One NFL Draft strategy for Washington that hasn’t been focused on

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Peter Hailey
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One draft strategy for Washington that hasn’t been focused on originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

So much of the draft-related discussion centered around the Washington Football Team has focused on them either trading up, presumably to nab a quarterback, or staying put at 19th overall and selecting whatever prospect they most prefer.

Because both of those outcomes lead to so many intriguing follow-ups — which QB should the franchise aggressively pursue, and how much should it give up in a swap? What position will the club target at 19 if it remains there, and which stars could slip to that spot? — it feels like a typically beloved approach by those on the outside isn't getting its usual run.

That approach, of course, is trading down.

Compared to the chaos-causing vault up the board, trading down isn't sexy. And when an organization's original first-round standing is already in the draft's latter half, passing on its turn and further delaying its opening choice is often met with groans from fans. How much later do we have to wait now? 

Ron Rivera, though, shouldn't and won't care about whether he and his front office generate buzz or if they have to hang around closer to midnight in order to net their first college addition. Instead, all that will be on that group's mind is how to best improve a roster that won a division title and could very well be in competition to secure another one in 2021.

And trading down, according to some experts and respected minds, is the most surefire way to accomplish that goal.

Related: 5 bold predictions for Washington's 2021 NFL Draft

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta recently told reporters that the draft is a "luck-driven process" and he believes that Baltimore has been so successful at navigating that process simply because they've prioritized collecting as many picks as possible. 

Colts GM Chris Ballard mirrored DeCosta's stance when Ballard explained to Indianapolis media that, "This is not an exact science, you need a little luck... The more picks you have, the more chances at luck are going to show up. That’s a philosophy that we have in the draft."

Now, it'd be one thing if the Jaguars and Lions were touting that ideology. Since these thoughts are coming from the leaders of the Ravens and Colts, two AFC staples, they carry quite a bit of weight.

Consider, too, that one GM told NBC's Peter King that "35 to 75 is the hotbed of this draft," with King adding that a "record number" of squads would like to move down. 

So, should the Burgundy and Gold look to execute such a plan?

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Currently, Rivera and Co. have eight selections at their disposal: Nos. 19, 51, 74, 82, 124, 163, 244 and 246. That gives them capital in the first and second round, two shots in the third, one attempt in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the seventh. 

In other words, as is, Washington isn't hurting for assets and could emerge from the weekend with a helpful haul. There's hope that the team will benefit from the quarterback craze and come away with an unexpected stud on Thursday, and they possess two pieces of real estate in the "hotbed" that the one executive laid out to King.

However, this event is consistently difficult to dominate and that may be even more true in 2021, thanks to the COVID-19 opt-outs and lack of clarity on many players' medical backgrounds. The league's whiff rate may reach unforeseen levels beginning in a few days.

That's why it might be most advantageous for Rivera to trade down, even if there hasn't been much advocation for that strategy leading up to the draft. The more you swing, after all, the more likely you are to make contact.