ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — By taking TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson with the 22nd overall pick in the NFL draft, the Washington Redskins added a red-zone target for quarterback Kirk Cousins while finding someone who eventually could help replace DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Doctson said Thursday night. “I met with them one time and it was an informal interview at the combine. I didn’t really think they were interested in me at all.”
Washington originally owned the 21st choice in the first round, but moved down one spot in a trade with the Houston Texans and picked up an extra 2017 sixth-round choice as part of the swap.
The Redskins’ selection of Doctson, listed at 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, gives last season’s NFC East champions a young wideout who has strong hands and a reputation for winning jump balls. And he plays the same position as Jackson and Garcon, who are both entering the final year of their contracts.
“He’s got the mad leaping skills,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, “which are very appealing, especially in the red zone, obviously.”
Gruden compared Doctson’s “great body control” — being able to “twist all kinds of directions” while going after a ball in the air — to that of Bengals receiver A.J. Green, drafted while Gruden was Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator.
Doctson’s senior season was cut short by a wrist injury, but he still was an AP All-American, with 79 catches for 1,337 yards and 14 touchdowns in only 11 games.
“I was full strength by the end of the (scouting) combine” in February, Doctson said. “There’s nothing wrong with my wrist.”
He is the first wide receiver drafted in the first round by the Redskins since Rod Gardner in 2001.
Cousins, who became Washington’s starting QB last season, tweeted his approval almost immediately after the news of Doctson’s pick, writing: “Gotta love getting better.”
Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall wrote on Twitter: “You can never have too many pass catchers. The more the merrier.”
There had been an expectation that the Redskins would use their first choice in this year’s draft to improve at a real spot of need: defensive line. As it is, Washington’s pass rush and run defense were both problems last season, and then the team lost Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton to free agency and Jason Hatcher to retirement.
Instead, general manager Scot McCloughan decided to go with a player on the offensive side of the ball in the first round for the second year in a row. He drafted Iowa lineman Brandon Scherff at No. 5 overall in 2015.
Gruden pointed to last week’s signing of free-agent cornerback Josh Norman, an All-Pro released by the Carolina Panthers, as a move that “addressed defense.”
The Redskins can look for more help on that side of the ball on Friday and Saturday, when they have a total of seven picks over the draft’s final six rounds.