Washington Controls the 2020 NFL Draft

Washington holds the second pick of the draft. This you know. You also know that every mock draft on earth has them selecting Chase Young from Ohio State. Ok, some have them trading out of the pick. However, the overwhelming majority of mock drafts have the same top three picks: Joe Burrow to Cincinnati, Young to Washington, and Jeffrey Okudah to Detroit.

For the purposes of this article, let’s assume Burrow does go first despite the rumor mill losing its mind over him saying the word “leverage.” This brings us to Washington. The world is their oyster. They control the draft and are the biggest pivot point if they want to be. They have three distinct options at number two, with each choice being accompanied by varying degrees of a butterfly effect.

Draft Chase Young

Washington can opt for the simplest choice by merely selecting Young. You don’t need me to add detail to the match between the two. At this point, there is nothing to add. Every mock that doesn’t have Washington trading its pick puts Young there. There is a reason for it. Young is the best player in the draft not factoring in positional value. He is an elite edge prospect, superior to Nick Bosa when he was coming out of Ohio State.

Say what you will about ProFootballFocus, but the area where their college grades have shown the most predictive value at the NFL level is pass rushing, and Young just broke their single season passing rushing record. Point being, his bust odds are pretty low. This notion isn’t based purely on PFF grading as there is history to back this up. We all saw what Bosa just brought to the 49ers defense, but Josh Allen had a promising rookie campaign as well. The pair were joined in the top 10 of 2019 by Clelin Ferrell, who did not have as strong a start to his career. However, the pick was universally seen as a reach by the Raiders.

Modern History

So that was 2019. If we look at the rest of the prior decade, we have the following edge defenders drafting in the top 10:
Bradley Chubb (2018)
Myles Garrett (2017)
Joey Bosa (2016)
DeForest Buckner* (2016)
Leonard Floyd (2016)
Dante Fowler (2015)
Leonard Williams* (2015)
Vic Beasley (2015)
Jadeveon Clowney (2014)
Khalil Mack (2014)
Anthony Barr* (2014)
Dion Jordan (2013)
Barkevious Mingo (2013)
Von Miller (2011)
Aldon Smith (2011)

*It is a fair argument to say these individuals don’t play edge in the NFL and therefore, despite where they lined up in college, should not be included.

That’s 18 players this decade and J.J. Watt just missed the list as he went 11th in 2011. The only outright busts are Jordan and Mingo, both that went too high in a terrible draft class because their athleticism represented monster upside. While those distinguished with an asterisks may not be considered edge defenders in the NFL, they are all good pro players, which contributes to the hit rate.
13/15 is a small sample, sure, but it is an incredible hit rate for the draft. The draft is a crapshoot, and Washington is staring the closet thing to a lock as they’re going to see right in the face. People lose their jobs when they miss on the second pick of the draft. Take the wrong guy, or trade away the right guy, and you won’t be around much longer (unless, of course, your name is Ryan Pace).
No one can fault Washington for taking Young and calling it a day.


The other option presented in mock drafts is Washington trading the pick. It’s not that common, and most folks projecting Miami to trade up to secure Tua Tagovailoa have such a deal being struck with Detroit for the third pick. But if Miami, or whoever, wants to make 100% certain they walk out of the 2020 draft with Tua, then they must entice Washington to sell the second pick.
And Washington should be open to selling. Young alone is not going to propel Washington to the playoffs next season (even if the NFL wants to ruin the playoffs by adding a 7th team to each conference). What’s more, Washington doesn’t have their second rounder. So after (assumedly) taking Young, 63 selections will go by before Washington is back on the clock. It’s simply additional incentive to trade down.
Of course, the biggest draw of trading back is the bounty. It’s difficult to find consistency in the quarterback trade market during (or prior to) the draft. Last year, I tried to evaluate what the Jets’ trade market might be, had it ever developed. Of course, the Jets were the ones that inspired my initial math into the quarterback trade market dating back to the Eli trade.

Modern History

Washington can walk away with a haul. The ironic narrative that two election cycles later and it’s Washington trading away the second pick to a team desperate to grab the second best quarterback in the draft writes itself. The clicks will be immeasurable. What is measurable is how teams trading away the rights to a quarterback prospect have faired according to the Chase Stuart draft chart.


