With the Washington defence repeatedly shredded by the run in 2017, the Redskins likely had only minor hesitation in pushing the button for DT Da’Ron Payne at 13. Our Redskins writer Christian Burt goes Skin Deep on Draft Day 1
Not a reach, but not the best player on the board
It’s pretty safe, it’s resoundingly solid and Da’Ron Payne will be the starting Nose Tackle Week 1 for the Washington Redskins. You’d struggle to find a better example of a B-type grade in the 2018 draft.
In comparison to the excitement surrounding that other Crimson Tide guy Jon Allen dropping to 17 last year, the overall feeling from the HC Jay Gruden presser was slightly muted with an emphasis on Payne being the “right fit” in a definite position of need.
Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds, who Washington left on the board, arguably provided gold jacket wearing potential. No doubt Redskins fans will follow those two careers with interest – even more so with the Sean Taylor comparison that was bestowed to James from many an observer.
It is unlikely that Payne has a similar high ceiling as the aforementioned Edmunds and James, but he is only 20 years old and together with Allen and Matt Ioannidis the burgundy and gold now have a young and dynamic interior DL.
The NFC East running game is strong and I must confess to a sigh when the Giants ignored the opportunity to snap up an Eli Manning heir and instead went for the best player in the 2018 draft Saquon Barkley. Add in Zeke Elliott in Dallas and the Eagles Jay Ajayi and it’s a sure fire RB recipe for many a sleepless night. Hopefully the addition of Payne can help in that regard.
Who will be smiling in Redskins Park?
Jim Tomsula must be beaming at this one. To get such a young and gifted DT ready to play nose will be exactly the kind of challenge our gum chewing D-Line coach will love.
College stats on Payne do not highlight a tremendous sack count. Under the tutelage of Tomsula, however, the front office in D.C will be confident that Payne can be taught up to add pass rush his obvious solid skills in stopping the run.
No doubt former Alabama team mates Allen and Ryan Anderson will also welcome Da’Ron with open arms and OLB quality starters Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith can benefit from a 6ft 3 and 311 pound stuffer as they look to increase their already decent career sack quotas.
The Crimson Tide connection brings hope in the form of an already acquired winning mentality, but this must be measured with some caution after the soft start in D.C for Anderson. The NFL is very much a horses for courses arena and there’s no guarantee that guys from a successful College will bring that into the NFL.
Ready to win
It might seem odd that my thoughts turned to new QB Alex Smith after the Payne pick. But both Smith and the Washington front office are determinedly bullish with a “ready to win” attitude going into the 2018 season.
You’d assume therefore, misguided or not, that Doug Williams, Bruce Allen and company believe that the roster contains much of what you require to lift the Lombardi. If that really is the case: expect a big play for Derrius Guice or Will Fernandez on Day 2.