As the Washington Football Team heads into year two of the Ron Rivera Experience, they are still building an identity on both sides of the ball. Despite a playoff appearance in 2020, Washington has a lot of room to grow and their 2021 NFL Draft class is a step in the right direction. PREVIOUSLY IN THIS NFC EAST DRAFT REVIEW SERIES: Philadelphia Eagles | New York Giants.
Jamin Davis, Linebacker, Kentucky
Washington surprised quite a few people when they drafted Jamin Davis with their first-round pick. Davis was slated to go high, but the top 20 felt rich then and still feels like a reach. Jamin Davis is no doubt a talented, athletic player who put on some flashy tape at Kentucky, but he only started 11 games during his career. Davis lands in a great spot, however, as Washington’s defensive line will make things very easy for him early on. Davis’s aggressive style of play, combined with his sideline to sideline speed, will translate into a productive rookie year and a playmaking career beyond that.
Samuel Cosmi, Offensive Lineman, Texas
Washington’s next pick was an inverse dynamic of their first-round pick. Lots of people had Samuel Cosmi going in the first round, but Washington was able to snag him on day two.
Samuel Cosmi is a tremendously gifted athlete with great size at the tackle position. He showed off plenty of great tape at Texas where he excelled as a pass blocker and run blocking down the field. He could be a lot more physical given his stature, but Washington is betting on his size/movement combination to help him win in the NFL.
Benjamin St-Juste, Cornerback, Minnesota
Washington went back to defense with their third pick in the draft. Benjamin St-Juste no doubt impressed the Washington staff with his size, physicality, and fluidity on the football field. St-Juste almost retired from football due to injuries early in his college career but came back to be a high-level contributor with the Gophers the last two years. His tackling and natural ball skills made him an asset in college and will help him in the NFL, but he still needs to improve his instincts before he can be a consistent defender in the league.
Dyami Brown, Wide Receiver, UNC
This was my favorite/least favorite pick by Washington in the 2021 draft. They snagged one of the more dynamic receivers in the draft with their second pick in the third round. Dyami Brown was a deep ball specialist at UNC, averaging 20 yards per catch in his final year.
He has legit deep speed and incredible ball skills, which will make him an immediate threat in the NFL. He still needs to round out his game and improve his consistency catching routine passes, but Washington’s deep receiving group will allow Dyami to thrive as a role player instead of him being depended on as a primary target.
John Bates, Tight End, Boise State
Washington snagged another pass catcher in the fourth round when they drafted John Bates. Washington’s interest in Bates is predicated more on the fact that the 6’5”, 250-pound former track star is a great athlete and less on his production (47 catches in 46 games). It’s hard not to see what Washington saw intriguing about Bates, but it is clear that this pick is all upside and a bit of a risk. Washington has a need at tight end, so Bates will likely see more opportunities in his rookie year than he saw his entire college career.
Darrick Forrest, Safety, Cincinnati
Darrick Forrest’s selection keeps in line with Washington adding great athletes to their back seven in this draft. The six-foot, 200 pounder has top-level physical gifts to thrive at the safety position.
Forrest is an aggressive player and Washington drafted all the good and bad that comes with that. For one, Forrest is the type of player to punish receivers and ball carriers close to the line of scrimmage. But he is also the type of player to miss tackles and take bad angles in coverage. These are fixable things, absolutely, and part of the opportunity cost of these types of players. Forrest figures more like a box safety because projecting him as a deep defender will take a lot of improvement.
Camaron Cheeseman, LS, Michigan
Camaron Cheeseman, Spanish for “Shrimp Cheeseman,” is a long snapper.
William Bradley-King, Edge, Baylor
William Bradley-King is one of the late-round defenders in this draft who could make a much bigger impact early on than his draft position would suggest. Bradley-King was a productive defender at Arkansas State where he overcame his smaller build to be an every-down disruptor.
He transferred to Baylor where he still made a big impact on every down in every game, despite the season being shorter. Bradley-King weighs in at 250 pounds soaking wet, but he has great quickness, a high motor, and excellent technique. Playing on Washington’s defensive line, Bradley-King will probably not be paid much attention given who else he is playing with. Bradley-King is the type of player who could feast on single blocker assignments if he can find the field early in his career.
Shaka Toney, Edge, Penn State
Shaka Toney is another player, like Bradley-King, is a great athlete who could thrive on the Washington defensive line. Toney has rare speed off the edge and despite his size, flashed disruption while he was at Penn State. If he can play his way into the rotation in Washington, he could make some noise early in his career.
Dax Milne, Wide Receiver, BYU
Dax Milne broke out in a big way for the BYU Cougars in 2020, forming a great connection with Zach Wilson to be one of the most productive receivers in the country. Milne doesn’t have any special traits, but he is a technically skilled receiver who plays with urgency and does a great job tracking and catching the ball. Milne’s NFL projection is tough considering his lack of traits and one year of college production. Taking a flyer on him in the last round makes a lot of sense for Washington. Milne could likely contribute as a special teams player early in his career and maybe he develops into a solid pass catcher down the line.
It is clear Washington wants to keep getting faster on both sides of the ball. They have one of the best defensive lines in the league and complemented it in this class with some athletic guys to benefit from that front four.
I expect Jamin Davis to make an early impact for Washington, as should Samuel Cosmi and Dyami Brown on offense. Otherwise, Washington has a bunch of talented players that their staff will need to develop into contributors.
Also, they have a guy named Camaron Cheeseman now. Which is cool.