This was that Grade A 2016 Washington draft class: WR Josh Doctson, S-LB Sua Cravens, CB Kendall Fuller, DT Matt Ioannidis, QB Nate Sudfeld, LB Steven Daniels and RB Keith Marshall.
Bleacher Report on the Washington draft:
“The team got two of the best receivers and the best tight end in the draft … the (Washington) draft may not have been the best, but it was probably the ‘sexiest,’ particularly at the top.”
Grade? “A minus.”
This was that Grade A minus 2008 Washington draft class: WR Devin Thomas, TE Fred Davis, WR Malcolm Kelly, T Chad Rinehart, DB Justin Tryon, P Durant Brooks, DB Kareem Moore, QB Colt Brennan, DE Rob Jackson and DB Chris Horton.
This is not a learning experience. Anyone of any level of intelligence should realize that nobody really knows anything about who will be a good NFL player. It is a necessary reminder that what anyone thinks of a draft class hours after their selections means nothing — from anyone, even the geniuses that made the selections. No, make that especially the geniuses that made the picks. After all, they are their players.
“This is one of the best processes I’ve been involved in,” Washington general manager Martin Mayhew said. “It’s been a really, really good process.”
But stuff happens.
Sports Illustrated gave Washington a B grade for its 2021 class — a solid mark for what seems to be a solid class — LB Jamin Davis out of Kentucky, OT Sam Cosmi from Texas, CB Benjamin St.-Juste from Minnesota, WR Dyami Brown from North Carolina, TE John Bates out of Boise State, S Darrick Forrest from Cincinnati, long snapper Camaron Cheeseman from Michigan, DE William Bradley-King of Baylor, DE Shaka Toney out of Penn State and WR Dax Milne from BYU.
There are obvious differences from the promise and failures of 2008 and 2016 or any other of the draft classes that failed to translate over the past two decades.
The primary difference is that there isn’t a moron in charge of the personnel — Vinny Cerrato, Bruce Allen — to tear down the good work that they may have lucked into during their drafts. In former Carolina Panthers GM Marty Hurney, former Detroit GM Mayhew, former Indianapolis GM Chris Polian and others, Washington appears to have the most capable brain trust it’s had in 20 years.
That doesn’t necessarily translate to consistent draft success. It’s a crapshoot even for the smart personnel people. The best you can say about the Washington player development moving forward is that after decades of being 20 yards behind the starting line, the franchise finally has competent people making decisions, which basically levels the playing field for the first time under owner Dan Snyder. It doesn’t guarantee success.
There is that name again — Dan Snyder. Supposedly, he was not in there demolishing the draft board and the work of the football player personnel people this year, at least as far as we know. But we are just two years removed from his heavy-handed demand to take quarterback Dwayne Haskins with the 15th pick in the draft, setting the franchise back for at least several years.
And just last year, new coach Ron Rivera, after trading for his quarterback from Carolina, Kyle Allen, and declaring repeatedly that there would be a quarterback competition, wound up giving the job to Haskins, whose work ethic was already questioned by the previous coaching staff.
And now we await the results of the NFL’s Beth Wilkinson-led investigation into allegations, detailed in the Washington Post, of the sexual harassment of women who worked for the organization — a probe that, while may not force Snyder out, could wind up penalizing the franchise with a fine and loss of draft picks.
One final thought on Washington’s draft haul — this franchise once took LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels in the first round of the same draft after a 10-6 season, an NFC East title and a playoff win. That is as strong a foundation as you could hope to build on.
They went 49-63 with both those stars on the roster.
Stuff happens. Washington Football Team stuff happens.
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