4. Selecting NT Da’Ron Payne with the No. 13 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft
The first pick of the 2018 draft drew a bit of a mixed bag of emotions for Redskins fans at first. When the team selected Da’Ron Payne with the No. 13 pick, it was clear what the team had done. They had shored up a glaring need at nose tackle and added talent to their defensive line. However, some fans were miffed that a supposedly superior prospect was on the board.
The player I’m talking about is Derwin James. The Florida State safety was long considered to be a potential target of the Redskins by fans and analysts, but in reality, his fit in the defense would have been a bit questionable. While James played slot corner and safety in college, the team would have had trouble working out how and where to use him. They needed a player who could play outside and slot corner, but James didn’t project to be that type of option. He was more of a hybrid safety who would have had to fight D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson for playing time.
Realistically, the team was only interested in selecting Minkah Fitzpatrick as an early defensive back because he could play any position in the secondary. When he went off the board at No. 11, it was clear that the team was going to go with a defensive lineman. And when Vita Vea came off the board a pick later, that made Payne the man.
More from Commanders News
- What will Emmanuel Forbes bring to the Washington Commanders?
- Highlighting the best Commanders 2023 NFL Draft betting props
- 3 late Commanders rumors drawing buzz ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft
- 4 bold predictions for the Commanders 2023 NFL Draft
- Commanders News: Chase Young trade, draft day, CB riser and Sam Howell
Payne has excellent athletic ability, and he was a force during the Crimson Tide’s run to the College Football Playoff. He played with current teammate Jonathan Allen for a couple of years, and now the two will create a fierce, athletic interior rushing tandem to help break down the pocket. And that could work wonders for the Redskins front seven.
Patching a major weakness with a top prospect at a position is always a good move. By adding Payne, the Redskins patched their biggest need. They doubled down by adding Tim Settle later, and it appears that their defensive line rotation is fixed. That began with the Payne selection and as a result, that makes him a top acquisition for the 2018 offseason.