To go from #4 to #1 for Eli Manning in 2004, the Giants gave up #4, #11, #65, and #141. San Diego profited 21.6 points of draft capital. The 8th pick is worth 21.4 points.

To go from #6 to #2 for Robert Griffin in 2012, Washington gave up #2, #6, #22, and #36. St. Louis profited 49.9 points. The 1st pick is worth 34.6 points and the 21st pick is worth 15.2 points.

To go from #15 to #1 for Jared Goff in 2016, the St. Louis gave up #5, #15, #43, #45, #76, and #100 for #1, #113, and #117. Tennessee profited 34.3 points. The 1st pick is worth 34.6 points.

To go from #8 to #2 for Carson Wentz in 2016, the Philadelphia gave up #8, #12, #64, #77, and #100 for #2, and #139. Cleveland profited 27.1 points. The 3rd pick is worth 27.6 points.  

To go from #3 to #2 for Mitch Trubisky in 2017, the Chicago gave up #3, #67, #70, and #111. San Francisco profited 17.3 points. The 15th pick is worth 17.4 points.  

To go from #27 to #10 for Patrick Mahomes in 2017, Kansas City gave up #22, #27, and #91. Buffalo profited 14.5 points. The 23rd pick is worth 14.6 points and the 24th pick is worth 14.4 points.

To go from #24 to #12 for Deshaun Watson in 2017, Houston gave up #4 and #24.  Cleveland profited 21.4 points. The 8th pick is worth 21.4 points.

To go from #6 to #3 for Sam Darnold in 2018, the Jets gave up #6, #34, #37, and #49. Indianapolis profited 29.1 points. The second pick is worth 30.2 points.

To go from #12 to #7 for Josh Allen in 2018, Buffalo gave up #12, #53, and #56. Tampa Bay profited 14.9 points. The 22nd pick is worth 14.9 points.

To go from #15 to #10 for Josh Rosen in 2018, Arizona gave up #15, #79, and #152. Oakland profited 6.9 points. The 77th pick is worth 6.9 points.

Washington Miami Outlook

Let’s just focus on the Dolphins. They’re the most commonly linked to moving up for Tua. They allegedly #TankedForTua the entire season. They have the draft capital to make it happen. So what would a trade look like?

The reason why it’s so difficult to find a consistent pattern in these trades is there are too many variables. How good is the prospect? How far up the board are you traveling? Is this year’s class good, bad, deep, top heavy? How many other teams are bidding on the pick?

The best educated guess is Washington will find itself with a profit somewhere between the Darnold/Wentz trades and the Trubisky trade. The second pick is worth 30.2 points. Here is Miami’s main ammunition:

5th pick – 24.3 points
18th pick – 16.2
26th pick – 13.9
39th pick – 11.3
56th pick – 9
70th pick – 7.5

With the exception of New England, teams place a premium on present value against future value. While potential other bidders – Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina, Indianapolis – would need to part with future picks, Miami can set up Washington for 2020. If Washington is going to profit ~23.5 points, then we just need to do the math


Miami receives: #2

Washington receives: #5, #18, #39, 2021 5th round pick.

Miami fans may have sticker shock at this. Maybe they won’t. From what I’ve seen the trades floated to get up to second or third aren’t this robust, but I’m just going by history. This is one configuration. For the purposes of this article, let’s just roll with it. The 2020 picks get Washington to a 21.6 profit, and the vagueness of the 2021 5th round pick gets us to our guesstimated 23.5 mark.

Washington Las Vegas Outlook

I truly believe everyone is discounting the possibility that Las Vegas moves up for a quarterback. They’re armed with two firsts and three thirds in 2020. If they were satisfied with Derek Carr, why would they be interested in replacing him with a 43 yard old (on opening day) Tom Brady? Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock inherited Carr, they didn’t draft him. New regimes mean new quarterbacks.

Las Vegas could fall in love with Tua and make their own run at a top three pick. Another scenario is that Gruden falls in love with this “big, ATHletic quarterback from Oregon.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; if you watched Gruden during the drafts he covered for ESPN, it’s clear he thinks literally every quarterback prospect is a future Hall of Famer. A tools-y quarterback that can sit for a year behind Carr? Now, Carr may demand a trade out of town if the team brings in Justin Herbert, but in Gruden’s ideal world, Herbert doesn’t start until 2021, when Vegas can cut Carr for nearly $20 million in savings and only $2.5 million in dead money.

