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Chase Young can help set the tone for Washington’s offseason — and its future

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Washington has many questions to answer in Ron Rivera’s first season.

NFL Combine - Day 5 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Washington is going through some changes this year after a dreadful 2019. Ron Rivera is in as head coach, and the team has already had a busy transactional offseason, releasing veteran tight end Jordan Reed, cornerback Josh Norman, and wide receiver Paul Richardson.

Now Washington is weighing what to do with the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The focal point of the second pick is whether to take Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, or trade the pick.

After using a first-round pick on Dwayne Haskins last year, taking Tagovailoa is debatable. And Young, the best player in the draft, would only bolster Washington’s strength on the defensive line. The team is down a second-round pick this year after making a trade in last year’s draft to take pass rusher Montez Sweat, but it also has a decent amount of cap space to spend in free agency.

Washington (3-13), missed playoffs

Washington faces difficulties this offseason because it has a lot of holes. If the draft weren’t so top heavy, Rivera should consider trading down to get more capital to rebuild the roster.

Before free agency:

  1. Offensive tackle: The Trent Williams saga plagued Washington as he sat out the season. He’s now looking for a trade. Donald Penn is a free agent and turns 37 in April. In a draft rich in offensive tackle talent, Washington might be able to land one in the second round. Isaiah Wilson of Georgia and Lucas Niang of TCU are good right tackle options, while Prince Tega Wanogho of Auburn and Ezra Cleveland of Boise State are starter-level players at left tackle.
  2. Tight end: Not only is Reed gone, but Vernon Davis retired after the season. That leaves Washington with underwhelming options like Jeremy Sprinkle and Caleb Wilson at tight end. With a young quarterback starting — whether it’s Haskins or Tagovailoa — having a tight end to check down to will be critical.
  3. Cornerback: Washington got out from Norman’s contract by releasing him in February. That’s good. Other than Quinton Dunbar, what the team has left at cornerback is not good. Fabian Moreau, a 2017 third-round pick, has underwhelmed. This is a position where Washington will need multiple upgrades in free agency and the draft.

What Hogs Haven wants the most this offseason: Fans are sensing that things are on the rise in Washington this offseason. Rivera at the top of a coach-centric model makes sense. The end to the senselessness of Bruce Allen was a common sense move showing that maybe ... just maybe ... owner Dan Snyder has come to his senses. What does Hogs Haven want most? A continued lack of nonsense, please. Just my two cents. — Ken Meringolo

After free agency:

It’s been a busy offseason for Washington, which is gearing up for several big position battles this offseason. The secondary underwent a makeover with the signings of Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby, while Richard Rodgers is a high-potential signing at the tight end position. Linebackers Thomas Davis and Kevin Pierre-Louis should be a boost to the front seven as well.

  1. Offensive tackle: Washington needs to get more protection for Haskins and Allen at quarterback. If Trent Williams is staying, then great, but even if he does, the team needs a long-term replacement.
  2. Edge: Nate Orchard is a solid depth pickup, but Washington could use a premium pass rusher. Most figure that will be Young with the second overall pick, and that would immediately transform the defense into one of the league’s elite.
  3. Wide receiver: Terry McLaurin looks like a star at the position, but there isn’t much after him, even if Kelvin Harmon shows some promise. Still, this is the right draft to be snaring a wide receiver (or more than one).

After the draft:

In the end, there was no suspense. Rivera couldn’t pass up a potential generational talent for his defense. Washington wisely took Young with the No. 2 pick and now might boast the league’s scariest defensive line. The team is hoping that side of the ball can dominate to carry a young offense that is still growing.

Washington waited to trade Williams until it drafted Haskins a left tackle. That will presumably be fourth-round pick Saahdiq Charles out of LSU, though he still needs developing. Haskins will have a couple new weapons, too. Versatile back Antonio Gibson, a third-round pick from Memphis, is a threat as a passer and runner. Liberty receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden is an intriguing fourth-round pick who can be a big target for Haskins.

Dan Kadar’s draft grade: B+