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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Mel Kiper Jr. goes defense for the Commanders after the start of free agency

The NFL has had some major changes since free agency started that will affect this year’s draft.

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The Washington Commanders offseason was always focused on upgrading the QB position from last year’s backup-turned-starter Taylor Heinicke. They finally found their quarterback when they traded for Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz. This was met with a pretty negative first reaction from Washington fans, and the NFL world. Washington had swung for the fences with a trade package including 3 first round picks for Russell Wilson, but were rejected. Now they must build around Wentz who is guaranteed to be here for...at least one year.

The focus of all the mock draft roundups I put together leading up to the Wentz trade was obviously on the QB position, and Washington’s options with the #11 overall pick in this year’s draft. There were usually at least 5 different QBs mocked to the Commanders on any given week. I looked everywhere for mock drafts that included QBs, and was only able to find two with two different QB options. Ron Rivera would have fooled a lot of people heading into the draft if he actually pulls the trigger on a QB in the 1st round next month.

There has been a big shift towards wide receiver and improving Washington’s secondary in this week’s roundup. We start off with Mel Kiper, Jr. and his pick of LSU CB Derek Stingley, Jr. who has been mocked pretty consistently to the Commanders even when the QB craze was in full swing. Kiper gives Washington another piece to their rebuilding secondary, but also mentions what others are thinking. A wide receiver to pair with Terry McLaurin and help Wentz is a very real option at #11 this year.

Stingley Jr. isn’t the only big name option being shipped to Ashburn this week. Notre Dame Kyle Hamilton continues to “fall” to #11 on a weekly basis and see his name connected with the Commanders. Another player that a lot of fans would be happy with here is CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardener, and he gets the call the most out of all the secondary options this week.

A much bigger portion of the mock draft community is betting that the Commanders will take a swing at the WR position to pair someone up with Terry McLaurin(and I guess Curtis Samuel) to give Wentz a better chance to succeed in recently extended OC Scott Turner’s offense. There is a lot of talent at WR, but there are still 4 different WRs being mocked to Washington. Alabama’s Jameson Williams makes his debut on this list, but is a risk this high after his ACL tear in the National Championship game in January.

We usually have an average of 2 offensive linemen getting mocked to the Washington Commanders, and that trend continues after the start of free agency. Washington lost Brandon Scherff to the Jacksonville Jaguars as expected. What wasn’t expected was the release of Ereck Flowers in a salary cap move to get his $10 million cap hit off the books. Guard was quickly addressed by signing Andrew Norwell, and they are expected to fill in the other spot with Wes Schweitzer if another guard isn’t signed or drafed.

Derek Stingley, Jr., CB, LSU

E$PN+(Kiper)

Circle April 6 on your calendar. That’s when scouts will get the chance to see Stingley on the field for the first time since he injured his foot in September. He had surgery on the Lisfranc injury and didn’t work out at the combine. It’s a crucial day for a corner once viewed as a potential No. 1 overall pick. As a true freshman in 2019, he was one of LSU’s best players on the way to its national title. Stingley has played in just 10 games over the past two seasons and has some inconsistent tape. I’m still betting on his upside, but he could drop if he doesn’t test well.

Washington had major injury issues at corner last season, and it could upgrade its unit with Stingley. I also thought about a receiver to partner with Terry McLaurin for new quarterback Carson Wentz.

DraftID(Sawyer)

Washington has an above average secondary right now, but Stingley brings exceptional value here and has the potential to develop into one of the best CBs in the NFL. Stingley, a true press corner, would pair exceptionally with Kendall Fuller, who has a very different skillset.

Game Day(Mosher)

With the Commanders trading for Carson Wentz, it’s likely eliminated them from picking a quarterback at No. 11. Instead, they go with one of the most talented players in the class in Derek Stingley.

He needs to prove that he can stay healthy, but Stingley has all the ability to be a lockdown cornerback in the NFL.

Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The Athletic

If it’s true Washington offered three first-round picks to Seattle for 33-year-old Russell Wilson, then landing 29-year-old Carson Wentz for two third-rounders looks like value. It also means the Commanders won’t be prodded into taking Kenny Pickett with the 11th pick. Brugler scores Gardner as a top-10 talent at 6-foot-3 with 4.41 speed.

Analysis: Kendall Fuller is coming off an impressive season, but after allowing the sixth-most yards per attempt and the fifth-highest opposing quarterback rating in 2021, the Commanders could install Gardner as a complement on the opposite side. It’s also tempting to draft a receiver such as Treylon Burks or Chris Olave. Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean could be the answer in the middle, but taking him here would be a reach when he’s slotted between 25 and 35. — Taylor

The Ringer(Kelly)

There’s no such thing as having too many good corners. Gardner joins William Jackson III and Kendall Fuller in the Commanders’ secondary, giving Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio plenty of options for how to deploy his playmakers.

