Here's five takeaways from Washington Redskins Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams' pre-draft press conference that took place on April 22, 2019.
1. Trading for Case Keenum doesn’t preclude the Redskins from drafting a quarterback
While the Redskins traded for Keenum in March, and now have two veteran quarterbacks on the active roster, the team still has to consider the future of the position. Should the right quarterback be available on Thursday, the Redskins wouldn’t think twice about pursuing him.
“We needed a quarterback and we were able to trade for Case, but that does not put us out of the realm of picking a quarterback if there is one there that we like at 15 [overall draft pick),” Williams said. “We don’t know who is going to be there at 15. We got some guys that we do like, and if those guys are there, then that is a discussion that has to be had. And I’m sure it will come up, there is a possibility that it will happen. With a lot of the players in this draft that can help us, we will look at it from that standpoint too. It all depends on the board. Who is highest on the board at that particular time? That quarterback is the highest and we got a pick, nine out of 10 it's going to be a quarterback but if not, than that is a discussion."
As for his impressions of this quarterback draft class, Williams simplified his description.
“You got some guys at the top and then you got guys you move down that you don’t think is at the top,” Williams said. “And we have done the same thing with the guys that we feel are top quarterbacks coming out this year. Everybody is not on the same page all the time and that is where talking it out and discussions come in at and we are still at that point.”
2. The Redskins' draft board is set but not yet finalized
There’s always more research to do and more film to watch. But with three days before the Redskins are on the clock with the No. 15 pick, Williams said the organization has completed the draft board that will guide them throughout the draft process.
“The board is up, but I’m sure there is going to be some tweaking over the next couple days,” Williams said. “Once you sit in the room and look at more tape and look at it from the standpoint of wondering, 'Do we have it right?'”
Williams understands the draft board will change during the draft, too. He referenced the 2017 NFL Draft, when Jonathan Allen, a projected top-10 prospect, fell all the way to Washington at No. 17. Selecting him proved to be an unexpected but simple decision.
In an attempt to project what teams ahead of the Redskins might do, Williams said they’ve had the scouts complete mini mock drafts, which allows them to examine the possible options for when they’re on the clock.
But that’s all educated guesswork. With 14 franchises picking ahead of Washington, “you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Williams said.
“I think we got it as close to right as the way we see it, as it's going to be. There is not a whole lot that can be done that hasn’t been done already.”
3. The Redskins “feel pretty good” about what they have along the defensive line
While bolstering the defensive line has been a priority for the Redskins in past years, it’s the unit the organization has the most confidence in entering the draft this weekend.
“There is one position that we say we feel pretty good -- but that doesn’t mean we won’t draft one -- and that is the boys up front on the defensive side of the ball,” Williams said.
The Redskins built up this position group through the last three drafts, starting with their fifth-round selection of Matt Ioannidis in 2016 and continuing with first-round picks Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne the past two years. Last week, the organization locked down Ioannidis with a multi-year extension.
For the franchise to add another defensive lineman in this year’s draft, Williams said there would need to be a scenario like the one that unfolded last year, when Tim Settle ranked near the top of the team’s draft board and was still available during the later rounds. The Redskins saw value in taking him with their fifth-round selection.
“If there is a defensive lineman in the draft in the right place for the right price, there is a possibility to add to the young guys that are already on the team,” Williams said.
Take a look at photos from the fifth day of Phase 1 of offseason workouts for the 2019 Washington Redskins.
4. There's a much higher probability of trading down than trading up.
For the last couple of drafts the Redskins have executed trades in which they moved back to acquire more picks – a strategy they have used to stockpile more talent that has paid off in certain circumstances.
Last year, they traded with the 49ers to move back in the second round, only to acquire better late-round draft choice and still select running back Derrius Guice with the 59th-overall pick. It has its benefits.
According to Williams, it’s a much more likely scenario than the team trading up to acquire a player – presumably a quarterback – in this year’s draft.
“The chance of trading up is a lot slimmer than trading back,” Williams said. “I think where we are and what we’re trying to do here with this football team, you know, we don’t make a move either way we got to work with what we have. I feel pretty good about that, but if we got a chance to trade back it all depends on who’s there and if that trade back comes and whether not you really like that guy and you want him on your football team or you put yourself in a position to get a couple more draft picks or some other players that are out there. I’m going to go on the record and say that’s a possibility that we won’t trade up, but there’s a great possibility we’ll trade back if that opportunity came."
5. Williams sees Ryan Anderson as one of the team’s starting outside linebackers right now
With linebacker Preston Smith moving onto the Packers in free agency, that leaves an open starting spot opposite Ryan Kerrigan. According to Williams, “if we had to play today,” Anderson would fill that void.
“I think that's the only way you look at it,” Anderson said. “If you look at the time Ryan played last year, the number of times he played and the impact -- if you sit down from a percentage standpoint, the number of plays that he played, he was pretty impactful when he played. We feel pretty good about where Ryan is today.”
The Redskins, of course, could still find an edge rusher in the draft, one that could complement Kerrigan and a bulked up defensive line that has made the middle of the pocket a dangerous place for quarterbacks to linger.
There will be battles to come for the outside rusher position, but the Redskins want to see a full return on their second-round investment in 2017.