Every year since Mike Shanahan staked his reputation on the QB lineup of John Beck and Rex Grossman, I have made the habit of compiling my own wish list for the Redskins’/WFT and now Commanders’ drafts. Over the years, a lot of the prospects on my list, like A.J. Brown, Chase Claypool and Rhamondre Stevenson, have become good NFL players, but almost none of them have been drafted by Washington.
In fact, the only two guys from my lists that I can recall ever making a Redskins’ roster are Jon Allen (included as a “just in case he falls” option) and Dwayne Haskins. So you might wonder, what’s the point?
Well, a few weeks ago I published an article on Hogs Haven in which I showed that Mel Kiper has a better track record of predicting draft outcomes than leading draft experts Lance Zierlein and the analytics-based PFF. Mel has never struck me as being in their league, but the numbers told a different story. That got me thinking.
This is what former Colts’ GM Bill Tobin had to say about Kiper:
Who the hell is Mel Kiper anyway? Here’s a guy that criticizes everybody, whoever they take. And my knowledge of him: he’s never ever put on a jock strap, he’s never been a coach, he’s never been a scout, he’s never been a scout, he’s never been an administrator and all of a sudden he’s an expert.
Hmm. Let’s see how I stack up to the king of NFL draft analysis:
- Who the hell is MattInBrisVegas? No one knows. Check.
- Criticizes everybody, whoever they take. Check.
- Never put on a jock strap. Check.
- Never been a scout. Check.
- Never been a coach. Check.
- Never been an administrator. Check.
I seem to have what it takes to be a leading draft expert. Let’s give this a go.
Now, I’m not like Hogs Haven’s draft profile writers who do their own tape breakdowns and understand the finer points of pad levels, walking the typewriter, release points and attack angles. I just scour the interwebs, including Hogs Havens’ draft profiles, looking for guys that fit my prototype.
What is that? Well, it’s pretty much what John Madden loved about players like Gary Clark, Dave Butz and Ronnie Lott. I like players who distinguish themselves through their competitive toughness or exceptional athleticism for their size, who play with a nasty streak and fight through the whistle. I am not a fan of finesse, or “lacks physicality”. My favorite weakness in draft profiles is “tends to play overly aggressive at times”.
I have also never understood the concept of drafting players with a ceiling of backup/special teams. I tend to look for players that someone has tipped to exceed their draft status. In the later rounds, these tend to be players that have the right attributes, but there is something potentially correctable that’s caused them to drop, or who lack prototypical size for the position but have demonstrated they can play.
Last of all, I am a proponent of drafting the best player available to continually improve the overall talent level of the roster, rather than trying to address immediate needs. Those are better dealt with in free agency and roster cutdowns.
Now, without further ado, here is my Little Board for the Commanders’ 2022 Draft.
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss, 6’2”, 205 lbs
I recently proposed a simple formula to draft Washington’s first franchise QB since Mark Rypien: when we don’t have a long-term solution at QB, and we’re picking in the top 15, draft the best QB available unless he’s a full-round reach. I validated the theory by showing that this simple rule set would have netted Washington Drew Brees, Aaaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Lamar Jackson in 20 years. We would have added Justin Herbert, too, if we were picking exclusively from Mel Kiper’s draft board.
If Matt Corrall is available at pick #11, he is the best player available by virtue of being the best QB available, such is the outsized importance of the QB position. Corral has the arm, smarts and mobility to play in the NFL. One knock on him is his size. He is about the same weight and only one inch taller than future HOF QB, Drew Brees. What elevates Corral is his character. Corral is a natural leader who wins the respect of the locker room and inspires his teammates. He has also demonstrated a commitment to his craft by working with Lane Kiffin in the 2021 offseason to reduce his turnovers, resulting a drop from 14 INT/326 attempts (4.3%) in 2020 to 5 INT/386 (1.3%) in 2021.
He will be the next great dual threat QB in the NFL for whatever team drafts him, no matter what the Commanders’ current starter thinks of the selection. I just hope he’s not knocking us out of the playoffs in Seattle.
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas, 6’3”, 225 lbs
Burks is the big, nasty X receiver the Commanders need to pair with Terry McLaurin. He has the muscle to overpower defensive backs and tremendous run after the catch ability. He is the one WR in this draft I would be willing to break the first draft commandment for by taking him in the first round. The Commanders can do a bunch of Hail Mary’s as penance.
Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah, 6’3”, 235 lbs
The Commanders need to modernize their linebacking corps, and Lloyd is just the guy to do it with his sideline-to-sideline speed and coverage ability. He is also incredibly physical and aggressive against the run and brings added value as a pass rusher. I don’t care what people say about drafting LBs in the first round. It would be a shame to see Lloyd go to Baltimore at #14.
Ickey Ekonwu, OT, NC State, 6’4”, 320 lbs
Ickey is one of the elite prospects on most boards, but he could fall to 11 because teams may be unsure which position he plays on the OL. He is a high character prospect and monster run blocker, but still needs to develop in pass protection. If John Matsko can’t make him work at tackle, he might have to move inside to guard, in which case we have our replacement for Brandon Scherff. Having Leno in place gives the Commanders the luxury to develop a potential franchise LT for the future.
Daxton Hill, S, Michigan, 6’0”, 191 lbs
A fast, athletic FS with the versatility to play slot corner or dime back, and is also a special teams contributor. He would be the perfect complement to Kam Curl, if it doesn’t violate a law of physics for Washington to have two quality starting safeties at one time.
George Pickens, WR, Georgia, 6’3”, 200 lbs
Pickens has great speed and athleticism for a big WR, and a penchant for bullying defensive backs, making him a perfect X receiver to line up across from Terry McLaurin.
Sam Howell, QB, UNC, 6’1”, 220 lbs
There is a train of thought that we don’t want to upset our starting QB’s feelings by drafting a rookie. However, we do still need to look after the team’s future at the most important position and our starter spends a fair amount of time on injured reserve. If Howell falls to our second-round pick the value is too good to pass up.
Kenneth Walker, RB, Michigan State, 5’9”, 211 lbs
No, I’m not kidding. This pick would allow Scott Turner to maximize Antonio Gibson’s potential by moving him to a flex weapon role. Walker is a one cut downhill, angry runner who punishes defenders. Don’t worry, there is absolutely no chance the Commanders select Walker here. Or is there? They did have him in for a top-30 visit.
Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan, 5’10”, 195 lbs
Moore is exactly the type of receiver who we regularly see come off the board in the second and third rounds and outperform many of the wideouts picked in the first. He doesn’t have any elite attributes. He’s just good at playing receiver. He has great short area quickness, ball skills to make impressive catches and was highly productive in college.
Matt “Punt God” Araiza, P, San Diego State, 6’2”, 200 lbs
Never draft a punter before the fifth round, unless he has potential to be the greatest punter of all time. Azaria hit 18 punts of 60+ yards in 2021, including two over 80 yards. There have only been two 80+ yard punts in the NFL in the last eight years. He averaged 50 yards in 2021. He also hit 62 of 73 kickoffs for touchbacks, can place kick and is an excellent tackler. Tress Way may be the Commanders’ reigning MVP, but he can’t last forever.
Washington is currently without a third-round pick, but we could pick one up by trading back with a team targeting a QB or a sliding elite prospect like Kyle Hamilton or Sauce Gardner.
Quay Walker, LB, Georgia, 6’3”, 241 lbs
Rangy, athletic linebacker with the versatility to play multiple roles in the Commanders’ linebacking corps. He’s probably a best fit at WILL, but has the athletic profile to fill the role vacated by Landon Collins or Buffalo Nickel. Fits the modern LB prototype in increasingly positionless backfield alignments. I could be convinced that Walker is a better use of draft capital than Devin Lloyd if we can pick him up this far down the draft order.
Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky, 5’8”, 178 lbs
Wan’Dale might look like a small slot receiver, but he functions more like a mini Deebo Samuel. Has the position versatility to line up from multiple positions as a receiver and act as a dump-and-run target to extend the running game.
Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa, 6’5”, 324
Smith is a violent, powerful lineman, oozing with upside and desperately in need of coaching to get his raw, undisciplined play under control. John Matsko might be able to turn him into a starting left tackle, but if not he could make a tremendous guard.
Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama, 6’3”, 313 lbs
A defensive tackle with the ability to disrupt the backfield and rush the passer is exceptional value in the third round. Mathis had nine sacks in the SEC last season. The only reason I can see he gets rated this low is that he lacks elite athletic traits. The Commanders could use more DL depth, and Mathis has the potential to eventually replace a more expensive starter.
