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2022 Pre-NFL Combine Mock Draft Roundup: Mel Kiper Jr gives Washington a new QB

Mock drafts before this year’s NFL Combine kicks off

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NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Pittsburgh vs Wake Forest Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is over, and the offseason, I mean draft season is here. NFL Combine week starts today. Free Agency begins on March 16th and the draft will finally happen in Las Vegas April 27-30. Washington needs a QB, and Ron Rivera has made it pretty clear they will be adding a veteran QB, and maybe a another one in the draft. Taylor Heinicke sounds like his spot on the roster is safe, but definitely not the starting spot he got after Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Week 1 injury.

Mel Kiper Jr. came out with his latest mock draft this morning as the football world gears up for the NFL Scouting Combine. Ron Rivera is speaking today, and GM Martin Mayhew will answer questions tomorrow. Kiper gives Washington one of the top QBs in this year’s draft at #11. Kenny Pickett is likely to go higher than #11 in the draft, and we get one mock that actually has the Commanders trading up 5 spots to secure the top guy on their QB draft wish list. Pickett will be under a lot of scrutiny this week, and will finally get an official measurement from his double-jointed thumbs to his pinky fingers.

The Combine shifts a lot of draft boards every year as draft prospects show off their athleticism, the size and their speed. Some of the QBs in this year’s draft are great athletes, but have big question marks about their overall game. This year’s class also has several QBs that are shorter than the “standard” NFL height, so their measurements will get broadcast loudly.

This week’s list has all the familiar names at QB going to the Commanders except for Matt Corral. Desmond Ridder also makes an appearance at #11 for Washington which would be considered a major reach at this point. There is also a trade up for QB Malik Willis who could see the momentum he got from the Senior Bowl continue with a good showing at the Combine. There are no veteran QB trades after they headlined last week’s roundup.

We are down to one offensive lineman for Washington in this week’s roundup, and that still seems like too many this year. There are 4 defensive players in this week’s roundup, 3 in the secondary, and another 1st round linebacker. Kyle Hamilton stills seems like a long shot here. A pair of wide receivers also showed up with the assumption that Washington gets a new QB through free agency and wants to give him a new weapon.

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

E$PN+(Kiper)

Washington’s defense took a step back in 2021, but it has a lot of talent invested on that side of the ball. That’s why I see the Commanders as the team most likely to target a quarterback in Round 1. Taylor Heinicke hasn’t shown that he can be a consistent, NFL-level starter; Pickett could be an upgrade.

This is still a little high for a quarterback based on my Big Board — I have Pickett and Malik Willis at Nos. 19 and 20, respectively — but the 24-year-old Pickett is ready to play in the NFL right now. I don’t think he’ll have to have the developmental time that Willis will need. Ron Rivera’s team could compete in the NFC East with competent quarterback play and Pickett could give them a chance. He’s going to be under the microscope at the combine, as we still don’t have an official hand size for him. He’s expected to have below 9-inch hands, which has been one of the benchmarks for quarterbacks. I’m curious to hear how he does in interviews with teams as well.

Prime Time Sports Talk(Thompson)

Washington Commanders send picks 11 and 42 to the Carolina Panthers for picks 6 and 144

Carolina is a lot further from being ready than many expect them to be. On paper, the Panthers had a good roster to start the 2021 season, but the Sam Darnold trade faltered. With only one selection in the top 100 picks, trading down has to be in the cards for Matt Rhule and company in the first round. Thankfully, Ron Rivera calls his old team and gives them a second-round selection in return for a fifth-rounder to move up five spots.

Washington desperately needs a quarterback. While they might not be the same team they were in the 2020 season that led them to the playoffs, Washington still is primed and ready for a dangerous playoff run. Whether that be from trading for a proven quarterback or drafting one is yet to be seen. In this scenario, the Commanders go get Pickett. The presumed top quarterback in the class didn’t pull away from the rest of the competition in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, but he fits exactly what Washington has looked for at the quarterback position.

Pro Football Network(Broback)

Again, teams still need quarterbacks, and Washington is one of them. Opinions on Kenny Pickett vary from the first to the second round, so it’s anyone’s guess where he’ll be selected. His success with Pitt this past season gives teams a lot to like, but the latest drama surrounds his hand size. Washington might not care based on what they see on film.

