“All that’s left to do is sit back and let the kudos start rolling in.”
I may have butchered that Mr. Burns quote from the classic animated show, The Simpsons, but I think it accurately describes the situation the Washington Redskins find themselves in with the 2020 NFL Draft right around the corner.
This is the time of year when your average Redskins fan says something along the lines of, “I just know they’re going to screw this up.”
I can’t say that I blame them for that lack of faith, either.
After all, Washington’s owner is Daniel Snyder, the same man who once paid Albert Haynesworth a lot of money. The Redskins have made so many questionable decisions under Snyder—in coaching, free agency and the draft—it’s easy to forget that they were once one of the marquee franchises in the NFL—a national team, if you will.
But they don’t have to worry about screwing anything up this year. Why? They have the number two pick in the draft—or one pick after the Bengals must pass on Chase Young in order to select quarterback Joe Burrow of LSU.
Young, the 6’5”, 265 edge-rusher from Ohio State, is the Jalen Ramsey or Nick Bosa of this year’s draft. In other words, he’s the top player on just about every draft board, and since he’s not a quarterback, you can pretty much take his draft stock at face-value.
The thing about quarterbacks is their stock tends to be over-inflated more often than not. For every John Elway and Peyton Manning, NFL Draft history is littered with countless guys like Tim Couch and JaMarcus Russell—number one picks whose draft stocks were inflated due to the critical importance of the position and teams in desperate need of a transformative passer.
The Bengals, the franchise that currently owns the top draft position, are one such team in desperate need.
But is Burrow the answer?
In a world where quarterbacks didn’t matter as much, they may not have to find out--Young would almost surely be the Bengals choice on Thursday. I’m certainly no expert on football talent, but I know an awesome talent when I see it. It doesn’t take a genius to see that, barring a serious injury or some unfortunate off-the-field issue, Young is likely going to be a pick-and-plug superstar, a player whose Wikipedia page will one day list his many Pro Bowl and First-team All-Pro honors.
Unfortunately, someone can be a mega-superstar defender and still spend his career playing for a floundering franchise.
And that’s why the Bengals must go with Burrow. If Burrow is closer to Elway and Manning than he is to Couch and Russell, Cincinnati will likely spend the next decade dominating the AFC North and probably the NFL.
But if Burrow is closer to Couch and Russell, the Bengals will likely be in a similar draft position in the not-so-distant future.
The Redskins have no such worries. Even if Young flames out, nobody can look back and say they reached for a guy out of desperation and need—and if they do, they will be writing revisionist history.
Besides, Washington spent its first of two 2019 first-round picks on a quarterback, fellow Ohio State alum Dwayne Haskins Jr. To take a quarterback in the first round one year later would be admitting a huge mistake—and there’s no hard evidence as of yet that Haskins will be a bust.
Unlike Washington, the Bengals don’t have a potential star quarterback on their roster.
And that’s why the Redskins are in the most envious draft slot this time around. I mean, to be in position to pick the best overall player and not have to worry about possibly reaching for a quarterback? That has to feel pretty good for a franchise that’s been trying to turn the corner back to respectability for quite some time. Will they get it right this year? It’s impossible to say for sure, but even if they don’t, it won’t be because they were wrong.