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Mock Draft Monday: Here's Who NFL.com's Bucky Brooks Has Washington Taking In The First Round

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Ron Rivera hit a proverbial home run with his first draft pick as the head coach of the Washington Football Team.

Chase Young, selected second overall, exceeded expectations by making the Pro Bowl, earning Defensive Player of the Month in December and becoming the franchise's first Defensive Rookie of the Year. His game-changing plays, combined with his "crazy unusual" leadership, immediately made him one of the faces of a team on the rise.

Rivera's second swing will be with the No. 19 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he'll have a pair of new executives -- general manager Martin Mayhew and executive vice president of football/player personnel Marty Hurney -- helping him make that decision. They'll aim to add another valuable piece to help build a consistent winner.

In anticipation for that selection, which will be made April 29, Washingtonfootball.com will highlight one mock draft from a notable draft expert each week and delve into how that player would fit with Washington. Here are the analysts who have been highlighted over the past month:

Next up is NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks:

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

Heisman Trophy winner, anyone?

Smith is coming off a record-setting season in nearly every statistical category and became just the fourth wide receiver ever to win college football's most prestigious award. And if he falls all the way to 19, it might be too enticing for Washington to pass up.

"The silky-smooth pass catcher would complete a WR corps that already features speed and explosiveness with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel in place," Brooks wrote in his latest mock draft March 23.

To some, this selection might not make sense based on how Washington revamped the wide receiver position during free agency. It brought in the speedy and versatile Samuel to pair with his former college teammate in McLaurin, then added proven slot receiver Adam Humphries, reuniting him with Ryan Fitzpatrick, who helped him put up career numbers in Tampa Bay.

Add in Kelvin Harmon coming back from injury and Antonio Gandy-Golden, a 2020 fourth-round pick, having a full offseason to develop, and offensive coordinator Scott Turner seems to have a bevy of weapons to execute a scheme he envisions being "as unpredictable as possible."

But even in another loaded wide receiver class, Smith has found ways to stand out. Just ask NFL media analyst Daniel Jeremiah.

"He's a silky-smooth route runner who accelerates into and out of the break point, which creates an unusual amount of separation against quality competition," wrote Jeremiah, who ranked Smith No. 6 in his latest top 50 prospect rankings. "He has complete faith in his hands, allowing him to run through the ball (without gathering his feet) on underneath and intermediate crossers. His leaping ability and length creates some special high-point grabs. He has a second gear after the catch and surprising toughness to break tackles. He competes as a blocker, too."

Jeremiah described Smith as a "rail-thin wideout," which has been his biggest knock as he prepares to play at the next level. Some doubt his 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame can withstand repeated hits over the middle from NFL defenders.

But with this "long arms, excellent play speed and outstanding hands," Jeremiah does not anticipate his physique being an issue whatsoever. Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who recently spoke to the media about Smith, agrees.

"There are bigger people who don't perform anywhere near how he performs," Saban said of Smith, who finished in the top 6 in NCAA history in receiving yards (1,856) and receiving touchdowns (23) in 2020. "There are people that are bigger than him that don't have the competitive spirit that he has, nor the competitive toughness."

Washington does not technically need Smith, but it did not technically need Chase Young, either (see: four former first-round picks), and look how the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year transformed the defense from disruptive to dominant.

It's unfair to expect the same impact from Smith, but with him in the lineup, the passing offense would instantly become one of the most dangerous in the NFL in terms of potential. Stop McLaurin, and there's Samuel. Contain Samuel, and Smith beats you deep. Cover all of them, and Humphries still converts on third down.

Likely gone are the struggles of the past two seasons, when Washington ranked 31st and 30th, respectively, in total yards per game. This revamped unit should be able to consistently move down the field this fall, and adding Smith would only make it that much easier.

"People inside the Alabama program rave about his character, work ethic and professionalism," Jeremiah said. "Smith should emerge as a high-volume weapon as soon as his cleats hit an NFL field."

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