Fred Smoot and Santana Moss played on opposite sides of the ball in their careers with the Washington Football Team, but they agree on two things when it comes to what it should do at receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft.
For starters, whoever Washington potentially draft needs to elevate Terry McLaurin. McLaurin is Washington's No. 1 receiver, but a player added must push McLaurin as tries to build on his first-career 1,000-yard season.
But with this year's class being so deep, that player does not have to come with the No. 19 overall selection. In fact, Smoot and Moss believe that is the path Washington should take. Barring the opportunity to take one of the top receivers, they see scores of players deeper in the draft who are just as talented.
"I'm gonna always look at the deepest position and say, 'I can get it next round,'" Smoot told senior vice president of media and content Julie Donaldson. "I don't have to get it at the top end to get a top-end talent. If you look at top-end talent, you usually get it in the second, third, fourth round, and we've been magic in the third round. So think about it in the big picture."
There are several receivers who are considered to be at the top of this year's class, including Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Ja'Marr Chase. Smoot wants Washington to look at other positions at 19th overall, but if he was forced to choose a receiver, it would be Florida's Kadarius Toney -- one of the most popular players mocked to Washington by analysts.
Toney had his best season in 2020 with 70 receptions for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also added 161 yards on the ground, displaying the position flexibility that head coach Ron Rivera offensive coordinator Scott Turner covet.
"He can do a little bit of everything," Smoot said. "I like Swiss army knives. This is a guy who can return punts, this is a guy who can play running back, this is a guy who can play slot, this is a guy who can play outside. He can do a little bit of it all."
But even when considering Toney, Smoot also asked himself why he would use the 19th pick on him when there are other receivers deeper in the draft who have a similar skillset. For Moss, it was a similar situation with the 2001 draft that featured himself, Chad Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Only Moss and Wayne were selected in the first round, but the group combined for 19 Pro Bowls, 57,655 yards and 340 touchdowns.
That turns out to be an advantage in Washington's favor. While the team does need to bolster the wide receiver position, it does not need to aim high to do so. Instead, the team can use its first-round pick on other positions of need.
"These guys have the talent," Moss said, "so there's no reason to go after just one of them because not one of them is that much more elite than the other."
In terms of Toney's ability, Smoot brought up two players who could be available in later rounds. The first is Purdue's Rondale Moore, a product out of New Albany, Indiana, who did not put up similar numbers to Toney because he only played in three games. However, he did put up 2,163 yards from scrimmage in three seasons, including 1,258 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018. There are some who see him as a first-round talent, but others predict he could be taken in the second.
"Rondale Moore is a very intriguing weapon," according to Walter Football’s second-round mock draft. "He accumulated 1,367 yards as a freshman by both running and receiving. Some NFL team is going to figure out a great way to use the extremely talented 175-pounder."
The other player Smoot mentioned was Elijah Moore out of Ole Miss. He does not necessarily have Toney's versatility, but he does have similar receiving talent. Moore caught 86 passes for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns, and Smoot believes the transition to the NFL will not be a difficult one for him.
Washington already has plenty of speed at wide receiver with McLaurin and Steven Sims Jr., but if it wanted to add to that group, Smoot also named Auburn's Anthony Schwartz. Not only does he have impressive numbers on the field -- he has 1,756 total yards from scrimmage in three seasons – but he has a 4.27 40-yard dash time, was the 2018 Gatorade national boys' track and field athlete of the year and won a gold medal in the 4x100 relay at the IAAF U20 world championships in Finland.
"Anthony Schwartz can run with the wind," Smoot said. "This guy can really get out there and get it. He's a guy you can get in the fourth or fifth [round]."
Whether Washington goes after one of more highly regarded prospects or waits until later in the draft to address the receiver position, Moss' biggest concern is that whoever the team brings in needs to push McLaurin and the other receivers. Adding a player like that could help Washington's passing attack, which finished 25th in the league last year, become a more potent threat to defenses.
"All it's going to do is make everybody in the room better, and that's what you need," Moss said. "You need a guy...that's going to check Terry and check everyone in the room to also bring their game up so we can have a complete room. ...You want all those guys to be lethal enough to raise the bar."