PHOENIX — The Washington Redskins haven’t made the playoffs in three years, which means one thing: They need to win now. And though they need a quarterback, finding one in the first round of the NFL draft might not accomplish that desire.
That’s why other spots could be higher on their to-do list with the 15th pick in the draft, which is April 25-27 (ESPN and ESPN App) in Nashville, Tennessee.
If the Redskins add a quarterback, coach Jay Gruden provided insight into what he’s expecting:
“There is no developmental process here,” Gruden said. “This is not Triple-A baseball; we’re [not] trying to develop a pitcher here. We’re trying to win a game right now. If we draft a quarterback in the first, second, third or seventh rounds and he’s going to start Day 1, we expect great things from him.
“Players will expect great things from him. Ryan Kerrigan is not expecting us to come out and ‘let’s build for the future.’ We’ve got to win now. Josh Norman, same way. Landon Collins did not come here to be good in 2034. They came here to be good and compete to win a Super Bowl this year.”
At No. 15, there’s no guarantee a quarterback they like falls to them — let alone one ready to start. The Redskins do have Colt McCoy and Case Keenum, but they need a long-term answer at quarterback with Alex Smith‘s future in doubt. And there’s a solid chance they end up trading for Arizona quarterback Josh Rosen.
With Gruden likely entering the season on the hot seat, he needs immediate help from the first-round pick.
“Every one of these coaches feel they have to win now,” Redskins president Bruce Allen said at the recent NFL owners meetings in Arizona.
If the Redskins do want to win now, here are other areas to address in the first round:
Edge rusher: The Redskins let Preston Smith leave via free agency knowing they could always draft his successor. They also have Ryan Anderson, a second-round pick in 2017 who sets a violent edge but who must prove himself as a pass-rusher. Even if Anderson started opposite Kerrigan, they could use more help. They also have little depth, and they liked to rotate their outside linebackers the past two years. They helped the run defense by signing Collins; now they need to address third downs. They ranked 29th on third downs last season, and their 14 third-down sacks were tied for 26th. They had many coverage issues, but they lacked a speed rusher who could instantly threaten a quarterback. They can find one at No. 15.
Offensive playmaker: That could be a receiver or even a tight end. The Redskins have Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis at tight end, but they lack a tight end who is adept at both blocking and pass-catching, and it has led to personnel groupings that are heavily skewed to either a run or pass. Also, Davis is 35 and counts $6.3 million against the salary cap. The feeling has been Davis would stick around because he can still run — unless Washington finds an alternative in the draft. Reed is talented and productive when healthy, but he’s 28, oft injured and counts more than $9 million against the cap in each of the next three seasons.
Then there’s this: The Redskins ranked 29th in reception yardage and their receivers were last in the league. Their receivers combined for 20 passes that gained 20 or more yards — ahead of only Arizona. The Redskins do have speedy receiver Paul Richardson returning from injury. But durability has been a major impediment to his career. A tight end who can make plays, such as Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson, must be considered. There’s depth at receiver in this draft, so the likelihood is that Washington would add one after the first round.
Defensive back: Adding Collins helps, but they still have a hole at the other safety position. Montae Nicholson would be the guy, but the Redskins don’t know yet what to expect from him. After all, they traded for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix midway through last season, leaving Nicholson on the bench. Then he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault in December and was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list for the final three games. He has a court date in May. In his first two years, he flashed signs of being a good safety, but he hasn’t stayed on the field. If not safety, the Redskins could always use another high-caliber cornerback.
Offensive line: It’s hard to imagine Washington going this direction with the first-round pick. The Redskins do need line depth after enduring two consecutive years of heavy injuries along the front. They also could use more competition at left guard, where they hope Ereck Flowers can become a quality player there after transitioning from tackle. But it’s not a spot they must address in the first round, not with a need — and the ability — to add a playmaker on either side of the ball.