WASHINGTON — For 31 NFL teams, the end of the season is a sad time. The team did not win the Super Bowl, and even if it accomplished more than originally hoped or expected, it didn’t lead to a title, and therefore things could have gone better.
With the Redskins of the past two decades and counting, a postseason appearance is about as optimistic as fans are allowed to reasonably get. Washington missed the playoffs again this season, ending the 2016 journey with a New Year’s Day loss to the New York Giants. Now, it’s time to move on and worry about the 2017 season.
A few things must happen before that season can begin, however. The Redskins will need to figure out what their coaching staff will look like, which they can’t finalize until they know whether or not offensive coordinator Sean McVay will stick around. He is set to interview for the head coaching job of the Los Angeles Rams, and he could have other interviews, as well.
There is also, of course, free agency and the craziness that is that period.
But perhaps bigger than anything else is the draft. The draft is where front offices truly make their money, and it’s where the Redskins need some magic. The 2016 draft class was not very good for Washington, and one could make the case for it being legitimately bad. The draft was originally praised, for what it’s worth, but first-round pick Josh Doctson missing virtually the entire season with injury was a huge hit against the team.
Now, it’s time to move onto the next batch, and what better to get fans’ minds off the 2016 season than to look at some mock drafts for 2017? The Redskins, as was decided on Sunday with the loss, will have the 17th overall pick. Here are some things they could do with that pick.
First, let’s take a quick glance at the newest mock draft put out by SB Nation, which was published first thing Monday morning. Dan Kadar, SB Nation’s draft expert, forecasts the Redskins taking speedy wide receiver John Ross in the first round.
The Redskins’ biggest needs, by all accounts, are defensive line, inside linebacker and safety. They could also use some help on the offensive line, a starting running back would be a nice addition and sure, another receiver to replace the DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, neither of which is guaranteed to return next season.
But if the Redskins draft another receiver in the first round, fans might riot. There was some discontent around Washington when GM Scot McCloughan opted for Doctson, seemingly preparing for the future as both Garcon and Jackson are free agents this offseason and could leave town, leaving the Redskins with a receiving corps of essentially Jamison Crowder, Doctson and Maurice Harris. With the defense looking shoddy at best entering the 2016 season, there were plenty of needs on that side of the ball more pressing than receiver.
However, needs-based drafting isn’t really McCloughan’s style. He prefers to draft the best player available, regardless of position, and he evidently saw Doctson as a better player than any of the defenders on the board. So be it.
That said, if the Redskins draft another receiver in the first round, McCloughan would be playing with fire.
Kadar has the Redskins selecting defensive tackle Montravius Adams in the second round (pick No. 49), for what it’s worth. That’s interesting, in that Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the Redskins picking Adams with the 17th pick.
Adding fuel to the fire, Todd McShay of ESPN.com put out his first mock draft in mid-December, back when the Redskins were slated to get the No. 22 pick. The player he projected Washington to take? Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster of USC. A 6-foot-2 playmaker who is closer to the Garcon mold than the Jackson mold, Smith-Schuster has a good chance to be a star in the NFL.
But he’s also a receiver, and the Redskins defense is desperate for help. It would be tough for Washington to overcome the loss of both Garcon and Jackson, but with Crowder enjoying a breakout season and Doctson theoretically being healthy, that’s a start. Add in tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis (if Davis stays in Washington), and that’s a very capable group. One or two more weapons would be a nice leisure to have, but a quality safety is a necessity for this defense, and the front seven is mediocre at absolute best.
Perhaps taking a look at mock drafts wasn’t the best way to get Redskins fans’ spirits up, after all.