The Washington Redskins' 2018 draft class has the potential to be a productive one, but they'll need some midround picks to develop. They found a strong starting nose tackle in Daron Payne, and second-round pick Derrius Guice would have been a full-time starter if not for a torn ACL in August. There's a chance that, within the next two seasons, this class will produce three starters and some quality backups.
Best rookie: Daron Payne. It wasn’t even close, although that’s because Guice hurt his knee in the first preseason game. Guice looked like an all-around solid back before his injury. But Payne showed that he can do more than just help against the run; he has the strength and quickness to have an impact as a pass-rusher as well. The Redskins overplayed their young linemen early in the season, and it wore them down, but even at the end, Payne was playing at a solid level. They could have selected safety Derwin James or linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Both would have been good choices. But Payne should be a solid player for a while in Washington.
Most improved rookie: A tie between DL Tim Settle and LB Shaun Dion Hamilton. Settle, a fifth-round pick, lost around 30 pounds and worked on his technique to become part of the rotation. In the first eight games, he played 27 snaps; in the final eight, he played 102 and showed that he’ll be a key part of the rotation. Hamilton, a sixth-round pick, started the last four games. There was season-long frustration with previous starter Zach Brown, and Hamilton finally reached the point where the coaches believed he was ready. He displayed smarts and instincts, compensating for being a smaller linebacker. Whether he starts in future years remains to be seen, but his versatility -- he can play either inside linebacker spot -- will make him a valuable backup, if nothing else.
Jury is still out on …: Almost everyone else, thanks largely to injuries. Guice looked like a standout in camp as a runner and in the passing game, but it’s hard to know if his knee will respond next season. Third-round tackle Geron Christian struggled when he had to play, whether in preseason or two games during the season before he suffered a season-ending torn MCL. But he was always viewed as a longer-range project because the Redskins had three other tackles. Fourth-round safety Troy Apke also was not impressive in his two games -- hamstring injuries shortened his season -- but the Redskins like his special-teams ability and speed. Seventh-round pick Greg Stroman struggled but was forced to play sooner than desired because of poor depth at the position. They also learned that he is best used inside, where he has a chance to develop. Adonis Alexander, a sixth-round pick in the supplemental draft in July, was behind all season because he wasn't picked until after the offseason program. Next season will tell more about him.
Undrafted rookie evaluation: The Redskins finished with three undrafted position players on their roster and three others on injured reserve. The latter were the ones who made the 53-man roster out of training camp: receiver Cam Sims, lineman Casey Dunn and corner Danny Johnson. Sims, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener, is the one to watch. He was raw coming out of Alabama but impressed in camp with his ability to make contested big catches. He also blocks well and plays special teams. Sims needs to develop as a consistent route-runner to make an impact. Tight end Matt Flanagan, more of a blocker, will compete for a spot in 2019.