Sitting at 4-7*, the Washington Football Team may not seem like anything special to most viewers of the NFL. I, as a die-hard fan of this team, beg to differ. What this team lacks in wins, it makes up for with a promising future. It starts with the head coach, Ron Rivera. Ron is a proven winner, a gutsy coach, and more recently, a fighter (he just finished cancer treatment). The team’s defensive line is another strength. Anchored by Chase Young, arguably the best player in last year's draft, this defensive line has the potential to be incredible; it has had some dominant stretches throughout this year. Another bright spot, and the focus of this article, are the team's third-rounders.
Washington has struck gold in the third round of the NFL draft the past couple of years. Pete Hailey of NBC Sports even went as far as to tweet “Washington should trade all of its draft capital for as many third-round picks as possible… Try to own the entire third round if [they] can”. While this tweet is sarcastic (and outrageous), it does carry some truth to it.
The 2020 third-round pick (and current rookie) that Washington drafted is running back Antonio Gibson. Gibson, nicknamed “The Weapon” for both his running and pass-catching versatility, just put up 3 touchdowns on Thanksgiving. Not to mention 115 yards rushing. Though arguably, his strongest trait is his tendency to score. At Memphis, where he went to college, Gibson scored a touchdown every 5.5 times he touched the ball. Currently, Gibson is third among all running backs in touchdowns and has 645 rushing yards (with limited snaps).
Washington’s 2019 third-round pick is Terry McLaurin. Terry is the best receiver from the 2019 draft class (yes, better than DK Metcalf) and has already established himself as a top 10 receiver in football. This season Terry is fifth in the league in receiving yards, but I suspect he’ll be higher by the season's end. Terry’s numbers should be marveled at further because he’s had to deal with so many quarterbacks. Even though he’s been in the league for only two years, he’s had to adjust to five different quarterbacks.
Looking past the 2019 draft, we see more Pro Bowl level talent taken in the third round with CB Kendall Fuller and OT Morgan Moses. Washington practically doesn’t miss on these third-rounders! There’s not too much pressure on Washington as it makes a playoff push this year because there is so much promise for future contention. Yes, this is due to the revamped coaching staff, solidified D-Line, and changed culture. Some might even credit the name change to flipping the Karma of the organization. But I would say it boils down to the home runs the front office has been hitting on third-round picks.
*Washington is tied for first in the NFC East Division right now, so the record is a bit deceptive.