The 2022-23 season has been a strange one for Washington, and not just because it’s their first one using the Commanders name. They started out 2-4, but then their big QB acquisition, Carson Wentz, broke his finger and was placed on IR. Taylor Heinicke took over as the starter for the third season in a row, and led the team to a chance at the playoffs. That all fell apart in December, then we got the return of Carson Wentz and the debut of Sam Howell in January.
Washington currently has 6 picks in the 2023 NFL draft, but they are expected to receive comp picks for departed free agents Brandon Scherff (3rd round) and Tim Settle (6th round) per Over the Cap. The Commanders hold the 16th overall pick in this year’s draft.
Washington Commanders Projected 2023 Draft Picks
1st Round: #16
2nd Round: #47
3rd Round: (traded to Colts for QB Carson Wentz)
#97 (Projected compensatory pick)
4th Round: #117
6th Round: #192
#216 (Projected compensatory pick)
7th Round: #235
Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft of 2023, which means it’s officially mock draft season! He gives the Washington Commanders a player that will check off a need for the team team going forward, and one that will give them more flexibility. Kiper goes with Georgia’s OT Broderick Jones, and talks about the seemingly never-ending QB parade that runs through Washington every year. Carson Wentz will be released before free agency begins, and Heinicke will be on the market. That leaves Sam Howell, and the possibility of another QB added through either the draft or free agency(no trades please).
Washington has been starting Charles Leno Jr. at LT for the last two years, but he has a $12.5 million cap hit this year. The team saves $8 million if they decide to move on. At right tackle they started both Sam Cosmi and Cornelius Lucas, and they were even rotating them during games. Cosmi got a start at guard and could be moved there permanently if a better tackle is added. Lucas is under contract for another year, and is still a cheap option as a swing tackle.
There are 32 more mock drafts in this week’s roundup featuring 13 more players, and they address several positions for Washington. If they don’t find an offensive linemen they like at #16, cornerback will have a lot of value, and will reinforce a group that has Kendall Fuller on the last year of his contract, and Benjamin St-Juste who has had injury issues in both of his NFL seasons.
We’re starting to get some trades featured in mock drafts, and two of them involve the Washington Commanders. One involves a trade down with the Seahawks to #20 where they get a CB, but no compensation is mentioned. The second one would be a big one that will not be popular with a lot of fans. Washington trades up to #13 and sends their 1st round pick, along with their 2nd and 6th round picks. They move up 3 spots to pick Florida QB Anthony Richardson, and also get the Jets 4th and 5th round picks. Richardson is a project with a lot of potential, but Washington wouldn’t be able to pick again until their late 3rd round comp pick.
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
Here’s yet another team with quarterback issues, as the Commanders traded for Carson Wentz last offseason (which cost them their third-rounder this year) but turned back to Taylor Heinicke down the stretch. Neither is likely to be their Week 1 starter; I wonder if they will be players in the veteran-signal-caller market and bring in someone to compete with rookie Sam Howell. No matter who is playing quarterback, though, they have to improve along the offensive line. Jones is a 310-pound mauler who didn’t allow a single sack as the Bulldogs’ left tackle in 2022. I wouldn’t be shocked if he went in the top 10.
O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
Torrence transferred from Louisiana and didn’t miss a beat. He’s been dominant for Florida and is a plug-and-play player at the next level.
Peter Skoronski, OL, Northwestern
Draft Countdown (Hallam)
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
NFL Spin Zone (Gurzi)
#13 overall selection
2023 4th round selection
2023 5th round selection
#16 overall selection
2023 2nd round selection
2023 6th round selection
It’s clear the New York Jets don’t believe in Zach Wilson which makes it tempting for them to bring in Anthony Richardson. Even so, they’re likely going to give him one more year with a new offensive coordinator, which opens the door for the Washington Commanders to move up to No. 13.
They send their second-round pick as well as No. 16 but then swap a few other picks as well to make it worthwhile. In the end, Washington adds Richardson which might give them their future quarterback. It also might be a bust since he’s an athletic freak but not refined as a passer. Still, he’s easier to believe in than Carson Wentz, so it makes sense to pull the trigger.
Any NFL team that drafts Anthony Richardson will know he can’t start a game in 2023. The Washington Commanders can find a bridge quarterback for next season, someone who provides stability for a year or two and takes advantage of the pieces around him. Richardson can develop during that time and if everything goes right, he’ll be remembered as the best quarterback from the 2023 NFL Draft.
NFL Draft Wire(Miller)
The Commanders still haven’t found the answer at the quarterback position, with yet another experimental run with Carson Wentz last year.
They will be able to find the long-term solution here with the ultra-talented Richardson, who can do some of the things a young Cam Newton was able to accomplish during Rivera’s tenure with Carolina.
He will likely need a year to develop, but this team has a good bridge quarterback on the roster, and can practice patience until Richardson is ready.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
Pro Football Network(Broback)
There isn’t a consensus opinion on Will Levis, making it unclear where teams will take him right now. The current trend is that he’ll be gone well before this pick, but for now, there’s a chance that the Commanders can snag him.
The future at quarterback isn’t super bright, so Washington needs to find a solution. Levis has the tools to be an elite quarterback, but it comes down to consistency. If he gets into the right system, Levis could take this offense to new heights.
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
NBC Sports Boston(Perry)
Take us back to the days of Chris Cooley and Logan Paulson, Washington. OK maybe those names aren’t enough to really fire up a fanbase, but Mayer has the ability to be a foundational player in any offense.
