SEABROOK – The Washington Redskins addressed many positional needs during the 2018 NFL Draft held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on April 26 through April 28 and selected eight players who hope to make an instant impact in Burgundy and Gold.
With the eight picks, Washington has now selected at least seven players in eight consecutive drafts for the first time since the league adopted the seven-round format in 1994.
With the 13th overall pick, the Redskins added another University of Alabama player to their defense, selecting Crimson Tide lineman Da’Ron Payne. The six-foot-two defensive tackle is a 208-pound run stopping menace with explosive speed for his size to make big plays in the backfield. During his three-year stint at Alabama, Payne racked up 102 tackles, three sacks, had one fumble recovery and accounted for an interception.
Washington was in dire need of a running back after having the 28th rushing offense in the league just a year ago. That led the Redskins to be proactive in obtaining arguably one of the best running backs in the draft during the second round (59th selection) after they traded down to grab Derrius Guice from Louisiana State University.
Guice is the first running back selected by Washington in the second round since the Redskins took Ladell Betts (University of Iowa) with the No. 56 overall pick in 2002.
“We looked at the reports and talked to Derrius and Derrius's agent and got a pretty good indication that we felt good about taking Derrius at that position and we're lucky to get him,” Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden said. “This is a hard-nosed runner, who plays hard, he can catch a football, he can pass protect, he's got good vision and (he's) a guy we really liked in the early rounds.”
Guice is a powerful runner who excels at making guys miss while having breakaway potential in the open field. He rushed for more than 3,000 yards in three years for the Tigers and scored 29 touchdowns while averaging 6.5 yards per carry on the ground.
Guice should have some nice holes to run through after the Redskins tightened up the offensive line by selecting Geron Christian from the University of Louisville in the third round. The six-foot-five tackle started all 13 games for the Cardinals last season and was an all-conference honorable mention selection too.
“To add the third-round pick and get Geron (Christian) was a great benefit for us," Gruden said.
Washington looked to add even more depth to the defensive side of the ball after selecting four straight players on defense. The Redskins selected Penn State University defensive back Troy Akpe in the fourth round, Virginia Tech lineman Tim Settle in the fifth, Alabama linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton in the sixth and then Virginia Tech defensive back Greg Stroman in the seventh round.
Apke played safety for the Nittany Lions and tallied 55 tackles and an interception during his three-year stint with the team and recorded a 4.34-second time in the 40-yard dash during the NFL Combine.
“You know, it's been a great journey," Apke said about his playing career. “I came into Penn State as a receiver, switched to safety, had a good career there. The combine, everything was good. I'm just excited right now and, you know, it's a dream come true. It's what I have been waiting for.”
Settle recorded 53 tackles and got to the quarterback four times in his collegiate career. Hamilton will join Payne and former Crimson Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson and defensive lineman Johnathan Allen after racking up 134 tackles and 4.5 sacks during his four-year career at Alabama. Stroman accounted for 65 tackles and nine interceptions during his four-year tenure with the Hokies.
With the final pick of the NFL draft, the Redskins selected Southern Methodist University (SMU) wide receiver Trey Quinn as “Mr. Irrelevant.” Quinn had an impressive senior year for the Mustangs after hauling in 114 receptions for 1,236 yards and 13 touchdowns.
"There’s a big chip on my shoulder, and you'll see it on me, but I'm excited," Quinn said after being the last pick in the draft. "I'm excited to be a part of an organization, and after a long day, I'm kind of stressed out. “I’m just excited to be a part of the’Skins and go dominate a little bit.”
All in all, Washington had a productive draft experience that included two trades and time will tell how each draft pick will pan out. However, Gruden feels confident with the selections that were made which should spark some competition in the offseason.
“Well, I think everybody feels good about their draft,” Gruden said. "We feel very good. We got some players we wanted – we were intrigued about – we got them.
Trey Quinn is a very exciting prospect. At SMU, he caught a lot of balls, did some punt return. He’s a great option route runner, great feel in zones, strong hands, good physical blocker, good after the catch. Shaun Dion Hamilton, obviously a leader of that defense at Alabama, one of the smarter players that I've heard about on that defense communicated. Had a couple of injuries, we understand, but from our trainers, we feel like he's going to be good to go. So I think overall, I feel good about it.