The Draft Network(Harris)

The Commanders rode with Taylor Heinicke for the duration of the year following Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury. However, they realize he may not be the player to take their team to the next level. They’ve been linked to some of the top free agent QBs, but they ultimately decide to draft one knowing there are positive roster ramifications from drafting a QB as opposed to taking on a high-priced free agent.

Kenny Pickett had a great senior season, and is cerebral and talented enough to take the helm and lead this talented roster.

WalterFootball(Campbell)

The Commies need their quarterback of the future. If they don’t find a solution to the quarterback issue, Ron Rivera and the front office won’t last a lot longer.

Pickett caught fire in 2021, ripping up opponents on a weekly basis and boosting his draft grade. He is a dangerous rhythm passer in the short to intermediate part of the field while also displaying superb deep-ball accuracy. When plays break down, Pickett has mobility and is a willing, tough runner. Pickett shows excellent accuracy, developed field vision, an ability to work through progressions, can buy time with his feet, and is able to throw vertically with a soft deep ball that is easy to catch. He has definite NFL arm talent. While he generally demonstrates good decision making, there are 2-3 passes per game where he makes poor choices, looking like a risky gunslinger. That issue could likely be worked out of him by a pro staff.

In 2021, Pickett took the Panthers to new heights with their first ACC Championship, and he surpassed Dan Marino as the program’s all-time leader in touchdown passes. Pickett completed 67 percent of his passes in 2021 for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He notched five rushing touchdowns as well.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has quality size for the NFL and is known to have good character. One negative is Pickett is said to have small hands, which is why he wears gloves, including on his throwing right hand. After seeing some action in 2017, Pickett was the Panthers’ starter from 2018-2020, so he will enter the next level with a lot of starting experience, but he will also be a 24-year-old rookie.

Round 2: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

Washington’s pass coverage in 2021 lived up to “the Commodes” nick name that some Redskins alumni have texted me. Clearly, the team needs more help at cornerback.

McCreary notched 49 tackles, 14 passes defended and two interceptions in 2021. He was excellent in 2020, recording three interceptions, six passes defended, one forced fumble and 45 tackles. In 2019, he collected 36 tackles, an interception and 11 passes broken up. While McCreary isn’t the biggest of corners, the 5-foot-11, 187-pounder has excellent coverage skills to run the route and prevent separation. Some sources think he could have a hard time holding up on the outside in the NFL and will have to be a nickel.

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Pro Football Network(Hodgkinson)

Considered a player in the NFL Draft quarterback market last spring, the Washington Commanders opted instead to ride it out with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke. It seems unlikely that either will be the starter under center this season, making Washington a key cog in the quarterback carousel over the next two months.

While Sam Howell‘s 2021 college football campaign might not have lived up to preseason expectations, he still possesses many of the top-level traits that you look for in an NFL quarterback. An accurate deep-ball passer, Howell routinely throws his receivers open with anticipation throws. Furthermore, he’s showcased a competitive toughness as a dual-threat this season.

Round 2: Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor

Round 3: Ed Ingram, OG, LSU

Round 4: Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

DraftWire(Easterling)

This year’s quarterback class is an odd one, and while Willis might not be the most polished and pro-ready of the bunch, his elite arm talent and playmaking ability give him the most potential. That’s exactly what Washington needs at the game’s most important position.

Fan Nation(Patraw)

As a passer, Willis has incredible arm talent. He shows the ability to throw off-platform and on the run, adjusting arm angle if needed. He shows good arm strength all over the field. - Scouting Report Blurb on QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Reason For Selection

Arm Talent

Mobility

Find a franchise quarterback in Washington

Solid frame

Sporting News(Iyer)

Ron Rivera succeeded when he attached himself to another former Auburn quarterback, Cam Newton, more than a decade ago with the Panthers. Willis is another big-armed and athletic passer in a more compact but Russell Wilson-like well-built package. Willis stood out as the best QB at the Senior Bowl, showing his small-school transfer only raised his massive game. He will fit well in Scott Turner’s offense.