David Bell, WR, Purdue, 6’1”, 212 lbs
Bell was being projected to the second round until he ran a 4.65 40 at the combine. He is an excellent route runner, with great hands to make highlight reel catches. If the poor combine showing drops him this far, he could be an exceptional value. Or he could turn out to be the next AGG/Kelvin Harmon.
Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State, 6’0”, 196 lbs
Another WR with good potential to outperform his draft status. Most importantly, he comes from a military family. Commander Shakir.
Marcus Jones, CB/KR, 5’8”, 174 lbs
Jones is an undersized, playmaking slot corner, and is an electric return specialist, with nine career return TDs. He also had 10 receptions for 109 yards in 2021. He could be the replacement for DeAndre Carter and Jimmy Moreland.
Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina, 6’4”, 240 lbs
The Commanders’ TE depth chart has space for a developmental prospect with potential to become a mismatch weapon as an “F” tight end. Likely can stretch the field and has a knack for 50+ yard receptions.
Nick Cross, S, Maryland, 6’1”, 210 lbs
Ideal size and elite speed for the safety position. Could be a good option if S isn’t addressed earlier. One day the Commanders will draft a player from Maryland. I just know it.
Tyler Allegier, RB, BYU, 5’10”, 224 lbs
Tough patient runner with good vision and contact balance. A great value option to pair with Gibson and take over short-yardage duties.
The Martys traded our fifth-round pick for a long snapper. But we could get one back in a trade.
Hassan Haskins, RB, Michigan, 6’1”, 220 lbs
For fans of old school Redskins football, Haskins is a physical, grinding back who wears down opposing defenses. His rankings are all over the shop on different boards. I think he’s good value in the fifth round. If he’s still available later we have to take him.
Thomas Booker, DT, Stanford, 6’3”, 301 lbs
Thanks to dg28 for spotting this speedy, athletic and cerebral developmental prospect to help fill the void in the DL depth pipeline created by the departures of Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis. A little time in an NFL strength and conditioning program might turn him into more than a rotational piece, but that would do.
Cade Mays, IOL, Tennessee, 6’6”, 321 lbs
Mays is a big, strong interior offensive lineman who plays with a nasty demeanor. The Commanders could use a few more War Daddies like Mays to shore up the OL depth.
Lecitus Smith, G, Virginia Tech, 6’3”, 320 lbs
Big powerful blocker who plays with aggression and has better athleticism than expected for his size. Also has his own cooking channel. Another day-three War Daddy option.
Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers, 5’11”, 191 lbs
Melton has the initial burst and quickness and run after the catch ability to be an effective depth slot receiver. He will make the team as a return specialist. Another option to replace DeAndre Carter.
Smoke Monday, S, Auburn, 6’3”, 199 lbs
Would I pick a player in the 6th round just for his name? Yes I would. Might have some value on special teams.
Amari Carter, S/Dime Back, Miami, 6’2”, 200 lbs
Carter is a violent, physical attacking defender who seeks to punish ball carriers. The main knock on him is that he tends to be over aggressive and draws too many unnecessary roughness penalties. He is a willing special teams contributor, which is how he will earn a roster spot. I’d like to see him on the field whenever we play Philadelphia.
Tanner Conner, WR, Idaho State, 6’3”, 235 lbs
Conner could be a big ass WR or a developmental F-tight end. He has a track background and is very fast for such a big man. He is also tough as nails and an excellent blocker. Worth developing as a receiver while he earns his keep on special teams.
Tariq Carpenter, S(Dime, S/LB hybrid), Georgia Tech, 6’2”, 227 lbs
Big, versatile back-end defender with the positional flexibility to play everything from safety to linebacker and even a bit of corner. Good developmental prospect who should be great on special teams.
Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB Alabama, 6’1”, 192 lbs
Armour-Davis has the size and athletic profile to be a starting boundary CB, but is only a one-year starter due to an extensive injury history. He is well worth the risk in the seventh round.
What is Washington’s biggest need entering the draft?
This poll is closed
A franchise QB
A big ass receiver to line up across from Terry McLaurin
An angry runner to spell Gibson and wear down defenses
More war daddies to man the trenches
A linebacker who can cover running backs and tight ends
A rangy free safety
A big lockdown corner. You can never have too many.
Need? Draft? I don’t get it.