Weekly Spiral(Durgin)

I think Washington is actually in a decent position to make the playoffs… if Carson Wentz learns how to take care of the football. That might be a tall order, but they have a solid team. However, they do need a playmaker in the secondary. Gardner is an alpha male who shut down every receiver he has faced the last two years. Building around him and Chase Young should be illegal.

DraftTek

Despite Commanders’ fans’ distate for Carson Wentz, he’s probably a better option than the parade of rookie QBs that we’ve shown here in prior mocks. Here the team picks shutdown CB “Sauce” Gardner here, though they could look to fill currrent and 2023 free agent losses on the OL and DL .

Draft Kings Nation

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

NFL.com(Jeremiah)

The Commanders stop the slide of one of the highest-rated players in the entire class. Don’t worry about the 4.59 40 time — the versatile safety plays fast in pads.

CBS Sports(Edwards)

Landon Collins is gone from the nation’s capital and that leaves Washington in a position to capitalize on arguably the draft’s top talent slipping to No. 11 overall. When you look at the contracts being handed out in free agency, most positions are ridiculous. Safety is not and that might be an indication of the league’s outlook on the position. The selection of Hamilton would mean that Washington has used six of its last seven first round choices on defense.

Walter Football

I had the Redskins selecting Kenny Pickett here in a previous update, but that is no longer the case in the wake of the Carson Wentz trade. Go here for my NFL Trade Grades.

The Redskins have a big problem in the secondary, so I imagine they’ll look into drafting one of the top defensive backs available. This particular one may have to move to linebacker.

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 Eagles need help at both positions.

Round 2: Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan

The Redskins will need to give Carson Wentz a receiver to throw to besides Terry McLaurin.

Skyy Moore is a speedy receiver with great run-after-catch ability. He thrived at the combine.

Walter Football(Campbell)

The Commies cut Landon Collins and could use a safety upgrade. Landing Hamilton outside of the top 10 is a solid value for Washington.

The 6-foot-4, 216-pound Hamilton is a dynamic playmaker and difference maker. He has phenomenal size, speed, and ball skills. Hamilton’s size and speed make him a highly impactful run defender who flies downhill and is capable of being the eighth man in the box.

Some pro sources think Hamilton should move to linebacker in the NFL because Hamilton is straight line and does not have safety instincts. They feel because he misses some tackles in space and isn’t great in man-to-man coverage, and that could be covered at linebacker. He is also taller than teams want in safeties.

Hamilton recorded 31 tackles, three interceptions and three passes defended in 2021. He missed the last five games of the year due to a knee injury suffered while tackling USC’s Drake London. Hamilton totaled 56 tackles, an interception and six passes broken up in 2020. He put together an excellent freshman season for Notre Dame, showing good ball skills with four interceptions and six passes broken up to go along with 41 tackles.

Round 2: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Washington’s pass coverage in 2021 lived up to “the Commodes” nick name that some Redskins alumni have been calling the team privately. The organization could use multiple cornerback upgrades.

In 2021, Elam recorded 29 tackles, five passes broken up and an interception. He played well in 2020, recording 39 tackles, two interceptions and 11 passes broken up. The 6-foot-1, 187-pounder was fantastic as a freshman, flashing serious ball skills even though he had a part-time role. Elam has good height and length with quickness. He could stand to fill out his frame, but considering he was only a true junior, he has the time to do it. With his skill set and upside, Elam could explode.

Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

CBS Sports(Wilson)

We know what Ron Rivera said but trading for Carson Wentz was underwhelming. But what’s done is done and now the team has to build around him. Terry McLaurin is one of the best young players 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.

Round 2: Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State

NFL Draft Bible(Borowsky)

Adding Carson Wentz to the fold at quarterback could allow the Commanders to look elsewhere here. Terry McLaurin needs a running mate and Wilson is the most complete wideout in the draft. Wilson would be the missing piece for an underrated offense.

NFL Mocks(Haas)

The Commanders made a big move by trading for QB Carson Wentz a couple weeks ago, leaving the franchise in an interesting spot with their first-round selection. Could they go with a QB to groom under Wentz, following the same logic as the Lions and Steelers before them? Or are they going to add talent around Wentz and make a run at the division in 2022? The fact that Washington moved multiple day two picks for Wentz leads me to believe that the latter is far more likely, and that’s the direction in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

The team lost the leader of their offensive line when Brandon Scherff signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I heavily considered taking a lineman here, but instead let’s add a weapon to the roster. Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel are both fellow Buckeyes, making it an easy transition for Garett Wilson. A healthy Antonio Gibson and Logan Thomas gives Carson Wentz the best supporting cast of weapons that he’s had in his entire career.

Round 2: Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

DraftWire(Easterling)

Drake London, WR, USC

Pro Football Focus(Sikkema)

Washington got the quarterback they hope can lead them to a playoff spot in Carson Wentz (I know, I know…), but the only way they can do that is if they get him more passing weapons. Grabbing the 6-foot-4, contested-catch monster London to help Wentz and upgrade the rest of that receiver room would be.

CBS Sports(Prisco)

They traded to get Carson Wentz, so why not get him another young weapon? London is a big receiver who will help liven up the passing game.

