- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2019

ASHBURN — Don’t blame Redskins fans who felt conflicted during Sunday’s game against the New York Giants. Sure, wins have come few and far between in 2019, but as the Redskins erased a double-digit deficit, it appeared they were blowing their shot at a generational pass rusher by losing the draft position they probably need to select Ohio State’s Chase Young.

That’s right. At this point of the year, fans are arguably more concerned about the team’s upcoming draft position than winning games.

But the Redskins ultimately lost — won? — Sunday. Things may change if the Redskins win Sunday against the Cowboys, but right now, they are sitting in the No. 2 slot — a position that could make Christmases merrier for years to come for the franchise and its beleaguered fans.

Here’s a look at some of the gifts this year’s draft could deliver the Redskins up after the holiday season.

Chase Young, Ohio State edge rusher

Call it whatever you want — “The Race for Chase,” “The Chase for Chase,” “The Chase Young Bowl” — but there are plenty of justified reasons why the derby for Young has garnered so much attention.

Not since South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney in 2014 has the NFL seen a pass rusher of this caliber. At 6-foot-5, Young has been a destructive force with elite speed and power. His 16 ½ sacks in 2019 are more than 15 FCS teams. This year, the 20-year-old finished fourth in Heisman voting — becoming the fourth defensive player in NCAA history to be named a finalist.

Ironically, the Redskins’ greatest strength might be along their defensive line with Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan as their edge rushers. But Young’s skill set is too good to pass up, said Dane Brugler, a draft analyst for The Athletic.

“I don’t care whatever pass rushers you have on your roster, you have to take a talent like that,” Brugler said. “It’s the type of talent that reshapes your defense, that can immediately translate to wins in your win-loss column.”

The only reason Young is likely to go second in this year’s draft is because of LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s rise. The Heisman winner, Burrow is an Ohio native who is in line to be taken by the Cincinnati Bengals. That means Young will fall to the Redskins, as long as they don’t blow it by upsetting the Cowboys or trading away the pick.

Jerry Jeudy, Alabama wide receiver

 If the Redskins don’t end up with the second overall pick, whether they trade back or win in Week 17, then it makes sense for the Redskins to consider pairing an elite wide receiver with quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

In that case, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy could be the man for the job.

Ranked third overall in ESPN’s mock draft, analyst Todd McShay said last week Jeudy is the “best route runner” he has ever evaluated over his 20 years of experience. Specifically, McShay highlighted the way the 20-year-old is able to get in and out of breaks at the top of his routes — noting his footwork separates him from other faster, shiftier wide receivers in the draft. With the Crimson Tide, Jeudy had 71 catches for 959 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019.

The Redskins have a nice young core of receivers in Steven Sims, Kelvin Harmon and Terry McLaurin. But the group could still use a further upgrade as the Redskins haven’t gotten consistent production from their wideouts outside of McLaurin, the rookie who needs just 81 yards against to reach the 1,000-yard marker.

Washington, though, could opt until the later rounds to address the position as this year’s draft figures to be loaded at wide receiver.

“I don’t know if we have a Julio Jones necessarily in this draft class, but the overall depth of guys that could come in from Day 1 and contribute and play an integral role in an offense, I think that’s really, really staggering,” Brugler said.

Andrew Thomas, Georgia

Seeing as Trent Williams is likely to be traded this offseason, the Redskins will have a massive hole at left tackle in the spring. 37-year-old Donald Penn has done a serviceable job filling in for the four-time Pro Bowler, but the Redskins need a long-term answer at the position.

Washington’s Geron Christian, a seldom-used third-round pick from 2018, also doesn’t seem to be the solution as interim coach Bill Callahan said last week that he doesn’t think the Louisville product has done enough to be a starter next year.

“You never know, but have we seen enough to make a determination whether he’ll be the starter? Honestly speaking, not enough at this time,” Callahan said. “I think next year’s OTAs, training camp and the competition that takes place during that time I think will give us a little bit more information, especially with another offseason behind him.”

If the Redskins lean toward tackle, this is a draft that features quality prospects at the top.

“It’s exactly what the NFL is looking for right now,” said Brugler, who has mocked six offensive tackles in the first round. “A lot of teams need offensive line help, whether it’s just for depth or are looking to replace starters. Offensive tackle really stands out.”

Thomas, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound prospect, is generally regarded as the draft’s top left tackle. “It doesn’t always look clean with him, but he gets the job done,” Brugler said. Thomas is regarded as having inconsistent technique and balance issues, but has the athleticism to intrigue teams.

Outside of Thomas, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills and Iowa’s Tristian Wirfs are also regarded as elite prospects. Willis, for what it’s worth, plays right tackle, but protected left-handed quarterback Tua Tagovalioa’s blindside.



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