The Washington Redskins are in a good position to address two of their biggest needs in the upcoming NFL Draft. Lacking impact players along the defensive line and at running back, Washington must upgrade both positions.
For the past three seasons, the Washington Redskins have struggled to do two things: Stop the run and consistently generate a rushing offense.
Within the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins would be wise to address these issues. Washington selected Jonathan Allen with the No. 17 overall pick in 2017. Allen was the first defensive lineman selected by the Redskins in the first round in 20 years. After decades of neglect, Washington should once again invest in the defensive line with its first pick in this year’s draft. Why?
Because the Redskins face Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys twice a year. The defending Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, finished with a top ten rushing offense in each of the past two seasons, and to make matters worse, the New York Giants, per Dan Schneier of 247 Sports, have fallen for former Penn State star Saquon Barkley. They’re in position to draft Barkley No. 2 overall, if they like him more than the other options.
With the division’s running threats only growing stronger, the Redskins could be in play to upgrade the defensive line at No. 13. Vita Vea would be a dream scenario for Washington. A nightmare for offensive lines throughout the PAC-12, Vea’s size and strength (6-foot-4, 347) enables him to bully the competition. Other teams are in need of a run-stuffing presence and Vea is possibly the best run defender in the draft. He will be coveted.
Alabama’s Da’Ron Payne is another option, if the Washington Redskins can’t get Vea. At 6-foot-2, 311, Payne is one of the more chiseled defensive linemen you’ll ever come across. Stopping the run is his forte and he offers a ton of upside as a pass rusher. Furthermore, Payne is only 20 years old and his best football is clearly ahead of him. After re-signing Zach Brown, adding an impact player like Payne, as well as reuniting him with former teammates Ryan Anderson and Jonathan Allen, would be a major addition to the Washington Redskins defense.
On offense, Alex Smith has flourished throughout his career with solid rushing attacks. In his two most successful seasons with the 49ers, he had top ten rushing offenses. In Kansas City, he had a top ten rushing offense four times in five years with the team, and his best year came with Kareem Hunt.
This year’s draft class is deep at running back and the Redskins have hinted all offseason that they’ll be upgrading the position. Ronald Jones out of USC would be a steal for the Redskins in Round 2. Jones might be limited by his size (5-foot-11, 200) but you can’t deny his explosive playmaking ability. In 2017, Jones rushed for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns on 251 carries. Jones has the potential to be the next Kareem Hunt or Alvin Kamara.
Ronald Jones and Da’Ron Payne would be instant upgrades for the Washington Redskins at their respective positions. An inconsistent ground game has hampered the offense for the past three seasons, and the inability to stop the run has literally been a major pitfall on defense. Both players would be impact players and, if available, should be no-brainers for the Washington Redskins.