Draft Countdown(Bosarge)

***TRADE ALERT***

Washington moves up five spots to secure their QB of the future. Carolina gets a few extra picks back that have lost from various trades. The Commanders are pressing the reset button on everything but ownership and they shoot for the moon with this trade. Trade compensation: WSH (pick 6 overall) CAR (pick 11 overall, 2022 2nd, 2023 2nd)

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Baltimore Sun(Doon)

After trading for Alex Smith, using a first-round pick on Dwayne Haskins and trotting out journeymen like Taylor Heinicke and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Commanders need to try and develop a real franchise quarterback. The 6-4, 215-pound Ridder is the most pro-ready of this year’s class with his quick processing, pocket movement and impressive speed in the open field. He has the potential to be a difference-maker for a franchise in need of a spark.

Drake London, WR, USC

Pro Football Focus(Palazzolo)

Assuming quarterback gets resolved prior to the draft or in later rounds, the Commanders add London as a big-bodied complement to Terry McLaurin. London is more than just a 6-foot-5 catch-point winner, as he moves well and adds value to all levels of the field.

Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

CBS Sports(Wilson)

We’ll see if Washington makes any moves in free agency to address the QB position because, ultimately, that will inform who they’ll target in the draft. This week, we have them beefing up the wide receiver corps; Terry McLaurin is one of the best young player in the league but he’s also in the final year of his rookie deal. And while Curtis Samuel is entering Year 2, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire in ‘21. Wilson, meanwhile, is one of the the most dynamic players in college football and his game in many ways reminds us of Odell Beckham Jr.

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

CBS Sports(Edwards)

Washington is said to be aggressively pursuing help at the quarterback position. In the event that those options do not work out, the Commanders stay put and select Hamilton, who is arguably the best player in the draft. The counterargument is that the franchise has invested a lot into the defense and, without a quarterback, it is easy to see how it could all unravel.

Walter Football

The Redskins were expected to sport one of the top defenses in the NFL in 2021, but that never happened because the secondary was a mess. Their linebacking corps was a total disaster as well.

The very physically gifted Kyle Hamilton showed lots of promise in his freshman year. However, teams question if he’ll play safety or linebacker in the NFL. As it so happens, the Redskins need help at both positions.

Round 2: Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State

The Redskins could address their offensive line to help their next franchise quarterback.

Abraham Lucas has tremendous length and athleticism.

Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

Pro Football Network(Mellor)

This is a surprise now, sure, but it won’t be after the Combine, as Daxton Hill is expected to light up the board. He’s a downhill thumper in the run game and even better at closing space in coverage. Hill heads to Washington to bolster the secondary in both run and pass defense.

Derek Stingley, Jr., CB, LSU

NFL.com(Brooks)

Stingley is a five-star talent with All-Pro potential. He did not finish his collegiate career with a bang, but his impressive freshman season could prompt Ron Rivera to roll the dice on his upside.

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

CBS Sports(Fornelli)

The Commanders could go for a QB here, but with Pickett and Willis off the board, is the best available QB now that much better than the best available with their next pick? I say no, so you might as well take a player who could prove to be the best player on your defense for the next 10 years.

Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

NFL SpinZone(Gurzi)

Here’s a spot where the first quarterback could come off the board but the Washington Commanders still might not take a swing at any signal-callers in the draft. They have been linked to some veteran options including Carson Wentz and that might be a better move for them.

With that being a possibility, they instead go after Kenyon Green from Texas A&M. He played both guard and tackle for the Aggies and did each very well. However, the Commanders could lose Brandon Scherff in free agency and if they do, they need someone who can fill his shoes. Enter Green, who is a day one starter in the NFL.

Poll

Who should Washington draft at #11?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
    (219 votes)
  • 7%
    Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
    (48 votes)
  • 19%
    Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
    (121 votes)
  • 4%
    Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
    (27 votes)
  • 2%
    Drake London, WR, USC
    (16 votes)
  • 2%
    Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
    (15 votes)
  • 13%
    Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
    (87 votes)
  • 0%
    Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    Derek Stingley, Jr., CB, LSU
    (13 votes)
  • 11%
    Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
    (70 votes)
  • 2%
    Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
    (13 votes)
632 votes total Vote Now