Washington Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera and General Manager Martin Mayhew sat down with reporters for their annual pre-draft presser today and discussed a wide range of draft topics, but also talked about young players who are improving and some injured players who are recovering. Washington currently holds the 11th overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, and also has 5 other picks spread out over Days 2&3. Washington is missing their 3rd round pick due to the Carson Wentz trade, and their 5th round pick from a trade with the Eagles last year that gave them an extra 6th(LS Cameron Cheeseman) and 7th(DE William Bradley-King). They also have a 7th round pick that was thrown in by the Colts.
Martin Mayhew talked about draft trades, and said their has been talks with other teams about moving up and down the draft board. He doesn’t expect Washington to finish the draft with only 6 draft picks, and they are expected to try to pick up more picks in the “middle of the draft” which Mayhew says starts early this year. Rivera did say that if there is a guy that they love(“have conviction on”) they will draft him at 11.
Washington’s draft board was set last Friday and they have several players with a 1st round grade. Rivera continues to emphasize that Carson Wentz is their QB his acquisition changed their plans in free agency and the draft. They would like to add a 3rd QB, but it will be later in the draft or after the draft concludes. Another point of emphasis for Rivera is both protecting their new franchise QB and also adding dynamic playmakers around him to give him every opportunity to succeed in Washington.
The plan continues to be signing Terry McLaurin to a long-term deal. He will reportedly not participate in on-field team activities that will start after the draft next month until he gets a new deal. Mayhew said they have had discussions with his team, but Rivera said whether his contract status won’t have any affect on who they draft this weekend.
Chase Young and Curtis Samuel are both recovering from season-ending injuries. Both players are doing good in their rehab. Young is attacking his recovery from a torn ACL and working with new Head Athletic Trainer Al Bellamy. Curtis Samuel has looked good during team workouts, and Rivera is confident when he sees him moving around.
Draft week press conference: HC Ron Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew speak with the media https://t.co/gCMNU1bDOz— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) April 25, 2022
11th overall pick:
Here for Ron Rivera and Martin Mathew’s pre-draft presser. On picking at 11: “It’s almost unpredictable.” pic.twitter.com/eUzam4Hn9H— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) April 25, 2022
Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew echo other views that the top of this draft is rather unpredictable. Standard mention of pondering various scenarios included.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) April 25, 2022
Middle of the draft:
Ron Rivera: "It's not one of those drafts where you sit there as say, 'These are got-to-have-its.'"— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) April 25, 2022
Martin Mayhew: "There's a really good middle to this draft, but the middle starts pretty quickly."
Martin Mayhew says he's talked to other GMs around the league and "there's some iinterest there both ways" with teams looking to move up/back— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) April 25, 2022
Mayhew said there's some interest from other teams about moving up and down in the first round. Their decision on whether that's an avenue the Commanders want to take will depend on how the picks in front of them turn out— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) April 25, 2022
Read: Commanders really want to move back, and that doesnt just mean at 11 https://t.co/VGxivJMVwc— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) April 25, 2022
Mayhew said in terms of trading back it's "all about who's there when on the clock.. can you go back and still get a player you have a conviction on? If there's a guy at 11 we have conviction on, we'll take that player."— John Keim (@john_keim) April 25, 2022
Rivera said the Commanders' draft board was set last Friday.— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) April 25, 2022
1st round grades:
Ron Rivera said they had "several" first-round grades on players in this year's draft.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) April 25, 2022
Taking a step forward:
Rivera reiterated that he expects the Commanders to take a step forward this year. Mentioned the team has some young guys who have played a lot already, and he's looking forward to them going further in their production— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) April 25, 2022
Rivera mentioned multiple offensive players who made progress last season, including Saahdiq Charles, Keith Ismael, Dyami Brown and Antonio Gibson— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) April 25, 2022
Mayhew and Rivera talking about Terry McLaurin/talks. pic.twitter.com/sVm8gGLg8j— John Keim (@john_keim) April 25, 2022
Martin Mayhew, on contract talks with Terry McLaurin: "We have had dialogue with Terry and his agent. We're really excited about the opportunity of having Terry continue with us for a long time."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) April 25, 2022
Martin Mayhew has "great respect" for Terry McLaurin and is enticed by the idea of having him stay with Washington for a long time (as he should be!). Ron Rivera, meanwhile, says Terry's contract situation won't impact draft plans at all— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) April 25, 2022
Ron Rivera essentially just said the #Commanders have not been active in free agency because of how much cap space they spent on Carson Wentz ahead of free agency.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) April 25, 2022
Favorite QB in the draft:
Rivera said he did have "a guy" among the rookie first-round quarterbacks that he particularly liked before trading for Wentz. He said doing research on quarterback class helps as a reference point for possible trades at 11.— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) April 25, 2022
Ron Rivera on Carson Wentz now that he can be in the building … pic.twitter.com/pZD5rOHTDx— John Keim (@john_keim) April 25, 2022
Having Carson Wentz add a whole new element to the Commanders' offense, Rivera said.— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) April 25, 2022
Rivera repeats his mantra of needing to protect Carson Wentz and also put "dynamic playmakers" around him.— John Keim (@john_keim) April 25, 2022
"If we can't get one, we have to make sure we get the other to help him," Rivera said.
Rivera has appreciated how Carson Wentz has been interacting with his new players and coaches. It creates the kind of vibe that you look for, and there's a positive energy around the building— Zach Selby (@ZachSelbyWC) April 25, 2022
Drafting a QB:
Rivera said the Commanders would like to draft a quarterback to be the team's third option. They'll look to add one at some point even if it doesn't materialize. Rivera said the need to draft one high changes with Carson Wentz's arrival.— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) April 25, 2022
Ron Rivera says Chase Young has been doing "real well" and it's great to see him in the facility and attack the rehab— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) April 25, 2022
Rivera says Chase Young is focused, "fired up;... attacking his rehab." Didn't get into timetable...— John Keim (@john_keim) April 25, 2022
Rivera said there is no time frame on Chase Young's return from an ACL tear -- by choice. They are happy with his recovery process, which is what matters. Young is in Ashburn working with Al Bellamy, the new head athletic trainer.— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) April 25, 2022
The strength and conditioning staff has told Ron Rivera that Curtis Samuel is looking "really good" thus far. No football activities have happened but Ron likes the initial reports on Samuel— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) April 25, 2022
Ron Rivera said that Curtis Samuel looks good and that he's received positive feedback from trainers about the WR. "When you do see him moving around, you feel pretty confident about him," Rivera said.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) April 25, 2022
Ron Rivera on his reaction to the passing of Dwayne Haskins: "Just shock and disbelief. Just a feeling of sorrow. Dwayne was a solid young man who had a big heart. It's very unfortunate."— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) April 25, 2022
Rivera: "The intent is to develop the Buffalo defense that we have." Washington has a vacancy at that position right now because it cut Landon Collins.— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) April 25, 2022
Rivera is talking about the draft process this year versus the past two where COVID changed so much. He mentions Kyle Smith's work in 2020, and that what Smith did during that period "was pretty doggone good."— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) April 25, 2022
Washington selected Young, Gibson and Curl that year.