Every NFL team gets 7 draft picks per season.
Of course, they can get more. Compensatory picks are awarded to teams who lose veteran players to other teams, and to teams whose minority coaches and front office executives are hired away by other franchises.
But at the heart of it, there are 7 picks per team that form the backbone of the draft.
If your team isn’t awarded any compensatory picks, then the only way to get more picks is to trade for someone else’s. Typically, re-building teams try to trade down for more picks, while teams that see themselves as just one or two players away may be more likely to trade up in an effort to ‘get their guy’. The challenge is to get good value and use your picks wisely. Of course, you can trade players for picks (like the Titans sending A.J. Brown to the Eagles), or sometimes even coaches, but the most common way to accumulate picks is to trade back — to give up one or more higher valued draft picks for multiple lower valued picks.
The amount of trading (both players and picks) seems to have been picking up in volume over recent years, and now it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of what happened to those 7 basic picks the team started with. By way of example, the 16th overall pick that was used by the Commanders to select Jahan Dotson was acquired from the Saints, who got it in trade from the Eagles, who got it by trading Carson Wentz to the Colts last year. Yes, that 16th overall pick started out its life as one of the 7 Colts picks in the 2022 draft.
A lot of draft pundits (and Eagles fans) have shouted loudly that you can’t assess Howie Roseman’s performance in the 2022 draft without including WR A.J. Brown as part if the draft haul, despite the fact that he’s a veteran who came to the team in a trade. It’s a reasonable argument, but I’m not sure why such analysis should be limited to draft-day player trades. After all, in the end, isn’t the point for GMs to use the draft assets to do what they can to strengthen their team’s rosters? Shouldn’t we look at the totality of how they use their draft picks in evaluating the outcome? The Rams, for example, didn’t have a pick until the 3rd round this year. They traded away their first round pick as part of the deal to acquire Matt Stafford, and they sent their 2nd rounder to the Broncos to get ahold of Von Miller. Rams fans don’t care because they won a Super Bowl in February. That euphoric feeling had better last a long time because Les Snead also traded away next year’s first-round pick in the deal for Stafford. Shouldn’t this year’s draft be partly judged on the outcome achieved by trading 2022 picks for Stafford and Miller in 2021?
With these and other thoughts in mind, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what happened to Washington’s 7 original picks from the 2022 draft.
Spoiler alert: the team parlayed those 7 picks into 11 players. Well, you might say 10 1⁄2 since there’s still one installment left on the deal with the Colts — a 2023 2nd or 3rd round selection, based on Wentz’s 2022 snap count.
Here’s the summary of what happened, with a bit of an explanation to follow
In one of the most talked-about trades in the 2022 draft, Washington traded #11 overall for three picks:
- #16 (1st round)
- # 98 (3rd round)
- #120 (4th round)
The last of those picks was traded again later, but the #16 pick was used on WR Jahan Dotson and #98 was used on Alabama RB Brian Robinson Jr..
This pick was part of the Carson Wentz trade, with the Commanders and Colts swapping 2nd round picks. Washington ended up with #47, which they used to draft DT Phidarian Mathis.
This pick was the primary component of the 2022 payment on the installment plan that brought QB Carson Wentz to Washington. It seems only fair to count this as only 1⁄2 a player since the Colts will get another draft pick from the Commanders next April, but this was really the centerpiece of Washington’s 2022 offseason, and should be as much of a factor in evaluating Martin Mayhew’s draft performance as A.J. Brown is to evaluating Howie Roseman’s in Philadelphia.
This is one of only two of Washington’s original 7 draft picks that wasn’t involved in a trade. The Commanders used this pick on free safety / nickel back Percy Butler.
This pick was traded by the Washington Football Team during last year’s draft. Washington’s front office traded this 2022 5th round pick for two 2021 picks — a 6th rounder and a 7th rounder.
The two picks were used to select long snapper Cameron Cheeseman and DE WIlliam Bradley-King respectively. Both players spent the entire 2021 season on the 53-man roster. Cheeseman, like most long snappers, can probably look forward to a decade-long-plus career in the NFL. Bradley-King did not impress in ‘21, and may struggle to keep his roster spot following the signing of veteran free agent Efe Obada in March.
This pick was packaged up with #120 (acquired in the trade with the Saints) and the two picks were traded to the Panthers in exchange for Picks 144 & 149 (Both early in the 5th round).
With these two picks, the Commanders stopped the slide of QB Sam Howell at #144 overall, and then added 6’7” tight end Cole Turner with #149.
This is the ‘other’ pick that was never traded. The Commanders front office used this on OL Chris Paul, who is expected to compete for a backup guard spot in 2022.
This was not one of the team’s original 7 picks; rather, it was acquired from the Colts as part of the Carson Wentz trade. This pick was used to select CB Christian Holmes.
So there you are. The front office turned 7 picks into 11 players. My guess is that most fans would, in a vacuum, see the list of 11 players as a pretty good draft haul. However, we don’t live in a vacuum.
To make the judgement a little easier (or at least, to add more data points to the analysis), I’ve listed the 7 players actually selected in the NFL draft with Washington’s original 7 picks side-by-side with the Commanders’ 11 newly acquired players, whom I have re-sorted to reflect my perception of their relative values.
See what you think.
Think of these as two mock drafts that you might compare. The one on the left represents what might’ve been if the team had held onto its 7 selections (yes, I understand these are not the exact 7 players that Washington would’ve selected, but work with me here), while the one on the right is the result of a philosophy of active trading.
How did that active trading philosophy turn out for Martin Maybew and Ron Rivera?
The Commanders’ top priority for this offseason was to get the team a quarterback that could elevate the offense from its 2021 18-points-per-game level. With limited veteran options available in free agency or trade, the front office settled on Carson Wentz as the best available answer. In the draft, they also selected a young quarterback from UNC who regressed statistically in 2021, but who has a big arm and lots of upside potential.
The team added a speedy and versatile receiver, a power running back, a run-stopping two-gapping defensive tackle, a free safety with range, instincts and position flex, a towering pass-catching tight end, a backup offensive lineman, and corner depth to go along with the long-snapper and backup DE drafted a year ago.
How does that stack up against the actual 7 picks made by other teams at those spots, which act as something of a proxy for what the Commanders front office might have had if they’d been less active in the trade market?
Did the front office get good value, or was it just a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing?
Given the options available to the front office, grade its success in resolving the quarterback issue this offseason.
This poll is closed
Grade how well the team utilized its 7 picks from the 2022 draft.
This poll is closed
What’s the most important defensive position to address by signing a veteran free agent between now and the start of the season?
This poll is closed
interior defensive line