USA Today(Davis)

They nominally addressed their quarterback dilemma with the acquisition of Carson Wentz – and must be kicking themselves for not holding out for a player like Ryan to come free. But what better way to assist Wentz and supplement WR1 Terry McLaurin than with a 6-4, 219-pound Mike Evans type? London had seven TD grabs in eight games last season, which ended early due to a broken ankle that also kept him from competing at the combine.

Sharp Football Analysis(Donahue)

Just like Carolina, I don’t think we can completely rule out quarterback here just because the Commanders added Carson Wentz. But if the team is truly in win-now mode like they say, then they need to give Wentz all the weapons they can.

Tankathon

Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

CBS Sports(Stackpole)

Washington should aim to help Carson Wentz as much as possible, and getting him a potential No. 1 receiver is one way to do that. Pairing Olave with fellow former Buckeye Terry McLaurin would be scary for opposing defenses.

CBS Sports(Trapasso)

The Commanders have to prioritize weapons for Carson Wentz, and Olave has a high floor. Ohio State East in the nation’s capitol at receiver.

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

NFL SpinZone(Gurzi)

Alabama wideout Jameson Williams left Ohio State University to look for more snaps with the Crimson Tide and it worked perfectly for him. Not only did he have a huge season in 2021 but he had a shot at surpassing both Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave in the draft despite being behind them with the Buckeyes.

However, a torn ACL suffered in the NCAA Championship Game hurt his stock as Williams enters the NFL coming off a serious injury. He should be healthy though during his rookie season and while he’s passed by Garrett Wilson in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, he still goes early as the Washington Commanders bring him in at No. 11.

Washington has been linked to quarterbacks prior but after landing Carson Wentz, they go with a wideout to pair with Terry McLaurin.

Round 3: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

The Colts need to keep looking for quarterbacks after giving up on Carson Wentz and they bring in Carson Strong from Nevada to compete.

The Draft Network(Parson)

When healthy, Jameson Williams is known by most as WR1 in this class. The Commanders traded for Carson Wentz and the best way to ensure he plays to their desired level is to add more talent offensively. Williams will create arguably the most explosive duo in football with Terry McLaurin. He can rehab at his own pace in Washington without the pressure of playing immediately. Wentz would have two three-level receivers to keep defensive coordinators up at night.

Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Sporting News(Iyer)

The Commanders are reshuffling the line at guard with Andrew Norwell replacing Brandon Scherff and Ereck Flowers being released. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr is coming off a strong season and Sam Cosmi is a good candidate to be either a strong swing backup or prepare to take over for Flowers. Penning, with natural strength and power for right tackle, also wowed with athleticism at the Combine and would be the best player available to boost new QB Carson Wentz.

Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

Touchdown Wire(Schofield)

The Washington Commanders, even in the wake of the trade for Carson Wentz, could consider a quarterback at this spot. But given the…well let’s just say history of Wentz playing in the wake of his team drafting a quarterback early, we might want to take that out of the equation.

Receiver could be an option for the Commanders as well, but they also have a Brandon Scherff-sized hole along their offensive line. Oh, and an Ereck Flowers-sized hole as well. They need guards, and unless the Jackson Brothers are leaving the Washington Sentinels for the Washington Commanders, the Commanders have to start somewhere.

One way to fix that? Add a top talent on the interior early in the draft. Zion Johnson is the game gaining steam at the position, but Kenyon Green’s film illustrate just how well his game will translate to the next level. He becomes a plug-and-play option for the Commanders on Day One.

Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Pro Football Network(Mellor)

Another quarterback may not be what you expected, but as I mentioned, the selection of Willis at No. 2 pushes the price on the rest of the quarterback class. Matt Corral comes in after an injury sustained at the turn of the year sidelined him from all offseason workouts. Still, his arm platforms are next level, as is his athleticism. Corral has Carson Wentz to help him get acclimated as Wentz ultimately becomes the bridge quarterback — an expensive one albeit — for the Washington Commanders.

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Pro Football Network(Broback)

Now that the drama subsided surrounding Kenny Pickett‘s hand size, we can get back to the idea that he’s going to be taken in the first round. Even though the Commanders traded for Carson Wentz, they need a quarterback. At best, it’s tough to see Wentz leading Washington far. However, it also feels like his floor isn’t super low. So waiting to take a quarterback next year seems unlikely, and they must pounce in 2022.

Poll

Who would you draft at #11 for the Commanders?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Derek Stingley, Jr., CB, LSU
    (87 votes)
  • 20%
    Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
    (212 votes)
  • 26%
    Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
    (271 votes)
  • 13%
    Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
    (134 votes)
  • 8%
    Drake London, WR, USC
    (89 votes)
  • 5%
    Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
    (53 votes)
  • 1%
    Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
    (19 votes)
  • 3%
    Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
    (37 votes)
  • 2%
    Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
    (30 votes)
  • 5%
    Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
    (57 votes)
1010 votes total Vote Now