This piece is part of the Riggo’s Rag Roundtable debate about the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. For more Washington Football Team Round 1 options, click here.
The Washington Football Team could go in a variety of directions with the No. 19 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Even after making some quality additions during the early phases of free agency, the team is desperately thin at linebacker, needs more weapons at receiver and tight end, and must continue to build its offensive line talent. Then, of course, there is still the long-term quarterback problem.
But with all that being said, the Washington Football Team should use its first-round pick on TCU safety Trevon Moehrig.
Why the Washington Football Team should draft Trevon Moehrig
The first round of the NFL Draft is not Las Vegas. You do not gamble. Do you know what first-round position produces the most future Pro Bowlers?
Well, neither do I, but I have pretty good evidence that it is safety. Bleacher Report did a 25-year survey back in 2015 and the results were clear. Over that time period, safeties were the only position players that had a hit rate of over 50 percent.
That means if you select a safety in the first round, there was a better than 50/50 chance that player would make the Pro Bowl at some point. Wide receivers, on the other hand, were at the bottom of the list, with a hit rate of about 30 percent.
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I didn’t do all the math, but my quick eyeballing of the last six years suggests these numbers are still accurate.
That, by itself, is not enough of a reason to take Trevon Moehrig. The Washington Football Team should take him because he is an elite player, his addition will have the largest positive impact on the team’s overall performance, and because the gap between Moehrig and other draft-eligible safeties is much wider than the gap that exists at other positions.
Moehrig is an outstanding athlete. At his recent Pro Day, he measured 6-1, 202 pounds, which just happens to be the exact size of the consensus greatest free safety of them all, Ronnie Lott. Performing with a back strain, Moehrig still ran a 4.5 40 and a 4.19 20-yard shuttle. Both are borderline elite numbers for a safety, and at full health, he probably improves both.
His tape at TCU reveals a player who controlled games from his deep safety position. He is excellent in deep coverage but has the explosiveness and strength to come up and make plays behind the line. He diagnoses screens and draws, and he can cover virtually any type of receiver.
My favorite part of Moehrig’s tape is his tackling. He does not have a lot of splashy blow-up tackles. Instead, he stays square, wraps up the ball carrier, and gets him on the ground. His fundamentals are as sound as you will find.
Think of what that would mean to the Washington Football Team defense. The most glaring problem on an otherwise elite defense in 2020 was the failure of players at the back end to prevent long plays. Missed tackles and blown coverages allowed opposing offenses to overcome a formidable defensive front with one or two big plays.
With Moehrig, most of those big plays disappear.
Landon Collins and Kam Curl are both better suited to playing in the box. Jack Del Rio will figure out how to use them. But Washington needs a dominant presence at the back end.
The reference to Lott is important. He may well have been the first modern deep safety – a player who could not only patrol the deep middle, but could also make plays closer to the line. The evolution of that position – from Lott to Steve Atwater to Ed Reed – has been fundamental to the way modern press defenses are constructed.
The Washington Football Team should have had the next great free safety after Reed, but Sean Taylor’s tragic death put an end to that.
If you need a tiebreaker between Moehrig and other high ceiling players at 19, consider this. If you pass on a receiver in the first round, you can grab a Terrace Marshall or D’Wayne Eskridge later. Pass on a tackle and Dillon Radunz or Samuel Cosmi may fall to you. If you don’t take an elite linebacker early, Chazz Surratt and Monty Rice could be excellent off-ball Kevin Pierre-Louis replacements.
But if you pass on Moehrig, there isn’t as much waiting for you in later rounds. There are good players, to be sure, but none who will step in on day one and take an already top-tier defense to another level the way Trevon Moehrig will. Pick him in the first round and get ready to watch the best defense in the NFL in 2021.
Click the links below to read about each Washington Football Team Round 1 option.