The 2022-23 season has been a strange one for Washington, and not just because it’s their first one using the Commanders name. They started out 2-4, but then their big QB acquisition, Carson Wentz, broke his finger and was placed on IR. Taylor Heinicke took over as the starter for third season in a row, and has led the team to its current 7-5-1 record.
The middle of December usually means that I’ve already switched over from scouring the internet for NFL Power Rankings to looking into draft position and mock drafts. It’s pretty damn refreshing, but with 4 weeks left in the season, it’s time for a mock draft roundup just for old times’ sake.
Todd McShay dropped his first mock draft yesterday, and gave the Washington Commanders some 1st round help at cornerback. Georgia has been a defensive pipeline to the NFL, and that continues with Kelee Ringo. McShay sends him to Washington, sighting the departure of free agent bust William Jackson III, and the team’s low interception total (7) for the season. Washington will still have Benjamin St-Juste, Kendall Fuller, Bobby McCain, and some backups on the roster next year, but, if you believe McShay, in April they will add a tall, speedy rookie. Fuller has the 3rd-highest cap hit on the roster next year and could be a cut, restructure, or trade candidate.
Washington currently has 6 picks in the 2023 NFL draft, but they are expected to receive comp picks for departed free agents Brandon Scherff (3rd round) and Tim Settle (6th round) per Over the Cap. The Commanders are currently projected to have the 22nd pick in the first round, but that will change as the final 4 weeks and any postseason games play out. Every mock draft in this roundup shows Washington picking at #22, except for McShay’s. He uses ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), which projected the order based on simulations of the rest of the season (through Sunday’s Week 14 games), and has Washington at #21.
Washington Commanders Projected 2023 Draft Picks
1st Round: #22
2nd Round: #55
3rd Round: (#86 traded to Colts for QB Carson Wentz)
#98 (Projected compensatory pick)
4th Round: #125
6th Round: #199
#215 (Projected compensatory pick)
7th Round: #240
There are 12 mock drafts in this roundup, and they address several different positions for Washington. Defensive back was the pick in half of these mocks, and could be the way Ron Rivera goes in the first round next year. Washington looks to be set at safety for now with young DBs Kam Curl and Darrick Forrest, but the cornerback room could look very different in 2023.
The next most popular picks were QB and OL. Carson Wentz has no guaranteed money left on the final two years of his contract. He was just activated from injured reserve and will serve as Taylor Heinicke’s backup for now. If he doesn’t return to the field, Rivera can move on during the offseason, and wipe his ~$26.2 cap hit off the books. Sam Howell was drafted in the 5th round this year, and it doesn’t look like he’ll see the field during his rookie year. Would Washington go with a Heinicke-1st round rookie-Howell QB room in 2023?
The offensive line has been decimated by injuries and cap casualties this year. Washington has had multiple starters at center, right guard, and right tackle. Florida guard O’Cyrus Torrence goes to Washington in two mocks, and is pegged as a Brandon Scherff replacement who plays with big pop on every play.
The final two positions in this roundup are DT and LB. Daron Payne and Cole Holcomb are both free agents in March, and their replacements are drafted here. Washington presumably drafted a replacement for Payne this year in the 2nd round when they selected Phidarian Mathis; however, his season ended after just 4 plays when he suffered a torn meniscus. If Holcomb leaves in free agency, Washington gets one of the top LBs in this year’s draft from Clemson.
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Here come all the corners in a hurry! Washington moved on from the struggling William Jackson III at the trade deadline and now needs depth at cornerback. Ringo has the length at 6-foot-2 and man coverage skills to perfectly fit Jack Del Rio’s defense and help boost the Commanders’ takeaway count (seven interceptions this season, tied for 24th). He has great speed, and I’m expecting him to rise draft boards after he shows off those wheels at the combine.
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Commanders moved on from William Jackson III at the trade deadline and could stand to upgrade the position this offseason. Cam Smith is a first-round talent who can be a Day 1 contributor.
O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
After losing Brandon Scherff in free agency before 2022, this would be an ideal scenario for the Commanders. Torrence plays with massive pop on every play.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
For the first time in quite a while, the Burgundy and Gold have been flexed into primetime! A huge matchup with the division rival Giants looms on Sunday Night Football, and a win would propel the once-1-4 Commanders into strong playoff position. At 8-5-1, Washington would likely have to lose the remainder of its games to miss the playoffs. In essence, this game will likely push one team into the playoffs and leave the other clawing for the 7th and final playoff spot.
Washington was clearly the more talented team a week ago, and Rivera and Co. were rightfully very disappointed to not come away with the win. It turns out, however, that playoff seeding really comes down to who has the least losses rather than who has the most wins. The tie gives Washington a half-point, which is essentially the trump-card of all tiebreakers. Beating the Giants would give the team yet another tiebreaker (head-to-head), so, with a win, the Cinderella story of Taylor Heinicke will continue into the playoffs.
Considering that this is a draft website, it’s tough for me to decide whether I would rather have had the season continue to crater-leading to a high draft pick-or for the team to show the resiliency it has in its 6-1-1 streak.
This team still clearly needs a change at the most important position in all of sports, but unless Derek Carr becomes available this offseason, it might be ol’ number four back at the helm in 2023 while the young gun gets ready for the big leagues.
Anthony Richardson QB, Florida
The Commanders are proving to have a good team despite all of the off-the-field issues around the team. Offensively, they have a good receiving corps and Brian Robinson Jr. is pounding at the running back position. They simply need a difference-maker at QB. I appreciate what Taylor Heinicke has done to this point, but I think they should draft Anthony Richardson at QB—he has the upside to be flat-out dominant. Because Heinicke is there, Richardson doesn’t have to start immediately, but I do believe the Commanders are ready to support a young QB.
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
As long as Taylor Heinicke is under center, the Commanders aren’t going much further than a first-round playoff exit. But without a clear top QB to select, Washington drafts the next best thing: a corner of Joey Porter Jr.‘s caliber.
With elite length and fluid hips to flip and carry routes upfield, Porter has the tools to be a nuisance against opposing WRs.
Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson
With Taylor Heinicke under center this season, the Washington Commanders are 5-1-1 and have come back into the playoff race. Over the past two years, he’s now 12-9-1 as the starter for Washington and unless they make a move into the top five, their best bet will be to roll with him once again in 2023.
One player they might not have next year, however, is Daron Payne. The big defensive tackle is due for a new contract and it doesn’t seem likely he’s getting that in D.C. Payne was rumored to be available in a trade and if there’s truth to that, then they could end up looking for a more affordable replacement.
Enter Bryan Bresee from Clemson. A very gifted athlete, Bresee could excel with Washington where he would find himself surrounded by other talented defensive linemen.
Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
The Washington Commanders are surprisingly in playoff contention, but one position that will hold them back during their postseason run is cornerback. Benjamin St-Juste is playing well in his second year in the league, but he needs a partner in crime.
Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes brings a confident demeanor and unrivaled ball skills to the 2023 NFL Draft. Forbes has an SEC record six pick-6s and 14 total INTs to his name. The Commanders would instantly gain a starter on the outside by taking Forbes in this mock draft.
Brian Branch, CB, Alabama
The Redskins can’t cover anyone, thanks to William Jackson being a complete bust as a free agent signing. They desperately need someone new to stay with A.J. Brown and CeeDee Lamb.
Brian Branch has nice size and cover ability.
O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Which position should Washington draft in the 1st round?
This poll is closed