The Washington Football Team no longer has a young, highly drafted quarterback to groom as a franchise signal-caller. Savvy veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is set to start with Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen battling for backup duties in 2021. The long-term plan remains a question mark.
Sitting with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2021 draft and watching quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones fall out of the top 10, Washington could have tried to make a move up the draft board. Instead, it stuck pat and selected athletic linebacker Jamin Davis, after the two signal-callers were snapped up before WFT was on the clock.
Washington coach Ron Rivera joined NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Monday in the aftermath of the draft. He said that while there were discussions about potentially trading up for a QB, the club didn't want to part with the assets it would have taken to leap up the board.
"It was a big conversation we had, talking about the quarterback position, talking about the young men that we really liked a lot, but we also talked about an opportunity to solidify some other things, and if we dealt too much draft capital, we'd lose that opportunity," Rivera said. "We just thought, maybe if we slip to the right number, we could go ahead and do it. So there was a conversation. But we really felt strongly about just holding and just trying to fill the rest of the needs."
The Chicago Bears leaped up from No. 20 overall -- one pick behind Washington -- to No. 11 to draft Fields. Chicago sent the 20th pick, a 2022 first-rounder, a 2021 fifth-rounder, and a 2022 fourth to the Giants. Presuming it would have taken Washington a similar haul to get in the range to draft Fields -- though it's unlikely New York would have been keen on helping a division rival secure its franchise QB -- Washington decided to keep its assets.
Rivera is thrilled that he was able to land Davis, who projects as a coverage linebacker with the speed and tenacity to be a difference-maker behind Washington's scary defensive line.
"The nice thing about what we got, is we got a young man that can run," he said. "He can play football. He's got position flex, there's a couple spots that he could play for us. If something were to happen, he could also play the third spot. So we just like who he is."
With Fitzpatrick under center and the free-agent additions of Curtis Samuel on offense and William Jackson III on defense, along with a solid draft class, Washington believes it could be the first back-to-back NFC East division winner since 2003-2004 (Eagles).
"You know the scary word: potential," Rivera noted. "And we potentially could be a very good football team. But the biggest thing we got to do, is we got to, once we got an opportunity to start working again, we got to start improving and getting better as a football team. We've got a lot of things to kind of work through. We've got to learn to really play the way we need to play to be consistently good. We had some inconsistency last year. There's some things we're going to work to improve on. But I just like the direction we're headed. I think we've got an awful lot of young men that fit into the culture, they fit into the organization, they fit our football team, so we're excited about getting a chance to work with these guys."
With Fitzpatrick on a one-year deal and inexperience behind him, Washington's future under center remains a question. It's not one that Rivera sounds worried about answering now. The coach is comfortable playing out the season with his QBs. Then Washington can consider its options moving forward next year.