NFL Draft Day history offers lessons for Washington Football Team

The Washington Football Team has eight selections in the 2021 NFL Draft, and as recent history shows us, there will be plenty of chances for the Burgundy and Gold to get players who either produce or miss the mark.

What sort of players might be available when Washington’s turn comes up?

We look back at recent history and find the best player and the “bust” player picked in each spot. And given Washington’s highs and lows on Draft Day, we also look at the last player they’ve chosen with each pick.

First Round (19)

This is where you need to find your future stars and faces of your franchise. Hall of Famers like Randall McDaniel and Marvin Harrison have been taken here. Getting a starter is paramount. Getting a non-productive player is egg on your face.

Best: Dallas took linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in 2018, and the Boise State product made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He’s averaged 10 starts a year in his career.

Bust: Buffalo picked Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson in 2016, and while he’s notched 20.5 career sacks, he’s only started 24 games in his five-year career.

Burgundy and Gold: Washington hasn’t chosen a player 19th overall since 1952. George Washington defensive back Andy Davis started six of eight games played as a rookie before being injured during the next preseason.

Second Round (51)

Many GMs like the second round, because they get the talent without the entitlement. Washington’s most famous second round was in 2008, when they selected three receivers who produced minimally and helped end the Vinny Cerrato era.

Best: In 2019, Tennessee took Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown, who has posted a pair of thousand-yard seasons for the Titans.

Bust: New York Jets choice Christian Hackenberg had a checkered career at Penn State, and after being picked in 2016, failed to get into a game with the Jets before being traded to Oakland. He also failed to see regular-season action with the Raiders, then with the Eagles and Bengals.

Burgundy and Gold: In 2013, Washington picked N.C. State defensive back David Amerson, who would start 23 games over two-plus years before being waived.

Third round (74)

Plenty of quality players are still available, although by this time, teams begin to look towards needs if they haven’t addressed glaring ones already. You can still find gems like Russell Wilson or Travis Kelce.

Best: Buffalo took Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary in 2019, and last fall he rushed for 687 yards while making 38 catches for the AFC East winners.

Bust: Kansas City selected cornerback Keivarae Russell in 2016, and the Chiefs waived the Notre Dame product that September. He’d play three years with Cincinnati and another with Green Bay.

Burgundy and Gold: Washington took offensive tackle Geron Christian 74th overall in 2018, and before being injured last year, the Louisville product was a starter for the team.

Third round (82)

Whoever is chosen here will make history for Washington. I looked up and down Pro Football Reference, and unless I’m seeing things, the team has never had the 82nd pick. So there’s that.

Best: Tennessee chose Charlotte guard Nate Davis in 2019, and he’s proceeded to become a two-year starter for the Titans.

Bust: Denver picked Louisiana Tech wide receiver Carlos Henderson in 2017, and he never got past the practice squad.

Burgundy and Gold: While they’ve yet to choose 82nd, they did take Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley 81st overall from Utah State in 2005. And after being picked 83rd in 1984, Jay Schroeder would go on to set the team record for passing yards in a season (held until 2015). Finally, Charles Mann (84th in 1983) was a mainstay on the defensive line for a decade.

Fourth Round (124)

Day Three of the draft offers up roster-padding with players, but you can still find a Dak Prescott or Kirk Cousins in this round. Caveat emptor.

Best: It gets tricky here as nobody selected in this spot from 2016 to 2020 has taken off. Detroit took Tennessee outside linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin in 2017, and he’s played in 55 games with three starts for the Lions.

Bust: While nobody has soared, nobody chosen here in the last five years has necessarily sunk. Seattle picked Wake Forest guard Phil Haynes in 2019, and he’s played in a pair of games over the last two years.

Burgundy and Gold: Arizona State defensive back Justin Tryon was the pick here in 2008, and after playing 29 games (with two starts) was one of the many who were ushered out when new coach Mike Shanahan cleaned house in 2010.

Fifth round (163)

This is where the dartboard imagery begins to take effect. You might get a starter, a depth player, or perhaps a special teamer. You might find a Richard Sherman or Stefon Diggs in this round. You may even get a Tarleton State linebacker named E.J. Speed like Indianapolis did in 2019.

Best: Buffalo picked Boston College linebacker Matt Milano in 2018, and he’s started 38 of 54 games played for the Bills to help bring the team back to the AFC East throne room.

Bust: Green Bay selected Cal wide receiver Trevor Davis in 2016, and he’s currently on his third team in the league.

Burgundy and Gold: Virginia Tech’s Tim Settle was the choice in 2018, and the defensive tackle notched five sacks last fall to help the team win the NFC East. He’s played in 47 of 48 regular-season games.

Seventh round (244)

I’m not saying you can’t find players here, but the Chris Carsons (taken 249th in 2017) and even the Ryan Fitzpatricks (250th in 2005) are few and far between.

Best: Minnesota picked Jayron Kearse in 2016, and the Clemson safety played in 62 games for the Vikings before making seven starts with Detroit last year. He’s currently on the Ravens’ roster.

Bust: Chicago took a flier on Georgia wide receiver Javon Wims in 2018, and while he hasn’t been the most productive in his seven career starts, he does have Mitch Trubisky throwing him the football.

Burgundy and Gold: Cincinnati running back Jesse Taylor was taken here by George Allen in 1971. He’d never play in D.C., spending one season as a special teamer with San Diego.

Seventh round (246)

Perhaps Washington might shore up the secondary?  The team has taken five defensive backs in the seventh round over the last four years.

Best: Pittsburgh chose Tyler Matakevich from Temple in 2016, and the outside linebacker played 79 games for the Steelers and Buffalo over the last five years.

Bust: Dallas took Colorado defensive tackle Jordan Carrell in 2017, while Pittsburgh selected Alabama defensive tackle Joshua Frazier in 2018. Neither got past the practice squad level.

Burgundy and Gold: The most recent Washington pick at this spot was in 1977, when they took Purdue running back Mike Northington. He never appeared in a regular-season game.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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