Prospects for WFT to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2021

Prospects for WFT to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

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    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team won the NFC East with a 7-9 record last season. While some may view the divisional title as a fluke or as a product of poor competition, the Football Team deserves credit for building a playoff-caliber roster through the draft.

    Key contributors like Terry McLaurin, Chase Young, Montez Sweat and Antonio Gibson were all the product of smart drafting in recent years. Of course, Washington's draft history also includes some misses—most notably the 2019 selection of quarterback Dwayne Haskins at No. 15 overall.

    With head coach Ron Rivera and new general manager Martin Mayhew leading the front office, Washington will look to land more hits than misses in the 2021 draft. This means making the right selections, of course, but it also means avoiding mistakes like Haskins proved to be.

    Here we'll examine three prospects Washington should avoid over draft weekend. These aren't necessarily bad players. Rather, they don't fit Washington or don't fill the team's biggest needs.

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    Washington has its starting quarterback for 2021 in journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. While the idea of pairing Fitzpatrick with an elite every-down back like Alabama's Najee Harris could be intriguing, it's not a move the team should make in Round 1.

    Make no mistake: Harris—the 28th-ranked prospect on Bleacher Report's latest draft board—has the goods to be a phenomenal pro.

    "Harris is a blend of power, determination and versatility as both a between-the-tackles runner and perimeter rushing threat," Jordan Reid of The Draft Network wrote. "A comfortable pass-catcher out of the backfield, he’s made strides in his pass-catching ability every season."

    Adding a running back at 19th overall simply wouldn't represent value for Washington. The team has a viable starter in Gibson and a tremendous pass-catching back in J.D. McKissic.

    Last season, McKissic caught 80 passes for 589 yards and two touchdowns.

    If Washington wants to add to its backfield, it should do so in the later rounds. Other needs—like a long-term quarterback or a run-stuffing linebacker—should take precedence in Round 1.

Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Because Washington only has Fitzpatrick under contract for one year, any quarterback drafted highly may need to start as soon as 2022. Therefore, a developmental prospect like Texas A&M's Kellen Mond shouldn't be on Washington's radar with its first- or second-round selection.

    While Mond has tremendous physical upside, he's inconsistent as a downfield passer.

    "Issues with touch and anticipation create erratic completion numbers when asked to throw down the field and outside the numbers, which will concern evaluators," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote. "His zone-read talent and quick release to incorporate RPOs adds to his draft value, but he might lack the consistency to ever become more than a solid backup."

    Rivera has experience working with a dual-threat quarterback from his time coaching Cam Newton with the Carolina Panthers, so if Mond falls into the middle rounds, he could make some sense as a long-term backup with upside.

    However, the Texas A&M product shouldn't be an early target and should be out of consideration entirely if an early quarterback run places him in the Round 1 conversation.

Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Washington should be in the market for a linebacker who can improve a run defense that ranked 13th in yards allowed last season. The Football Team could address this need in Round 2, where it holds the 51st overall pick.

    However, Washington should be focused on adding an immediate contributor to help maximize its playoff window. North Carolina's Chazz Surratt isn't this sort of prospect—even if his upside would warrant a pick in this range.

    Surratt is a former college quarterback with loads of physical potential, but he's still learning to play defense at a high level. This means he may not even see significant snaps for his first couple of pro seasons.

    "The tape shows a player who is still very inconsistent and uncertain at diagnosing the action, attacking angles and feeling play development," Zierlein wrote.

    Surratt would be a better fit for a rebuilding franchise or one already deep at the second level. Again, he will need time to develop, and there's no guarantee he can become a reliable NFL linebacker.

    Washington should be more interested in prospects with fewer questions and a higher floor.