Grading the Washington Redskins 2017 draft class

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09: Defensive end Jonathan Allen #93 of the Washington Redskins reacts during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09: Defensive end Jonathan Allen #93 of the Washington Redskins reacts during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Washington Redskins put together an impressive 2017 NFL Draft class. We take a look back at each selection from that important year.

As the players selected by the Washington Redskins in the 2017 draft begin their third season of NFL play, they are positioning themselves to be the franchise’s best draft class ever and one of the best in NFL history.

Grading a draft class before the players have played a single NFL season is a waste of time. But, we do it anyway. We get a much better feel for the players and the draft class as a whole after their first year in the league. But, that also gives us just a glimpse into what a player and a draft class might become.

Two years, on the other hand, paints a much more complete picture of how well any given draft class is going to pan out. Going into year three is the optimal time to grade a draft class. Some suggest that three full years is a more appropriate time to grade draft classes. While one more year’s worth of film, and data, and analysis is certainly helpful in quantifying an individual player’s development, it approaches irrelevancy with regards to a team’s entire draft class.

After three years, most draft picks are entering the final year of their rookie contracts.

While it’s true that some players sign their next deal earlier than others, and first rounders get a fifth year in their initial contract anyway, a lot of players enter their fourth year with the team that drafted them with the understanding that they may be playing in another city the following year. For that reason I think grading a team’s draft, at least in terms of how much that team benefits from a specific draft, is best done after year two.

To wait another year brings other variables into the equation. Specifically, agents, trades, personalities and assorted other distractions that muffle the true impact of a given draft class.

The 2017 Washington Redskins draft class enters the coming season in rarified air. Barring injuries and other impediments to what is expected from this group, the 2017 Redskin draft class could do something no other team has ever done. Specifically, this team could see one player from each of 2017’s first six rounds begin the season in the starting lineup.

It goes without saying that, this being the Redskins after all, there will almost certainly be injuries and other impediments, i.e. suspensions or unexpectedly freakish performances by other players, that will derail all six of these players actually securing starting jobs. Still, the possibility is there and if it comes to fruition it would be a historic accomplishment.

The 2017 draft began for the Redskins with the 17th pick in the first round. The Redskins selected Jonathan Allen, the number one ranked defensive lineman from Alabama. He has been a starter since the minute his name was called and has his starting job carved in stone.

In round two the Redskins selected outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, who played alongside Allen at Alabama. The Redskins drafted Montez Sweat in 2019 and he will almost certainly be the pass rushing specialist from day one. However, it is Anderson and his tremendous ability to set the edge and shut down the run that will be the starting OLB opposite Ryan Kerrigan.

In round three the Redskins picked Fabian Moreau, a first round talent who slid as a result of a torn pectoral muscle he suffered at his pro day. The Redskins lined up in a nickel defense using three corners on nearly 80% of their defensive plays last year. Moreau may win a starting job outright but even if Josh Norman and Quenton Dunbar line up outside, Moreau’s role as the slot corner certainly qualifies him as being a defensive ‘starter’.

In round four Washington took the 6 foot 2, 215 pound Montae Nicholson. The safety from Michigan State started games as a rookie and again last year before an injury and an off the field incident shortened his season. He’s back this year and appears to have the safety spot next to Landon Collins locked up. That the Redskins didn’t address the position in either the draft or free agency, the Landon Collins signing notwithstanding, would suggest the team is very confident in Nicholson’s ability to get the job done.

Round five saw the ‘Skins pick Jeremy Sprinkle, the tight end out of Arkansas. Sprinkle has quickly established himself as one of the better blocking TEs in the league. Despite the fact that Jordan Reed was healthy enough to suit up for 14 games, something he’s only done twice in his NFL career, Sprinkle still started nine games. This testament to Sprinkle’s value to the offense bodes well for him again lining up as the starting tight end.

In round six the Redskins found a gem in center Chase Roullier out of Wyoming. Rollier has started since his rookie year and was not only the sole lineman to start all 16 games last year but was the only player on the entire offense to start all 16 games. The starting job is his again this year.

The Redskins drafted six starters in the first six rounds. Actually, the other fourth round pick in 2017 draft, RB Samaje Perine from Oklahoma started two consecutive games as a rookie. He rushed for over 100 yards in each contest. However, while he should make the team as the fourth running back it’s going to be hard for him to crack the starting lineup with 2018 second round pick Derrius Guice returning from a knee injury scheduled to split carries with future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson.

The other picks from the 2017 draft include sixth round selection WR Robert Davis. The 6 foot 3, 215 pound Davis ran a 4.44 at the combine and will be competing against a talented group of young WRs for a roster spot.

Finally, in the seventh round the Redskins chose Josh Harvey-Clemons from Louisville. The 6 foot 4 safety has been converted to an inside linebacker and should see quite a bit of playing time as his length and speed make him an ideal dime linebacker. Clemons actually was getting work with the first team defense during last years OTAs.

The only player of the 10 2017 draft picks no longer on the team is Josh Holsey. Holsey, another seventh rounder, started four years at CB for Auburn. He injured his foot before the start of last season and was just recently released to make room in a secondary packed with young talent.

The icing on cake for the 2017 draft class is that the San Francisco 49ers first round pick, ILB Reuben Foster, another Alabama mauler, is now a member of the Washington Redskins. He is lost for this season to a knee injury but most likely has a starting job waiting for him when he returns next year and rejoins a defense that will feature former Alabama stars DT DaRon Payne, DE Jonathan Allen, ILB Shaun Dion Hamilton, OLB, Ryan Anderson, and safety Landon Collins.

Next. 2019 NFL Draft grades for all 32 teams. dark

Only time will tell how this all plays out. Suffice to say, with ultimately 7 or 8 of their 22 starters coming from a single draft 2017 was a thing of beauty.