With ten total selections in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Washington Football Team took a careful and nuanced approach to build upon their young core that blossomed toward the end of last season. Washington traded up only one time (in the sixth round) and did not attempt to reach for any QB in this class.
Washington, a 7-9 playoff team in 2020, came into the draft with a few glaring holes and did a great job of finding players that should fit the team’s needs on the field and in the locker room. Let’s take a pick by pick look at Washington’s selections, evaluate where these players fit in on the roster, and determine if they can make the team and play meaningful snaps in 2021.
WFT 2021 NFL Draft Recap 2021: Day One
1.19 | Jamin Davis | LB | Kentucky
WFT could have gone in a few different directions with this selection – Washington had glaring needs for a long-term QB, LT, LB, and free safety. Defensive-minded head coach Ron Rivera, an ex-NFL linebacker, decided the best player available to fit Washington’s needs was Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis, and I think time will prove his evaluation to be correct.
While it must have been tough to pass up on potential stalwart left tackle Christian Darrisaw, and overall pick 19 is generally too rich for a linebacker, Davis’ impact on Washington’s defense could propel this unit into being a top-five position group in the NFL next season.
Washington’s linebacking corps lacked speed and size, and that is exactly what Davis can bring to the middle level of this defense. A one-year starter, the six-foot-three Davis has the size and speed to track down ball carriers behind the defensive line as well as cover larger tight ends and speedy wide receivers running sideline to sideline. Davis can rack up 85+ tackles and should be an immediate starter with Defensive Rookie of the Year upside.
WFT 2021 NFL Draft Recap 2021: Day Two
2.51 | Samuel Cosmi | LT | Texas
On my big board, I had Cosmi as my 45th overall player and the seventh-best offensive tackle in the 2021 NFL Draft class. While I love the idea of spending such a high-value pick on LT, especially with how badly Washington needs it, I do not know if Cosmi will be the immediate long-term plug-and-play starter that they desperately need. However, the selection of Cosmi adds another ascending player to the left side of the line and he has the benefit of sitting and learning behind the current veterans.
Cosmi started 34 games in his career and was a two-time All-Big 12 selection at left tackle. He is frequently lauded for his effectiveness in keeping his quarterback right side up, but Cosmi will need to continue to work on his feet quickness to deal with NFL rushers. Cosmi is strong and could prove to be a mauler in the run game, but at left tackle, goal number one is to keep your quarterback off his back. We will see if he is trusted with protecting Ryan Fitzpatrick in year one, but hopefully, Cosmi will become a complete tackle by his sophomore year to protect whoever is under center, warranting the second-round selection.
3.74 | Benjamin St-Juste | CB | Minnesota
Though I have my concerns with St-Juste’s ability to translate his skill set to the NFL level, I think Washington still did well by adding another corner to their secondary in the third round. While Kendall Fuller, William Jackson, and Jimmy Moreland will all be playing significant snaps, Washington is devoid of depth behind their first three corners.
St Juste only started 14 games during his time at Michigan and Minnesota, but the tall, long six-foot-three cornerback has the potential to help Washington on the outside. Rivera and company are betting on potential here, and if St Juste’s lack of collegiate experience does not hold him back, Washington’s secondary may now have strong depth behind their solid starters.
3.82 | Dyami Brown | WR | UNC
While Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson are homegrown weapons that will be in town for a while, Washington made a great selection in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft with UNC WR Dyami Brown. While Washington’s quarterback room last season was vastly underwhelmed – especially with down-the-field passing – Brown can bring another level of speed to complement fellow weapons Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.
During his career at UNC, Dyami Brown averaged 20.3 yards per catch, and last season he scored nine touchdowns on passing plays more than 20 yards down the field. With gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for 2021, Brown can prove to fit the McLaurin mold as the steal of the third round and contribute on offense immediately.
WFT 2021 NFL Draft Recap: Day Three
4.124 | John Bates | TE | Boise State
With only Logan Thomas and international signee Sammis Reyes on the roster, the Football Team wisely used their fourth-round pick on a prospect with the potential to carve out an immediate role on offense. Logan Thomas will surely retain his spot as TE1 and as a pass-catching option, so Bates will have to be able to carve himself out a role as a blocker while he works on his route running. Bates has fluid hands and great size at six-foot-six, but he currently projects as a special teams contributor with TE2 upside as a receiver and not just a blocker.
5.124 | Darrick Forrest | S | Cincinnati
Of all their major needs on both sides of the ball, Washington elected to wait until the fifth round in the 2021 NFL Draft to fill another glaring hole on the roster. Washington elected to shop on the value rack instead of using draft capital to move up to draft players like Trevon Mohreig and Javon Holland.
Forrest fits the mold to a tee of what Rivera is working to build in Washington’s locker room. Forrest was a 3-year starter at Cincinnati and was applauded by his teammates and coaches for his impact in the locker room. Match that with his superb play at Cincinnati – Forrest was an All-ACC honorable mention in 2020 – and Washington may have found another steal to fortify their secondary.
6.225 | Camaron Cheeseman | LS | Michigan
Wft decided to part ways with long-time long snapper Nick Sundberg, and LS became another unexpected position of need on special teams. To fill this hole, Washington traded up in the sixth round to select the long napper out of Michigan. While I feel the sixth round is a little rich for a special teamer, Rivera noted that he believed he had to make this selection so he would not miss out. I can’t fault the head coach for getting his guy, especially at such a unique position like long snapper.
7.240 | William Bradley-King | DE | Baylor
The first of two seventh-round defensive ends drafted by Washington, Baylor DE Bradley-King is an ascending talent. The six-foot-three, 252-pound Bradley-King was a two-time All-Big 12 selection with immediate upside on special teams. Now joining the ranks of pro-bowlers the WFT has, he can now focus on honing his skillset as a rusher with the upside to be a rotational piece. I expect Bradley-King to begin the season on special teams.
7.246 | Shaka Toney | DE | Penn State
Washington’s defensive line is the strength of their team, but as the saying goes, you can never have too many good pass rushers in the NFL. Washington went to the DE well twice in the seventh round to bolster depth behind their unit, grabbing Toney, a team captain, and leader was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and can contribute on special teams and in a rotational pass rush role, like Bradley-King.
7.258 | Dax Milne | WR | BYU
Washington held the penultimate pick in the draft, and I could not be more pleased with their selection of BYU WR Dax Milne to help round out the WR room. While Washington already has young players fighting for roster spots, Milne can carve out a role ahead of them if he can perform to his maximum potential. In 2020, Milne was Zach Wilson’s favorite target, and he shined in the BYU Cougars spread offense. A former walk-on in 2015, Milne and finished the 2020 season with 70 receptions for 1,188 yards.