Washington Redskins 2017 NFL Draft retrospective

NFL Draft Retrospective, Washington Redskins

How should the Washington Redskins feel about their 2017 NFL Draft class after three years? We take a deep dive into it.

Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins were hoping to continue building their team as they looked to escape the mediocrity that had plagued them during Jay Gruden’s first three years with the squad. They were active in free agency attempting to plug holes at receiver (Terrell Pryor), on the defensive line (Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain), and in the secondary (D.J. Swearinger). But they still had a number of important needs heading into the draft.

In 2016, the Redskins had one of the league’s worst defensive lines and needed some true, top-end talent at the position. McGee and McClain were viewed as fine depth pieces, but they needed more.

On offense, help was needed at left guard as Shawn Lauvao was still on the team while some receiver depth would’ve been nice. Pryor, Josh Doctson, and Jamison Crowder looked solid on paper, but adding another weapon to replace the departed Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson was a possibility. Additional needs included running back, cornerback, and safety.

Original Grade

FanSided: A

“Overall, Washington used its collective brain to put together one of the better drafts of the weekend. Allen was a complete steal in the first round. Anderson, Moreau, Perine and Sprinkle can all make an impact as rookies. Nicholson and Holsey make the secondary deeper and more competitive.”

Draft Class

Round 1 (No. 17)

Jonathan Allen

DT, Crimson Tide

CURRENT TEAM: Washington Redskins

Talk about a steal. There were some who believed that Jonathan Allen would be a shoo-in for a top-five pick. And at the very least, nobody expected him to fall out of the top 10. But he did and fell right into the lap of the Redskins to fill their biggest need.

Allen emerged as a contributor right away, though a Lisfranc injury prematurely ended his rookie campaign. He has been a three-year starter for the Redskins while totaling 15 sacks and emerging as a leader on defense. Allen’s presence helped turn the Washington defensive line from a weakness to a strength and there’s no doubt that he was the best player the team could’ve landed at the time.

Still just 25, Allen should continue to be productive for the team against both the run and the pass and the team would be smart to keep him around long-term.

Round 2 (No. 49)

Ryan Anderson

LB, Crimson Tide

CURRENT TEAM: Washington Redskins

Ryan Anderson was viewed as more of a mid-round prospect with the team potentially targeting him in the fourth round. Instead, they grabbed him in the second, and that has proven to be a bit of a reach.

Anderson struggled to carve out a role for himself in his first two years with the squad. He didn’t offer much as a pass rusher but was good against the run off the edge. Still, that’s not why you draft a rush linebacker in the second round. He has to produce more than that.

In 2019, he did. Anderson started to play better as the third man in the ‘Skins rotation, notching four sacks and 43 tackles while forcing a whopping five fumbles. The team will hope that Anderson can continue to grow as a physical playmaker off the edge who can create splash plays and turnovers even if he’s just a decent pass rusher.

Round 3 (No. 81)

Fabian Moreau

CB, Bruins

CURRENT TEAM: Washington Redskins

There had been some talk about Fabian Moreau being a first-round pick in this draft class, but that ended after he suffered a torn pec during his Pro Day. The Redskins were able to steal him in the third round but so far in his career, Moreau has been up-and-down for the squad.

Moreau has been a starter for the better part of the last two seasons. But he was torched relentlessly at times in both campaigns, especially when he was asked to play in the slot. A move outside later in the 2019 season showcased that he’s a better fit out there, but is he a true No. 2 corner? That much still remains to be seen.

Round 4 (No. 114)

Samaje Perine

RB, Sooners

CURRENT TEAM: Miami Dolphins

Samaje Perine had two 100-plus yard rushing games as a rookie and while he averaged just 3.4 yards per carry, he looked good behind a terrible and injured offensive line. It was expected he’d get a chance to work in tandem with Derrius Guice in 2018, but after Guice’s injury, the Redskins signed Adrian Peterson and Perine found himself on the bench for most of the season. He totaled 32 yards on eight carries.

And while some will claim that was due to Perine’s “fumbling problem”, that issue was way overblown. Perine averaged a fumble every 106.5 touches with the Redskins. That rate is better than Peterson’s career rate, so it wasn’t the major issue. Gruden just didn’t trust Perine despite talking him up, for whatever reason.

Round 4 (No. 123) 

Montae Nicholson

S, Spartans

CURRENT TEAM: Washington Redskins

Montae Nicholson’s career in Washington has been tumultuous if nothing else. The Michigan State product has, in a sense, exceeded expectations, as he was drafted in the fourth round as a very raw safety prospect with little concrete collegiate production. But verdicts on where he is now will be polarizing.

Nicholson has, at times, flashed his tremendous potential at safety, but his play has been inconsistent each year, and off-field issues have also detracted from his resume. For now, he still has a role with the team, but it’s unclear how Ron Rivera will use him, if at all. Will Nicholson, a talented young player, be given another chance with a new coaching staff? Or will he be cut loose, and deemed a project with too many problems?

