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Ron Rivera felt a need for speed in this year's draft; Washington's selections posted blazing 40 times
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Ron Rivera felt a need for speed in this year's draft; Washington's selections posted blazing 40 times

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Senior Bowl Football

Long snapper Camaron Cheeseman of Michigan was selected by Washington in the sixth round of the NFL draft on Saturday.

Martin Mayhew said he wanted the Washington roster to get faster, younger and healthier.

Washington addressed its top positions of need in this year’s draft, and the players selected by the Football Team all had one thing in common — they’re fast.

General manager Martin Mayhew said it wasn’t the sole criteria, but adding team speed was an important consideration.

“None of those guys were picked just specifically for their speed,” Mayhew said. “But yeah, we want to get faster, we want to get younger, we want to get healthier. That’s the purpose of the draft from my standpoint, and all these guys have brought that to the table for us.”

The second day brought two examples of the focus on fast, as the team used its second-round selection on offensive lineman Samuel Cosmi of Texas. At 4.84, his 40-yard dash time would have been the fastest at last year’s combine (the event was not held this year because of the pandemic).

Cosmi will compete with a speedy left tackle drafted last year, Saadhiq Charles, for a starting role that’s been in flux since Trent Williams departed.

“We’re going to put him out at left tackle and see how he does,” coach Ron Rivera said. “That’s what he did in college, and he played it very well in college. That’s why we think he’s a really good pick for us, because of what he does. He’s going to get an opportunity to compete for us, and we’ll see how he does.”

A pair of third-round selections netted Minnesota cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, and later, North Carolina wide receiver Dyami Brown, who was hailed as one of the steals of the draft by analysts.

Like the selection of Terry McLaurin two years ago, it wasn’t a position of pressing need for Washington, but Brown’s talent represented too great of an opportunity.

Brown’s 40 time of 4.44 will fit in with McLaurin (4.35) and newly signed receiver Curtis Samuel (4.31), which will provide Ryan Fitzpatrick plenty of opportunities to put the pedal to the medal.

North Carolina coach Mack Brown said Brown will be able to hang at the pro level.

“He can absolutely fly, and there wasn’t a defense we saw that could keep him from getting over the top on them,” Brown said. “He also increased his technical ability [while in college], becoming a better route runner.”

Day 3 traditionally brings an emphasis on team depth, and this year’s draft was no different.

In an midafternoon trade with the Eagles, Washington added two picks, one in the sixth round and one in the seventh, in exchange for a fifth-rounder next year.

The day opened with the selection of tight end John Bates, who represented one of the few deviations from the speed approach.

Bates is a blocking tight end, a role Washington doesn’t have filled. Logan Thomas filled in ably in 2020, but it’s not a natural fit for him.

The team also selected safety Darrick Forrest of Cincinnati (4.38 in the 40-yard dash), and long snapper Camaron Cheeseman, to replace the departed Nick Sundberg.

The seventh round included two defensive-line selections — William Bradley-King of Baylor and Penn State’s Shaka Toney as well as BYU wide receiver Dax Mline.

The defensive linemen were a chance for the team to get a value play, with Washington set in the short term at the position, but potentially needing depth behind Chase Young and Montez Sweat in case of injuries.

Toney contracted COVID-19 and missed most of the college season, in addition to losing 25 pounds.

But he had a strong showing at his pro day and maintains he’ll be able to jump back into form. He also impressed at his pro day in the 40-yard dash, logging a time of 4.55 seconds.

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

Twitter: @michaelpRTD

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