Quickly shaking off the hangover of Day 2 of the NFL draft, I rose early to prepare myself for Day 3, and the five Washington picks yet to come. It’s one of the NFL draft’s chief advantages: It’s relentless. It keeps coming at you. It doesn’t really matter how you did the day before - at least not in the moment - you need to pull your act together and make a new round of picks right now. So wake up!
So how did Washington do? Let’s go through a quick re-cap of the picks, and talk a little bit about the undrafted free agents they’ve already signed.
Round 4: No. 113 – Percy Butler, S, Louisiana
Butler was not a name I was familiar with prior to the draft, so once he was selected, I needed to do some online reconnaissance. One of the first things I came across was Chris Simms’ video evaluation of Butler, a piece of which I’ll transcribe, but the full evaluation is in the tweet below.
Butler was Simms’ #5 safety in the draft:
“This a a guy who is not versatile. He is a free safety all the way. You want him as a coverage safety and almost nothing else. He will tackle, he’s not afraid to tackle. He’s phenomenal on special teams. The dude comes downhill in a hurry. He’s not the greatest open field tackler. The fucker ran 4.36 at the Combine. Has off the charts acceleration. When he reads it and goes. He has “rocket up his ass and goes.”
He proceeds to say his shortcoming is that he doesn’t do well what Cam Chancellor did, which is take that speed and be able to break down and adjust and re-direct it to the ball. It’s something he needs to work on.
“When you talk about ball skills, playing the ball in the air, the ability to run with top tier WRs, burst, it’s wowing. He’s made for the pass. He’s an NFL free safety, and he’s got an elite skill in his ability to cover and run the ball down in the air. There’s some elite traits with this kid as far as speed and acceleration, and the feet, the feet are real.”
He moves like a top tier WR. I could see him being a late second, third rounder.”
As someone who would have been happy with Maryland’s Nick Cross at 47, in part because he was considered one of the best, true free safeties in the draft, this evaluation was a symphony to my ears. Based on this, not only do I think Butler becomes a fixture on special teams, I think he’s serious competition for McCain at free safety. Kudos!
My full Percy Butler breakdown: https://t.co/qFkJAk2c8j— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) April 30, 2022
TRADE! Washington traded back with Carolina here, pinching their 4th and 6ht rounders into two 5th rounders. I loved this move.
Round 5: No. 144 (from CAR via JAX) – Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
For me, this pick was probably more important from the “team building philosophy” perspective than it was from the actual player perspective. From the outset of the draft, I thought it was absolutely critical that the team have a “Plan B” in the pipeline at QB, in case something went wrong with the Carson Wentz project. My preference was Matt Corral, but I like Howell as well.
Yes, Howell’s continual fall may have “forced” Washington’s hand - his value being simply too good to pass up in the 5th round - but I don’t really care. Now, the QB pipeline has been filled, and the team has some breathing room as it moves into the 2022 season and beyond.
I sincerely hope Wentz plays his ass off and succeeds next year, but if he doesn’t, Washington - and a number of other teams - will find potentially find themselves in a QB feeding frenzy during the 2023 draft. Howell’s presence gives them at least some chance of avoiding complete desperation in that moment. This pick could end up, ultimately, being the most important of the whole draft for Washington.
NFL Network’s James Jones:— WeGotAQB (@chet1970) April 30, 2022
(Packers SB Wideout)
His favorite Value in Draft was Sam Howell.
“Love the Sam Howell pick…Yeah we all know Wentz is over there, but I wouldn’t be surprised.. I truly believe he’s the Starter for the Commanders in Week 8 or 9.”
“Steal of Draft.”
Round 5: No. 149 (from CAR) – Cole Turner, TE, Nevada
I suspect this pick made Mark Tyler very happy. It made me happy as well. I love the idea of regularly drafting tight ends, as they often take awhile to develop, and they’re an increasingly critical piece of many offenses. Where John Bates was a blocking fiend, Turner is the sort of tight end who is a QB’s best friend, able to grab nearly everything that comes into his airspace. He’s not a burner, and doesn’t have great ability to break away, from what I’ve seen so far, but he looks like the sort of target who could be a chain-moving, red zone menace to defenses.