Round 5 (No. 154)

Jeremy Sprinkle

TE, Razorbacks

CURRENT TEAM: Washington Redskins

Sprinkle is still with the Redskins but what he has proven over the course of his career is that he’s not going to be much of a receiver. He can catch passes, but he certainly isn’t a natural.

Sprinkle caught a career-high 26 passes for 241 yards and a touchdown last season while mostly serving as the Redskins starter at tight end. In a perfect world, Sprinkle is best served as a solid blocking tight end. He’ll likely be trusted as a No. 2 guy moving forward as the ‘Skins look to add talent to that position group.

Round 6 (No. 199)

Chase Roullier

C, Cowboys

CURRENT TEAM: Washington Redskins

One of the bigger pleasant surprises from the 2017 NFL Draft has been Redskins center Chase Roullier, who exceeded expectations quickly after being selected by Washington in Round 6.

Roullier saw action shortly after beginning his rookie season, taking the role as Washington’s starting center once Spencer Long succumbed to injury. Since taking the starting job in 2017, Roullier has held onto it, starting 30 of 32 possible games in 2018 and 2019.

While unspectacular, Roullier’s dependability has been a nice change of pace for a D.C. squad that’s seen its fair share of injuries in recent years. Roullier lacks the dominance that other centers provide, so his long-term job security isn’t certain. But for now, he remains the team’s starter at the center of the line, and just 26 years old, he’s just entering his prime.

If Roullier can hang on to the starting job under Rivera, he could go on to blow his draft stock out of the water. But for now, his long-term outlook as a serviceable starter / able rotational lineman is more than many sixth-round picks can boast

Round 6 (No. 209)

Robert Davis

WR, Panthers

CURRENT TEAM: Philadelphia Eagles

There was some optimism surrounding the selection of Robert Davis, as he was a late-round pick with outrageous potential in 2017. The Georgia State product destroyed the NFL Combine, logging a 4.44 40-yard dash and a 41-inch vertical jump at 6-foot-3, 219 pounds.

In terms of size-speed combinations, Davis was D.K. Metcalf-esque, and he had the college production to back it up. The selection itself was excellent in theory, but it didn’t pan out in D.C. After spending his rookie year on the practice squad, Davis suffered a catastrophic leg injury in training camp of 2018. He worked his way back, and ended up making the roster in 2019, but he was soon waived after that.

Round 7 (No. 230)

Josh Harvey-Clemons

LB, Cardinals

CURRENT TEAM: Washington Redskins

Josh Harvey-Clemons, at the time, was a 6-foot-4, 217-pound safety with an inconsistent collegiate resume and a lack of NFL solidity. He was viewed as a potential defensive hybrid at the next level, with the size and athleticism to translate well, but his lack of consistency, along with some off-field concerns, led to him slipping.

Harvey-Clemons has since defied the odds, and remained a regular on the Redskins roster for three seasons. He hasn’t emerged into a premier role, but he’s bulked up and has shown flashes of promise at inside linebacker. In Ron Rivera’s new 4-3 scheme, he could be a versatile chess piece to rotate in.

Round 7 (No. 235)

Joshua Holsey

CB, Tigers

CURRENT TEAM: None

Joshua Holsey was the last pick of the Redskins 2017 draft class, and the returns received from Holsey mirrored that draft position. Holsey’s fate in D.C. wasn’t entirely his fault, as an injury in 2018 kept him from seeing the field until December, after which he’d be promptly placed on injured reserve.

Retrospective Grade

The Redskins 2017 draft class is an interesting one; it brought the team a valuable piece of the young core in Jonathan Allen, and it gave the Redskins a late-round steal in Chase Roullier. But aside from those additions, few, if any, of the other picks have panned out.

Holsey is out of the league. Perine is with his third team, and Davis with his second. Sprinkle is a depth tight end. Moreau’s development is still in flux, as is Nicholson’s. Even the draft’s high notes have notes of uncertainty to follow; Allen has to transition from the widely-respected Jim Tomsula at defensive line coach, and Roullier isn’t a guaranteed starter in 2020 after a down season

Bottom Line:

The jury is still very much out on the 2017 class. Moreau and Nicholson, both exceptional athletes, could have chances for redemption in 2020. Anderson is on the uptrend after a 2019 season that saw him produce well in limited opportunities. Harvey-Clemons still has upside to contribute, and Allen is a near blue-chip player who might be the team’s most well-rounded lineman.

If juxtaposed with the rest of the NFL, it’s likely that the early returns from the Redskins 2017 class would be average to below-average. That said, this class has the potential to be one that peaks late into the rookie contract window, and 2020 will be a telling year for its ultimate fate.

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