Not to mention the business aspect. Vegas just spent how much on a new stadium? New city, new glitz, new glam, new quarterback. And they could slide in at #5 *right in front* of division rival Los Angeles, who is commonly linked to Herbert? Twitter would have a meltdown.


The 5th pick is worth 24.3 points

Las Vegas Ammo:

12th pick – 18.8 points
19th pick – 15.8
80th pick – 6.7
81st pick – 6.6
91st pick – 5.9

Las Vegas receives: #5

Washington receives: #12, #19, #80

Washington would profit exactly 17 points worth of draft capital in this trade. Considering Vegas would be moving into the top 5, and that there is considered to be a significant drop off in quarterbacks after Herbert, Washington may charge more. On the other hand, Vegas can offer present value as opposed to future value, and Arizona didn’t give up much in relativity to go get Rosen when there was viewed to be a drop off after Rosen.


If Washington (literally) doubles down like this, they will have turned the second pick into picks 12, 18, 19, 39, 80, and a 2021 5th rounder. Unless Washington whiffs on *all* of those picks, it will be impossible for Chase Young to be solely more valuable. As for the math, Washington will have profited 40.6 points worth of draft capital. The first pick is worth 34.6 points. The 89th pick is worth 6 points. While not a single trade, the aggregate would top the Goff trade as the biggest ransom since the RGIII deal.

Draft Tua

Like my theory that no one is considering a distinct possibility in Vegas moving up for a quarterback, no one is giving credence to the idea that Washington may just take Tua themselves. Now, this is the least likely option. They just drafted Dwayne Haskins. Although “they” here is the franchise, and not Ron Rivera and whoever is in charge of player personnel at the moment. Considering Washington has this brilliant idea to not name a general manager until after the draft, it’s another reason to not oust Haskins after a single season.

But Arizona changed everything last year. Or maybe they didn’t. But we saw a team move on from a first round quarterback after one year for the first time in NFL history. Logic dictates the catalyst was the fact the new coach wanted his own quarterback. Had Kyler Murray not been Kill Kingsbury’s quarterback of choice, perhaps Rosen would have played 2019 in Arizona. Does Rivera want Tua? Perhaps. I don’t know, but it shouldn’t be deemed impossible.

If Rivera thinks Tua is clearly the better long-term idea, he’s going to advocate for the move. Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. Maybe he doesn’t want anything to do with Tua’s injuries. Rivera could think Tua is the best pure passing prospect he’s ever seen for all we know. Arizona changed what’s possible, so we have to consider our new reality.

Rookie Struggles

I won’t stump to give up on anyone after a single season. However, there is at least some evidence Haskins won’t pan out. During his rookie season, Haskins had the worst passer rating from a clean pocket, according to PFF. Among those with at least 200 clean drop backs in 2019, Haskins 81.8 passer rating was the worst in the league, and one of only four quarterbacks to end below 90.0. His raw stats from a clean pocket were 63.2% completion, 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions.

It’s a small sample size for sure, but the real issue is that clean pocket passing is the most stable statistic for a quarterback from year-to-year. Play and stats from under pressure fluctuate, while clean pocket passing has much more predictive value.

The rest isn’t encouraging. Haskins’ 26.4 QBR would have easily ranked last had he qualified. He was last in ANY/A. Out of 33 quarterbacks with 200 pass attempts in 2019, Haskins was 27th in IQR, 30th in Pass Points Earned, and 31st in On Target%.

Will it Happen?

Probably not. Arizona is the extreme outlier in league history. It took the perfect storm for them to bail on Rosen after one year. The point is, until we’re told it won’t, or it doesn’t, it should be considered a possibility. Then there’s the butterfly effect. What does Miami do? Panic? Take Herbert? Re-tank for Trevor Lawrence? Will Miami, Carolina, Vegas, and Indianapolis freak out and throw the kitchen sink at Detroit to secure Herbert? How far does Young fall? (Answer: not very. Also applicable to Tua going second via trade)

Washington has three options with the second pick and Burrow off the board. Whatever they decide will radically alter how the rest of the draft unfolds.

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