Redskins Emerge as Big Winners of 2019 NFL Draft After Brilliant First Round

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystApril 26, 2019

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - APRIL 25:  A video board displays an image of Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State after he was chosen #15 overall by the Washington Redskins during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

One of the truest certainties of the NFL draft's first round is that nothing is certain. Despite months of speculation and hundreds of mock drafts, the first night is always full of surprises.

The 2019 draft was no exception. But there's one surprise that loomed over all the others—a jaw-dropping stunner so shocking that wrapping one's head around it causes vertigo.

The Washington Redskins—a team with a sketchy draft history of late and the 15th overall pick—didn't just have a good first round. Or a really good first round. Or even a great first round.

The Redskins had the best first round of any team in the NFL.

Yes, you read that right.

Mind you, during the lead-up to the draft, there were reports that team owner Daniel Snyder had "taken over" the first round.

Grant Paulsen @granthpaulsen

Just talked to a Redskins source who told me Dan Snyder has "taken over the first round of the draft." The last time that happened the Redskins traded two future No. 1's and a No. 2 to move up for Robert Griffin.

The Redskins denied that, but fans were understandably a bit uneasy. Then came reports that the Redskins were exploring a trade up into the top five—ostensibly to select Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

Cue those Robert Griffin III flashbacks again.

By the end of Thursday's action, however, trepidation in the fanbase had been replaced by elation. And it all started, coincidentally enough, when Washington did indeed land the Buckeyes signal-caller.

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The thing is, the Redskins didn't have to do a thing to get him. Thanks to a round that included the New York Giants reaching for Duke's Daniel Jones at No. 6 and the Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins all passing on a quarterback, the 6'3", 231-pounder plopped right into Washington's lap at No. 15.

Haskins doesn't intend to forget it, either:

Field Yates @FieldYates

Dwayne Haskins on being drafted 15th by the Redskins (and passed on by several QB needy teams) to @JenLada: "To be honest, Im more motivated than ever before. I've got a chip on my shoulder... the league done messed up."

There's a reason Haskins fell—he was the least athletic of this year's top prospects under center and needs to develop his mechanics and reads. But Haskins was also the most accurate of this year's first-round passers—he completed 70 percent of his passes for an FBS-leading 4,831 passing yards and 50 scores with just eight interceptions.

It wasn't that long ago that the quarterback situation in the nation's capital was a disaster. Alex Smith and Colt McCoy were both coming off serious injuries. Behind them was…not much.

Now, that situation is much clearer. The likeliest scenario is Case Keenum (acquired in March) starting at the beginning of the season and then Haskins taking over either later this year or in 2020.

Had that been all the Redskins accomplished, it would have been a good day. With the possible exception of Jonathan Allen in 2017, it was the wisest Round 1 pick the Redskins have had since landing Ryan Kerrigan in 2011.

But the Redskins weren't done yet.

For the price of the No. 46 overall pick and Washington's second-rounder next year, the Redskins moved back into Round 1 at No. 26 in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts. There, the team selected Mississippi State edge-rusher Montez Sweat, a 6'6", 260-pound athletic marvel who peeled off a mind-blowing 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the combine after piling up 53 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks for the Bulldogs in 2018.

STARKVILLE, MS - SEPTEMBER 29:  Montez Sweat #9 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs reacts during a game against the Florida Gators at Davis Wade Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Starkville, Mississippi.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Sweat was widely regarded as a likely top-15 pick until recently, when stories surfaced that he had been diagnosed with a heart condition at the combine. But Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported hours before the draft that Sweat may have been misdiagnosed and that his health isn't at risk by playing.

Sweat joins a Washington front seven that already included Allen, Kerrigan, Matt Ioannidis and 2018 first-rounder Daron Payne. On paper, it looks like a unit that should fare well in getting after the quarterback in 2019.

And just like Haskins, Sweat intends to make every team that passed on him Thursday night rue that decision:

JP Finlay @JPFinlayNBCS

Montez Sweat - "I'm ready to show everyone they missed out. They messed up for real."

Of course, neither of these young players are can't-miss, slam-dunk superstars of the future. That type of prospect doesn't come along often—and on those rare occasions when they do, they don't last until picks No. 15 and No. 26. We've already touched on Haskins' perceived flaws, and as is the case with many young pass-rushers entering the NFL, Sweat's footwork and hands can be spotty at times.

But Haskins and Sweat were top-20 prospects on Matt Miller's final NFL draft big board. Both ranked higher at their respective positions than players who were drafted before them. And as recently as the first week of March, the big board at The MMQB ranked both inside the top 10.

For years, the Redskins front office has been the butt of jokes. Snyder and team president Bruce Allen have been vilified by many fans for a long list of misdeeds—including the catastrophic results of the Griffin trade.

But if Haskins and Sweat come anywhere close to realizing their potential, the 2019 draft will long be remembered as a game-changer for the franchise on both sides of the ball. This wasn't just a home run of a first round—the only thing that's going to stop the ball from traveling now is the International Space Station.

We are now living in a world where the Washington Redskins—the bumbling, fumbling Washington Redskins—just had the best first round of any team in the NFL.

That's equal parts impressive and terrifying.


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