WFT's Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 26, 2021

WFT's Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    The Washington Football Team has a lot of young, talented players on its roster, which should bode well for the future. After winning the NFC East and making the playoffs during the 2020 NFL season, Washington could take another step forward in 2021.

    But first, Washington will be adding another wave of young talent. The team has already brought in some noteworthy players this offseason ahead of this week's draft in Cleveland.

    Early in free agency, Washington addressed some of its biggest needs with several key signings: quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, wide receiver Curtis Samuel and cornerback William Jackson III, along with some other depth players. So it was a strong start to the offseason for this team.

    But Washington still has work to do, and it needs to find the right players during the draft for it to build around so it can get closer to becoming a championship contender.

    Here's a look at three players who should be Washington's top targets in the upcoming draft.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The offensive line and linebacker corps remain two of Washington's biggest areas of need. If Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw is available at No. 19, then Washington should probably take him. But he could be off the board by then.

    In that case, Washington should wait on finding a left tackle and take Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who would immediately come in and provide strong play on an already impressive defense. Not only can Owusu-Koramoah play linebacker, he can also contribute at defensive back. And that versatility would be a valuable asset for Washington, which is one reason why ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. sees it as a great fit.

    "He must improve as a tackler, but he should slot in as an instant-impact player for a defense that is already one of the league's best," Kiper recently wrote.

    Owusu-Koramoah had 142 tackles, seven sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception in 25 games over the past two seasons for Notre Dame. In 2020, he emerged as one of the best defensive players in the country as a senior, winning the Butkus Award, being named a unanimous All-American and receiving ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

    Washington's defense is a top-tier unit. It would become even stronger with the addition of Owusu-Koramoah.

Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    If Washington doesn't draft a starting left tackle in the first round, it should do so in the second round. And Radunz has a solid chance of being available when Washington is on the clock with the No. 51 overall pick.

    There's some uncertainty surrounding Radunz, who missed his redshirt freshman season in 2017 because of a torn ACL and played only one game in 2020 as North Dakota State postponed its season because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the 6'4", 301-pound tackle has plenty of potential, and he could end up being an anchor for Washington's offensive line for years to come.

    "This guy reads really well. The way he moves, he's really smart and instinctive, he's tough, he's good in the run game, he had a great Senior Bowl week," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah recently said, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.

    Radunz also knows what it takes to be successful. North Dakota State won three consecutive FCS championships from 2017-19, while Radunz was a first-team All-American as a redshirt junior in 2019. So he'd provide a needed boost to the left side of Washington's offensive line and could be a steal as a second-round pick, depending on how he develops at the NFL level.

Nico Collins, WR, Michigan

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    Washington has a No. 1 wideout in Terry McLaurin, and the receiving corps became much improved with the free-agent signings of Samuel and Adam Humphries. But it could still benefit from the addition of a strong rookie receiver to provide depth, along with others such as Cam Sims.

    With two third-round picks (Nos. 74 and 82), Washington should have the luxury of taking a wide receiver with one of those selections. That could make Nico Collins an intriguing option, as he should be one of the top receivers available at that point.

    Collins opted out of the 2020 season, but he gained plenty of experience over the previous three years at Michigan. In 29 games, the 6'4" receiver had 78 receptions for 1,388 yards and 13 touchdowns. He flashed his big-play potential as a junior in 2019, leading the Big Ten with 19.7 yards per catch.

    Washington's offense is set up to be a stronger unit in 2021, and Fitzpatrick won't be afraid to air it out to the team's receivers. That could make Collins a strong fit, as he can stretch the field and give the veteran quarterback another talented player to throw it deep to.