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NFL draft makeover: Could Washington Football Team reboot with Dak Prescott-like QB prospect?

Eric Edholm
·6-min read

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?

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)
(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

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.

The benching of Haskins might not be very fair, and Rivera has promised that Haskins’ end with the franchise hasn’t come, but it doesn’t exactly feel like there will be a turnaround with the team that drafted him.

Will they trade Haskins? It’s possible. And if they land high enough — in the range, say, of one of the top three quarterbacks in the draft — it’s probably more than likely. It’s either draft someone, count on Kyle Allen or Alex Smith next year, or trade for a reclamation project such as Jimmy Garoppolo, Matt Ryan, Tyrod Taylor, Mitch Trubisky or the like.

After a 1-4 start against a weaker slate, the Washington Football Team currently picks No. 4 next year. That almost certainly puts them in a position to make the big draft investment they didn’t last year.

Early-round prospect

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.

North Dakota State QB Trey Lance is a likely top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
North Dakota State QB Trey Lance is a likely top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

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.

If the franchise owns the No. 1 overall pick, Lawrence would almost certainly be the choice. Ohio State’s Justin Fields (the man who replaced Haskins in Columbus) also cannot go overlooked. But Lance would be a very feasible long-term fit if Washington is picking a few slots lower.

But not too far — there’s a decent chance Lance goes in the top five, and even if he doesn’t, we’d be surprised if he slips outside of the top 10.

Mid-round prospect

Brock Purdy, Iowa State

Purdy lacks great arm talent, and he’s off to an uneven start so far this season. But to his credit, Purdy seems to be turning things around of late, including and especially in his most recent outing against Texas Tech.

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.

Iowa State QB Brock Purdy struggled early but has gotten back on track in recent games. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Iowa State QB Brock Purdy struggled early but has gotten back on track in recent games. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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 two weeks ago.

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.

Late-round prospect

Dustin Crum, Kent State

We have yet to see Crum this season, but it wouldn’t be stunning to see his stock increase once the MAC gets rolling again in a few weeks. Crumbs’ 2019 season flew beneath the national radar, but he was pretty darned fantastic.

In his first season starting, the 6-3, 210-pound Crum completed 217 of 313 passes (69.3 percent) for 2,625 yards with a 20-2 TD-INT ratio. Kent State’s defense was absolutely mauled by Auburn, but in that game Crum made some impressive throws and didn’t look out of place at all before being pulled, down 28, midway through the third quarter.

Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum acquitted himself well vs. Auburn earlier this season. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum acquitted himself well vs. Auburn earlier this season. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

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.

The path for the Washington Football Team to draft a QB on Day 3, as opposed to earlier, would seem to be either Allen or Smith having some tangible success down the stretch — or perhaps they have second thoughts on trading Haskins and are not willing to give up on him just yet.

Crum only has a six-game slate this fall, so there’s only so much tape he can put out there. But what we’ve seen to this point, we’ve liked. He’s a late Day 3 option now.

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