2019 NFL mock draft: Washington needs a pass rusher if pick isn’t a QB

Washington is in a tough spot in the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s clear the team needs a young quarterback, but sitting at No. 15 overall makes that a little difficult. Swinging a trade for Josh Rosen of Arizona makes sense, but Washington apparently isn’t pursuing it.

That leaves Washington to either hoping or waiting. In the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft, it is waiting. Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, and Missouri’s Drew Lock are all gone. That could be the case in the actual draft too.

That’s bad news for Washington, and it’s bad news for Ken Meringolo of Hogs Haven.

15. Washington: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Meringolo: Some fans will want the team to force a quarterback decision here, but with no surefire Day 1 starter available, the team should look to balance its talent needs with its salary cap restrictions (Washington still has a one-legged Alex Smith taking up about $40 million of cap space the next two seasons). Perhaps the best way to help journeymen quarterbacks like Colt McCoy and Case Keenum is to add top-notch talent on defense.

After losing Preston Smith in free agency, Washington is lucky to be drafting high enough in the first round to take one of the top five edge rushers in this class. Ferrell will provide the Washington defense with blue-chip talent at a crucial position on a rookie deal that will pay him less over four years than some starting veterans will make in one season. The economics argument might bore some fans, but nothing could be more important than adding a starter who contributes immediately on a reasonable contract for this Washington front office.

While Ferrell did not go to Alabama (which seems to be a prerequisite for most of Washington’s recent top draft picks and free agent signings), he did just play on the defense that shut Alabama down in the title game. He has been playing alongside NFL-caliber players his entire collegiate career at Clemson and the All-American has more than held his own. His prototypical size and strength combined with his length and “violent” hands should allow him to be an every-down player right away for the burgundy and gold. A little bit of pro coaching should allow him to reach the Pro Bowl potential most analysts believe is there.

Analysis: Ferrell is a very good player, and should be effective early in his NFL career. That’s what playing 44 games on a loaded defensive line will get an NFL team. He should be good in Washington as long as he’s not used exclusively as a standup rusher. Ferrell is at his best when he can use his solid first step and power to beat blockers. Standing up as a rusher, he just doesn’t have the agility and movement skills required.

Top five remaining players:

  • 8. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State
  • 10. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
  • 12. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
  • 13. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
  • 16. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

This is a little embarrassing. My top five remaining players stayed the same for each of today’s three picks. Bad rankings, or bad drafting? In any case, the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft will pick back up tomorrow at 11 a.m. ET with Cat Scratch Reader making a selection for the Carolina Panthers.


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