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Washington Football Team 7-Round Mock Draft: December Edition

  • The Draft Network
  • December 22, 2021
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Now 6-8 and on the outside looking in on the NFC playoff picture, Washington’s consecutive division losses have reared the head of the organization's most dire needs on both sides of the football. While COVID-19 ravaged the roster at the worst possible time before an unorthodox Tuesday night matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s time to look forward to the spring, and specifically, the 2022 NFL Draft. 

For a franchise that will continue to hang its hat on the ability of its army of first-round selections within its defensive front, as long as Ron Rivera is calling the shots, the burgundy and gold will remain competitive. With plans for a new name (early 2022) and a new stadium to be built in the coming years, Washington is on its way up both on and off the gridiron. A team surrounded by mediocrity and limited on-field success since the turn of the millennium, there are bright signs pointing upward and it starts by building and adding talent through the selection process. 

While the aforementioned virus and ongoing injuries have seen Rivera’s group stripped to the bone over the last month—making it tough to justify levels of performance—Washington is a group, when near full health, that has the ability to compete with the NFC’s elite. 

Here is my initial seven-round mock including scheme fit on each prospect: 

Round 1 (No. 10 overall): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Charles Leno has done a fine job, but him being 31 years old and on an expiring contract makes Cross a must-add on the left side of the line. A position that has failed to be addressed since the departure of Trent Williams, Cross pairs with Sam Cosmi as the bookends of the future along Washington’s line. 

In a group coached by one of the best in football in John Matsko, whose job this year has flown extremely under the radar, Cross has the potential to be a Pro Bowl tackle in his first season. With similar athletic traits to that of Williams out of school, Cross is a perfect fit in Scott Turner’s offense that forces his tackles to get out in space.

You win games in the trenches, and for Cross, who fits the athletic bill that Rivera loved in Cosmi out of Texas last spring, he’s the ideal selection here.

Round 2 (No. 41 overall): Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati 

I don’t envision Rivera expending a round-one selection on a quarterback, but with Ridder available here at No. 41, it’s hard to pass up his talent. Taylor Heinicke has been a nice story, and Ryan Fitzpatrick was a flash in the pan, but Washington needs a franchise face under center. Ridder provides that. 

Dynamic in both the pass and run, Ridder’s skill set in Turner’s offense could be a match made in heaven. With the necessary arm strength to fit balls into tight windows, Ridder has also consistently shown the knack to command an offense and make every throw in the book. 

While his arm talent draws crowds, his unique traits outside of the pocket and off-script make him special. It’s not to say he can’t read and dissect a defense, but on play-action and designed boots, he’s truly special. Both quick, and physical in space, while Rivera would like to keep his quarterback clean from contact when Ridder has the ball in his hands in the open field, he is as dynamic as they come with elite vision and the ability to break tackles, presenting an entirely different wrinkle to defend. Both an outstanding thrower of the football and a prospect that competes his tail off, Ridder is a must-add here if available in the second round. 

Round 3 (No. 74 overall): Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

Washington added William Jackson III in free agency and selected Benjamin St-Juste in the third round in 2021, but they need more pop at the position. Gordon, who touts excellent inside/out versatility, projects extremely well into Jack Del Rio’s defense. Like Jackson and St-Juste, who both sit above 6-foot, Gordon possesses the necessary length at 6-foot flat to wreak havoc in the defensive secondary and should challenge Kendall Fuller for his job.

Round 4 (No. 111 overall): Markquese Bell, S, Florida A&M

Athletes. Athletes. And more athletes. With Kam Curl starting at free, Bell working alongside him with Bobby McCain expected to hit free agency presents a dynamic two-headed monster for Del Rio. With Landon Collins now working inside the box as a hybrid linebacker/safety option at the “buffalo nickel” spot, Bell provides another alpha into Washington’s defense. While his aggressiveness hurts him at times, he’s a demolishing tackler who makes his presence felt on every rep. With the necessary technique to flare and cover the roof of the defense in both man and zone, he’s a day-one starter. 

Round 6 (No. 188 overall): Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma

Gray is an absolute steal here on day three. If Gray slips to No. 188, Rivera should sprint to the podium to turn in his card. While he’s a risk to return to school and masthead the Oklahoma run game, Gray is an elite ball-carrier who would challenge Antonio Gibson for a major role in Washington’s offense. While they would like to re-sign J.D. McKissic, Gray could serve his role, while providing a larger punch in the run game. Like McKissic, he’s a sub-6-foot back, but he has the necessary body armor to harness contact and blow through arm tackles. 

A much more refined product than Rivera’s current RB2 and 2021 UDFA Jaret Patterson, Gray would be a top-tier addition who was underutilized in Norman. His lack of touches at Oklahoma remained a mystery within NFL circles all season long and that could work to Washington’s advantage come the latter half of the draft. He has a tremendous ceiling and is also a player who sticks his face in the mud in pass pro. Sign me up. 

Round 7 (No. 228 overall): Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn

Jon Bostic looks to be on his way out, and I could have gone wide receiver here, but I believe Washington will address the position in free agency like they did last year with Curtis Samuel. With Pappoe, a former 5-star recruit of high school with a refined skill set, he is the ideal developmental project at the back end of the draft. 

With Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis representing the core of Rivera’s defense for potentially the next decade, Pappoe would be an excellent extra body at the second level when the aforementioned backers need a breather or if Del Rio opts to use three-LB packages with Collins at buffalo nickel. He has tons of punch as an athlete filling gaps in the run and can also rush the passer with some success. The most improvement needed is in working off blocks and increasing the flexibility in his lower half—that will help him remain fluid in pass coverage.

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