Editor’s note: This story originally ran on Oct. 13 and has been updated to reflect Washington releasing quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Every week during the 2020 NFL season, we’re going to — just being honest here — overreact to what we’ve seen on the field the previous Sunday and start projecting NFL draft prospects to teams that might need help at certain spots.
Think of it as a mini one-team mock draft, with early (Rounds 1-2), middle (Rounds 3-5) and late (Round 6 and later) prospects at each team’s respective position of concern.
This week’s NFL draft makeover is the Washington Football Team. After Dwayne Haskins’ benching, what’s the future of the position there?
In February at the NFL scouting combine, new Washington head coach Ron Rivera offered up a pretty juicy tidbit.
Owners of the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the franchise planned to meet with the two quarterbacks — LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa — as they considered how to use the valuable selection. This despite the former regime’s drafting of Dwayne Haskins with the No. 15 overall pick the year before.
Burrow went first to the Cincinnati Bengals. Washington ended up taking Chase Young second overall.
But if the team picks in that same range again in the 2021 NFL draft, they might not pass on a quarterback a second time.
Now Haskins has been released after being photographed without a mask at a party last week and performing poorly in a loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. So there won’t be a turnaround with the team that drafted him.
As Washington’s QB situation stands, it’s either draft someone, count on Kyle Allen or Alex Smith next year, or trade for a veteran reclamation project. Washington plays Philadelphia in Week 17 for the NFC East title, which means it could pick 19th at worst and maybe even in the first half of the first round with a loss on Sunday.
Trey Lance, North Dakota State
It is going to be a leap of faith for whatever team drafts Lance because it will require a very high pick for a player who has 17 starts at the FCS level on his resumé. But, oh, that talent …
Lance has an alluring skill set, one that could eventually make him the best quarterback in the 2021 draft class — yes, even ahead of Trevor Lawrence. But making that statement now is a clear and utter stretch.
There also would perhaps be some hesitancy for Washington to take such an inexperienced prospect after (we’d assume) defenestrating Haskins, a one-year starter at Ohio State, even if their situations are apples to kumquats.
So who does Lance compare to? We see a lot of Dak Prescott in his game, with above-average arm strength, tremendous run skill and run instinct and natural ability that instantly shone after taking over the Bison’s starting job.
Plus, if the team keeps Smith on board, he could serve as an exceptional mentor for the gifted Lance, just as Smith did for Colin Kaepernick and Patrick Mahomes — two highly talented but unorthodox passers who required refinement and incubation before taking over.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State
Purdy lacks great arm talent, and he was uneven this season. He’s always going to be a beauty-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder QB, and not the type of player you draft as a franchise savior, we suspect. Purdy just isn’t all that physically gifted, and there’s a real question of whether he projects to be an NFL starter or not.
But Purdy carries an underdog mentality that could see him come onto an NFL roster in a learning role as a rookie and possibly take over down the road.
His craftiness, pocket movement and touch are his best traits. Purdy has a coolness about him, although his critics might argue that it will lead to some careless moments. Still, he attacks the middle of the field well and never seems to back down from big challenges, such as engineering the big upset over Oklahoma in early October.
There’s also a connection here, as Washington’s director of personnel, Kyle Smith, played his college ball at Youngstown State under head coach Jon Heacock, who is now Iowa State’s defensive coordinator. If there’s anyone who can give Smith some intel on Purdy, it’s Heacock.
Dustin Crum, Kent State
Crum and Kent State only played four games this season, and he completed 83 of 113 attempts (73.5%) for 1,181 yards and 12 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Kent State finished 3-1.
Crum’s 2019 season, meanwhile, flew beneath the national radar, but he was pretty darned fantastic.
Woody Barrett (a former Auburn commit, coincidentally) was named the starter in spring ball last year, but Crum eventually replaced him and looked far more in command of the offense when he got the chance.
Crum also ran 168 times for 707 yards with six TDs, served as a pooch punter and was tried as a tricky-play receiver a few times. He’s an impressive athlete and was very effective as a passer when he attacked deep.
Crum’s sample size is small. But what we’ve seen to this point, we’ve liked. He’s a late Day 3 option.
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