There were plenty of high hopes about the Washington Football Team's draft class from Ron Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew. They showed conviction in their players, saying that they were ideal fits for their culture and vision for the team.
Washington has had eight regular season games to evaluate the class heading into the bye week. It's been a gradual process with plenty of room to grow, but from what Rivera has seen, it's heading in the right direction.
Washington's first three picks -- Jamin Davis, Sam Cosmi and Benjamin St-Juste -- have all had extensive playing time and had their share of positive moments and areas of growth. But the trio only makes up part of the class' impact. So, let's take a look at how each player has performed up to this point in their careers.
Jamin Davis (Round 1, No. 19 overall)
2021 stats: 34 tackles (23 solo)
There have been moments where Davis has shown exactly why Washington decided to use its first-round pick on him to strengthen its linebacker corps. He has flashed his speed to pursue ball-carriers, and with the rookie getting 98% of the defensive snaps against the Green Bay Packers and 79% against the Denver Broncos, he's had plenty of opportunities to show that. It's led to some results, too; over the past three games, he's recorded 18 tackles and a quarterback hit.
Rivera said he's feeling "pretty pleased" about some of Davis' progress. He also mentioned there are some areas he can get better at. Part of that requires Davis to play more freely and stop overthinking. His desire to be exact with everything he does has resulted in performance lapses, but whenever he lets it rip, as defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio puts it, he can use all of his talents more effectively.
"I'm pretty hard on myself with a lot of things," Davis said. "That was one of the things I sat down and talked to [the coaches] about … You just gotta make plays, and they're with me, right or wrong."
Sam Cosmi (Round 2, No. 51 overall)
Cosmi has missed the past three games with an ankle injury and is one of the players Washington is hoping to get healthy during the bye week. But when the former Texas Longhorn is on the field, he's been one of the standout performers from the class.
After going against the likes of Chase Young and Montez Sweat on a daily basis during training camp, Cosmi has locked down the right tackle position on Washington's offensive line. Pro Football Focus has given him an overall grade of 77, which ranks 12th in the NFL among tackles and 2nd behind Rashawn Slater. He's only allowed one sack all season, and his run-blocking grade of 89 is fourth-best in the league. His return, whenever that might be, will surely be a welcome sight for the offense.
"I really like what we got from Sam until he got hurt," Rivera said, "but Sam really seemed to pick it up quickly."
Benjamin St-Juste (Round 3, No. 74 overall)
2021 stats: 26 tackles (20 solo), 3 pass breakups
With his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, St-Juste has been an active member of Washington's secondary ever since he made a strong first impression in training camp. He missed Washington's Week 4 game against the Atlanta Falcons, but other than that brief absence, he has made steady improvements.
St-Juste's ability to run while using his hands and length were what enticed Washington to draft him out of Minnesota. His "quick trigger" against the run was lumped into that skillset by Mayhew, and so far that has been a valuable asset. He's currently third among Washington's cornerbacks in tackles, including six against the Broncos in Week 8.
"I like how Benjamin is working and becoming a quality young player in this league," Rivera said.
Dyami Brown (Round 3, No. 82 overall)
2021 stats: 8 receptions, 81 yards
Like Cosmi, Dyami Brown is another player who has missed time recently. He appeared in 10 snaps against the Packers but left with a knee injury and did not return.
When Brown has been active, though, his ability as a complementary option to Terry McLaurin has been on display at times. He had three receptions for 34 yards against the New York Giants and three for 30 against the Kansas City Chiefs. There are other times when he hasn't been as active. In all other games, Brown has two catches on eight targets. Rivera hopes to get Brown back on the field soon, where he can continue his development.
"He's a guy with tremendous speed and we saw what that speed can do," Rivera said, "but we've got to get a little bit more out of it."
John Bates (Round 4, No. 124 overall)
2021 stats: 2 receptions, 11 yards
The stats will show that John Bates hasn't had that much of an impact in the passing game, but the former Boise State tight end's influence has been felt in other ways.
In addition to being a consistent special teams contributor -- he's averaged appearing in about 40% of the snaps -- he has been a valuable blocker in multiple tight end sets. This has been particularly true with Logan Thomas on Injured Reserve, and Rivera said earlier in the season that Bates has filled in well as Washington's No. 2 tight end while Ricky Seals-Jones has emerged as the team's top option at the position.
"I think John Bates has done an excellent job," Rivera said. "When Logan got hurt, you could really see him stepping up and taking advantage of his opportunity."
Darrick Forrest (Round 5, No. 163 overall)
Darrick Forrest has yet to make his NFL debut, due to being on Injured Reserve since the start of the season. However, the former Cincinnati Bearcat returned to the active roster Tuesday afternoon, so he could see action in the near future. When he does see the field, he will likely fill a role on special teams, which played a large role in why Washington drafted him.
Camaron Cheeseman (Round 6, No. 225 overall)
Camaron Cheeseman was dropped in as Washington's starting long snapper after Nick Sundberg, who held the position for 11 seasons, was released in May. It's an important job for a rookie to handle, but so far Cheeseman has handled the responsibility well in punts and field goal attempts. The Cheese can snap, Tress Way said in training camp, and he also offered some advice: be selfish when it comes to his preparation.
"We're playing a team game, but you getting prepared on the sideline [with] your routines or drills that you have to do," Way said, "you have to be selfish in what gets you ready."
Shaka Toney (Round 7, No. 246 overall)
Shaka Toney has been inactive in all but two games this season and played in just 18 snaps -- 14 on defense and four on special teams. He has yet to record a tackle, but Rivera and Mayhew spoke highly of him during the offseason. They will continue to develop him this season.
Dax Milne (Round 7, No. 258 overall)
2021 stats: 4 receptions, 44 yards
As the next-to-last pick in the draft, Dax Milne faced an uphill battle to earn a spot on Washington's roster as part of a receiving corps that included McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries and Cam Sims. Milne was able to impress coaches with his abilities in the slot, and he has steadily been more involved over the last two games with three receptions on six targets for 38 yards.
"I think Dax is a guy that can really come on and do some of the things that we're looking for at that position because he's a good young guy."