron Rivera are putting the pieces in place to create a strong and balanced football team. Next offseason, Washington will address its quarterback question either in free agency or the draft, where there will be many more opportunities to evaluate players as the world slowly transitions back to normal. Washington is not concerned right now about who who will play under center long-term and so fans should not necessarily be worried either. With each passing day, the Football Team looks less like the team that won three games in 2019 and is well positioned to defend its NFC East title.