Entering the offseason, the Washington Football Team had holes to fill on both sides of the ball with two main opportunities to fill them. The first being free agency and the second being the NFL Draft.
In the first go-around, Washington did a lot of work to address needs on the offensive side of the ball. Ryan Fitzpatrick comes in as a serviceable option for the present at quarterback, Curtis Samuel is a versatile partner for Terry McLaurin that can work inside and out and Adam Humphries adds a traditional slot receiver to the mix.
Washington may have not answered every question on offense in free agency, but it answered a lot. NFL analyst and former exec Charley Casserly is a fan, and to him, the organization's approach in the first phase of the offseason could make things easier as the draft rolls around.
“They can line up right now and play and that’s what you want to do coming out of free agency is fill your needs, line up and play at each position," Casserly said on Washington Football Today
“They got that done. They’ve taken the pressure off themselves in the draft, I think, on the offensive side of the ball."
Casserly said Washington can still pursue offensive players in the draft. Tight end and offensive line depth will be important, and finding another receiver would be useful. However, with the additions in free agency, he believes Washington can focus on the defense early.
Looking at that unit, Casserly sees a few positions that could use help in the form of a high-rated prospect.
“Free safety, I think that’s wide open right now," Casserly said. “And then linebacker, I think they could use some help at linebacker, especially in coverage."
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Linebacker is definitely a position of need in Washington, and coach Ron Rivera himself has been clear about that. During the 2020 season, he was openly frustrated with the unit's inability to play aggressively and free at times. As for safety, Casserly feels that the secondary still needs work. While he's a big fan of the signing of William Jackson III at cornerback, he's not sold on the last line of defense just yet.
Both are spots in Washington that Casserly views as "open" and in need of impact players going forward. With Washington set to pick at No. 19, there is a good chance some top options for those position groups will be in their range. Evaluating the moves made on offense in free agency, Casserly feels comfortable looking for defense instead.
If Fitzpatrick wasn't on the roster, there may be a greater focus on the quarterback -- though there still could be. If Samuel and Humphries weren't signed, Washington may have felt that grabbing an elite receiving option was necessary. Yet, with those positions being reinforced recently, it can allow for Rivera and company to shift priorities.
It doesn't mean Washington can't and shouldn't draft some offense, it just means that, according to Casserly, the team doesn't need to force a pick if it's not there and instead can look to upgrades on defense.