Speed and versatility aren't the only common themes of Washington's draft class

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Peter Hailey
·3 min read
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Speed and versatility aren't only themes of WFT's draft class originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Football Team's 2021 Draft class consists of 10 players, and each of those rookies fits into one or both of the following categories: The speedsters and the versatile guys. 

There's another theme among the crew, however, that might be even more applicable than how fast they are or how multi-talented they are, and it relates to how experienced they are.

For the most part, Ron Rivera's newest players saw a ton of action at their respective schools.

Aside from first-round linebacker Jamin Davis and third-round defensive back Benjamin St-Juste (who started 11 times and nine times in their college careers, respectively) and seventh-rounder Dax Milne (who only truly emerged at BYU in 2020), every other member of the Burgundy and Gold's haul were fixtures in the lineup across multiple seasons before declaring for the NFL.

Safety Darrick Forrest started 36 contests at Cincinnati, while Sam Cosmi was the first-string tackle at Texas for 34 matchups. Dyami Brown (30 starts) finished just behind those two.

William Bradley-King, Shaka Toney and John Bates, meanwhile, all registered more than 20 starts during their NCAA tenures, and each of them received reps in at least 39 games overall. Even specialist Camaron Cheeseman snapped for punts and kicks on more than 30 separate occasions for Michigan.

And in this year — more than perhaps any other — all that run could make a difference.

In a draft cycle where so many rising pros went into the event off of a campaign that they completely or largely opted out of — meaning they were down a season's worth of film — Washington should feel very confident in the evaluations of their next wave of contributors.

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It's not like Rivera and his scouts are wishing they had more tape for the majority of their selections, after all, since the majority of their selections racked up snaps in 2020 and in the couple of years before that, too. All of that exposure, in theory, should mean that Washington has a tremendous grasp of what their new pieces can and can't handle.

In fact, last summer, one prominent person on the coaching staff admitted that he believed he did his best studying of the college game in 2020 because, due to the pandemic, he didn't have much else to do other than watch clip after clip of potential draftees. If his fellow decision-makers think that as well, then they collectively ought to love whom they just acquired, since the bulk of the class had extended opportunities to display their skills.

On top of the copious amounts of footage these prospects bring with them thanks to their experience, logic would tell you that if they were being relied on to chip in week in and week out, then they weren't dealing with injuries or suspensions. In other words, there are really no known durability or character questions pertaining to Rivera's picks, issues that always have the chance to ruin someone's development.

On the list of dependable things in life, the NFL Draft sits right in between an amateur golfer on a hole with water and a puppy being taken off the leash for the first time ever. So, of course, it's dangerous to assume that Washington just assembled an unassailable group of rookies.

Now, that said, it does appear that Rivera attempted to identify as many close-to-sure things as he possibly could over the weekend, judging by how the number of starts so many of his choices earned before joining the league. Hopefully, they'll reward him by continuing to earn them at the next level.