Snider: Redskins Should Resist Offensive Stars in Draft

by Rick Snider

With needs aplenty and choices, too, figure the Washington Redskins to make a marketing splash with their first-round selection on April 27.

The Redskins will surely look at defensive linemen and linebackers, but a running back, speedy receiver or quarterback is a possibility, too. After all, who picked Washington to take receiver Josh Doctson in the first round last year? Nobody, that’s who.

The logical choice would be either Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster or Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers. Any of the three fills a need.

But so would Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, Washington receiver John Ross, North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and Clemson passer Deshaun Watson.

Redskins fans unhappy with the offseason dismissal of general manager Scot McCloughan and sitting on their season-ticket renewals want a playmaker. And while defense wins games, offense sells tickets and that’s the Redskins Way.

Still, taking a quarterback would essentially tell Kirk Cousins he’s either being traded or playing one season. Frankly, why keep Cousins with his successor on the roster? Better to play Colt McCoy for a season while getting the rookie ready and trade Cousins for whatever the market offers.

That’s still an option, but an improbable one. Most likely, Watson is gone before the Redskins pick and probably Trubisky, too. Despite naysayers, passers always go higher than expected a month out from the draft. Panic buying sets in and teams leave their board rankings and select a quarterback.

Ross is a perfect replacement for departed DeSean Jackson. Washington only signed Terrelle Pryor for one year, and Ross’ 4.22 seconds over 40 yards at the NFL Combine is Darrell Green kind of fast. But can the Redskins really keep investing in the offense when the defense undermined last year’s playoff chances?

The Redskins haven’t taken a running back in the first round since 1967 so why would they pick Cook? For starters, they really need a running back and Ezekiel Elliott proved last season it’s OK to invest in the ground game once more.

Still, 50 years since taking a running back? That’s a weird trend that may say something. The Redskins have picked up some of their best runners off other rosters like John Riggins, Terry Allen and Clinton Portis.

Maybe fans prefer 30-27 scores than 21-17. It’s what makes the NFL so popular. But the Redskins have lost too many shootouts to ignore the defense. The line is worse than last season after swapping veterans Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois for two journeymen and that’s saying something given Washington was 24th against the run.

The Redskins should grab a defensive playmaker in the first round and even the second, but the lure of offensive firepower too often wins out in draft rooms.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.

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