He, like many tight ends Washington has vetted over the past couple of years, is a converted WR. It will be exciting to see how he develops.
Round 7: No. 230 – Chris Paul, G, Tulsa
Based on the way the team was drafting in Day 2, I thought there would be two top priorities in Day 3: A free safety to compete with McCain, and a guard prospect, to provide more durable depth behind Schweitzer and Norwell. Butler checks the first box and Paul absolutely checks the second.
Somehow, this dude, who is 6’4”, 324 lbs ran a 4.89 40 at the Combine. In addition to his athleticism, Paul is noted for his intelligence and excellent character. He is position versatile - can play guard and tackle - and was rated a 5th round talent by many observers. I love this pick here and look forward to seeing what John Matsko can do with him.
The OL from Tulsa Chris Paul is definitely a Ron Type of guy. https://t.co/y0P3XTeCg2— E.O.Anderson (@Sleazy1DB) April 30, 2022
Round 7: No. 240 (from PHI via IND) – Christian Holmes, CB, Oklahoma State
Holmes is another guy that I wasn’t familiar with leading up to the draft, but as I dig into his evaluation, his situation seems quite similar to a number of the other picks, particularly those on Day 2. He’s at the older end of the spectrum, experienced, and should be ready to compete for a spot on the roster out of the gate. In Holmes’ case, he’s be 25 by the time the season starts.
The average age of Washington’s 2022 Draft Class is 22.9. An older group as Ron Rivera and his staff look for instant impact.— Ethan Cadeaux (@Ethan_Cadeaux) April 30, 2022
Oldest player — Christian Holmes (24.7)
Youngest player — Sam Howell (21.6)
Apparently Holmes had been in touch with the team quite a bit in advance of the draft, and the sense seems to be that it’s a good fit.
Christian Holmes tells us he "clicked" with Commanders DBs coach Chris Harris during the run up to the draft. Holmes believes he's going to fit in easily in the NFL due to that and his maturity— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) April 30, 2022
With impressive athleticism metrics, and some nice film from his all-star game, I like this pick as a developmental prospect at CB.
Oklahoma State CB Christian Holmes (6000, 200) is a draft prospect who could work himself into a Day 2 pick after completing his best season in ‘21 & an impressive @Hula_Bowl performance. It’ll be interesting to see Holmes’ tracking data & athleticism score from @RAanalytics pic.twitter.com/j9MJJJbSRu— Cory Yates (@CoryRAanalytics) January 14, 2022
The Undrafted Free Agents
If asked about the biggest gap still left after the draft, I imagine Commander fans would shout, nearly in unison, “LINEBACKER!,” so it’s no surprise that the team prioritized grabbing several as undrafted free agents in the hours after the last pick was made. Those include:
This hurt me and I’m 30 yards away— Armen Araradian (@ArmenAraradian) October 5, 2019
Tre Walker laying down the lumber as the 1st half ends
Weber State: 20
Ferrod Gardner comes up with a BIG third down stop for the Cajuns pic.twitter.com/cxz56LXqtz— Sun Belt Pages (@SBPages) September 26, 2020
The @seniorbowl is looking live at @NDFootball vs @BoilerFootball. Irish LB Drew White (@Drew_white11) is one of most instinctive (and underrated) LBs in April’s draft. Physical downhill block-striker can run & hit. Stands out on ST .#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE™️#BestoftheBest pic.twitter.com/cgvYEwtzuR— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 18, 2021
Of this group, White intrigues me the most. He benched 22 reps at his pro day and his film shows an excellent ability to burst through the line of scrimmage. I’m still trying to figure out why he wasn’t drafted.
Other notable UDFAs include Sam Houston State WR Jequez Ezzard, who looks like he could compete for a punt return role, and several additional tight ends, including Armani Rogers (Ohio) and Curtis Hodges (Arizona State), as well as massive QB Cole Kelley, who I suspect may be another QB to TE conversion project.
The full list can be found here.
After doing a deeper dive into the Day 3 crew, I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable about the overall Commanders’ draft. A very solid “A-” on Day 3 pulls the draft up to a B (now leaning B+), in my mind. I’d like to hear your thought in the comments below.
How would you grade the Commanders’ 2022 draft overall?
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