clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Commanders 2022 UDFA spotlight: CB Josh Drayden and CB Nijuel Hill

A pair of unheralded cornerbacks trying to break into the NFL

Washington currently has 14 UDFAs and a pair of 7th round drafted rookies on the roster, but that list of players is subject to a lot of change. In previous years, we’ve put together profiles of players only to see them cut by the team a day before the profile was set to publish (or a day after it did publish). In fact, in just the 4 weeks or so that followed the 2022 draft, we saw a lot of churn in this part of the roster among both UDFAs and veteran free agents.

These articles about the bottom-of-the-roster players are not intended to suggest that any given player is bound for glory; rather, the articles are intended to celebrate the ongoing fight of each player to extend his NFL dream.

For those of you who appreciate the fight of the underdog, I hope you enjoy today’s article and the others that will follow in this “2022 UDFA Spotlight” series.

Today, I want to take a brief look at a pair of cornerbacks who appear to have the longest odds of making the Commanders roster.

Both players are 24 years old and each is listed on the Commanders website as being 5’10” and 185 pounds, which is an inch taller than Danny Johnson & Bobby McCain, but 5 pounds lighter than Johnson and 11 pounds lighter than McCain. Only Jahan Dotson, at 182 pounds, weighs less than Drayden & Hill.

Josh Drayden, CB, California

There’s not a lot of information floating around on the interwebs about Drayden, but I was able to uncover one interesting nugget. He holds the record for most games ever played by a California Golden Bear football player.

Through the vagaries of the NCAA rules and the COVID-related adjustments, Drayden played all or part of 6 seasons for Cal, finishing on a high note with a win against rival USC in his final game, despite a 5-7 season record.

In his 43-game career, Drayden accumulated 82 tackles, 17 passes defended, and 3 interceptions, with one of those a pick-6.

This offseason, Drayden is wearing the red #38 jersey.

As a smaller DB, Drayden is not possessed of any particular athletic gifts by NFL standards, though, as you can see from his photo above, he is an athletic specimen by nearly any other standard.

Also, as we know, UDFAs usually need to excel on special teams to make the roster. Drayden has never, as far as I can tell, returned punts or kickoffs. He seems too slow to be a gunner, and too small for most everything else on special teams, but maybe his tackling skills are solid enough to get him onto punt & kick coverage units.

He does seem, however, to be intelligent and personable, based on a couple of interviews posted on youtube — one from the start of the ‘21 season, and the other right after his final college game.

August 2021

December 2021

Here is Josh Drayden’s highlight reel

Nijuel Hill, CB, Delaware

While Drayden played for the Golden Bears, Hill was a Blue Hen. Hill was redshirted for his freshman season in 2016, but managed to play 53 games in 5 seasons between 2017 and 2021.

In those 53 games, Hill accounted for 88 tackles, 31 passes defended, 7 interceptions, a forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries.

Unlike Drayden, who was signed by the Commanders shortly after the draft, Hill attended Washington’s rookie minicamp as a tryout player, and was signed to a contract in mid-May. This offseason, Hill is wearing the red #32 jersey.

Hill is a bit more athletic than Drayden, but still not a physical specimen by NFL standards, aside from his impressive 19 reps on the bench press at his pro day. His speed and agility aren’t bad.

Like Drayden, Hill seems both personable and intelligent. Also like Drayden, Hill has no college experience as a punt or kickoff return man, though with his slight advantage in speed and agility, he may be slightly better suited to playing on coverage teams.

Interview November 2021 following win vs. Dixie State

Here is Nijuel Hill’s highlight film

Commanders Depth Chart


How excited are you that Josh Drayden was signed by the Commanders?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    5 - Very excited!
    (11 votes)
  • 4%
    4 - Looks good...for a UDFA
    (17 votes)
  • 23%
    3 - I’m okay; let’s wait and see
    (85 votes)
  • 60%
    2 - I’m doubtful about this guy’s prospects
    (220 votes)
  • 8%
    1 - This guy doesn’t belong in an NFL training camp
    (31 votes)
364 votes total Vote Now


How excited are you that Nijuel Hill was signed by the Commanders?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    5 - Very excited!
    (16 votes)
  • 7%
    4 - Looks good...for a UDFA
    (27 votes)
  • 31%
    3 - I’m okay; let’s wait and see
    (110 votes)
  • 51%
    2 - I’m doubtful about this guy’s prospects
    (182 votes)
  • 4%
    1 - This guy doesn’t belong in an NFL training camp
    (17 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now