Is he the world’s greatest athlete at the position? Probably not. But he has hands. And the Commanders need to add as many competent offensive players as possible this offseason. Mayer qualifies.
Pro Football Network(Cummings)
The Commanders need to address their offensive line, but they also need to ensure that their starting quarterback in 2023 has the weapons he needs.
Logan Thomas is getting older and more injury prone. And as a TE prospect, Michael Mayer has decade-long safety blanket potential. He’s a quarterback’s best friend with his ability to convert.
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Gonzalez (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) has an ideal blend of size, speed and fluidity. He struggled a little early in the season, but kept getting better throughout the year. Washington has a strong need at the position.
Kendall Fuller has been solid and Benjamin St-Juste is ascending, but neither are true lockdown cornerbacks. Christian Gonzalez has excellent ball skills, and his 6-2, 200-pound frame allows him to match up well against bigger wideouts — such as NFC East receivers CeeDee Lamb and A.J. Brown.
Washington needs more depth in the secondary, and Gonzalez is a fine option. He recorded four interceptions and 50 tackles during the season for the Ducks.
Pro Football Network(Cummings)
The Commanders have work to do up front in the trenches. But if a top-10 talent like Christian Gonzalez falls this far, it’s tough not to pull the trigger. Gonzalez is a bonafide CB1 with his explosiveness, change of direction, awareness, and ball skills at 6’2″, 200 pounds.
NFL Draft Bible
“Terrific length and subtle weight that doesn’t burden his athleticism. Tons of press-bail alignments, typically to the boundary. He has blitzed from the field and has an impact on the pass.”
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
The Commanders’ cornerback play was frustratingly inconsistent this season, so there should be changes coming. Although he’s not quite on the same level as his former college teammate, Jaycee Horn, Cam Smith is stylistically similar with his length, light-footed movements and aggressive approach.
Round 2: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
This secondary needs a true shutdown artist to take over the No. 1 corner spot, and this gives Washington the perfect chance to do just that. Smith is a stellar cover man with a knack for making big plays whenever the ball comes anywhere near him.
Round 2: Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
Smith feels made for the modern game with the way he gets aggressive at the line and follows guys all over the field. Washington needs help on the back end and the upside this feisty corner provides might be what they’re looking for.
CBS Sports (Trapasso)
The Commanders have to get better play out of the outside cornerback position. Smith is a big, physical, dynamic athlete at the position.
The top of this cornerback class is so good – and Cam Smith is no exception. He logged over 1,300 defensive snaps for the Gamecocks over four seasons. Over his last two seasons, Smith allowed a catch percentage of just 47.1% in coverage. The Commanders were ninth in dropback EPA allowed but still need some cornerback depth to keep that train rolling into the 2023 season.
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Washington needs more cornerback and safety help. Here is a starting corner who could provide a quick upgrade.
Overall, Porter was steady coverage in 2022 while recording 27 tackles and 11 passes broken up. However, he really did not provide any big plays and did not record an interception. Porter rotated in as freshman in 2020 and had a quality debut. In 2021, he collected 51 tackles, one interception, four passes broken up and one forced fumble. The son of legendary Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, Joey Porter Jr., has an NFL pedigree. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder possesses excellent size and the upside to become an impactful player. Porter has freakishly long arms, which makes him a superb fit for press-man corner to take on big receivers.
The Draft Network(Parson)
The Commanders were close to a playoff berth this season. I expect Sam Howell to be the starting QB in 2023. That said, improving their defensive secondary should be a priority. They do not have a CB1 on the roster. Joey Porter Jr. gives them that caliber of talent. He has NFL bloodlines and is a man-to-man corner with good instincts. Rivera finds his CB1.
Chicago Sun Times(Leiser)
The son of the former All-Pro linebacker by the same name, Porter is a far better college prospect than his dad. He could’ve gone pro a year ago.
NFL Mocks (Haas)
The Commanders have a few pressing needs on the roster, but none bigger than at cornerback. Joey Porter Jr. has top-of-the-depth-chart talent and legitimate NFL length on the outside. If he can cut out some of his penalties, JPJ will be the CB1 in DC for years to come.
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
The ultra-smooth cover corner flashes lockdown capabilities on the island.
The 33rd Team
Projected trade with Seattle Seahawks(#20)
Witherspoon’s aggressive physical play style is a good fit for the culture that Ron Rivera has built in Washington.
CBS Sports (Edwards)
Washington plays an average amount of man coverage but you have to be comfortable playing in a zone in today’s NFL as well. Witherspoon is an incredibly intelligent player with great awareness, physicality and a fiery spirit.
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
For the Win(D’Andrea)
Ringo’s slide ends here, assuming the Commanders act rationally (they won’t, so pencil in Anthony Richardson if you’re inclined). The Georgia standout sealed up the Bulldogs’ 2021 title with an interception, then had a pass defensed and a forced fumble in the Peach Bowl against Ohio State 51 weeks later. He’s big (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), fast and productive on a big stage.
Washington fielded a top 10 defense last fall, but needs reinforcements in the secondary — especially at cornerback, where 2020 signing William Jackson III failed to pan out. Ringo brings CB1 power to a group that punched above its weight class last season. He’s not the hype-generating quarterback Dan Snyder hopes will make fans forget about the dumpster fire he runs, but he’s a potential star just the same.
Winning was unequivocally not the right thing to do Sunday, but the Commanders did it anyway. Lucky for them, they only dropped two spots in draft order (from 14 to 16) instead of the possibility of picking as high as tenth if teams ahead of them won their games. Yes, Sam Howell fared well in his debut, but there’s a reason he was a 5th-round pick and, lest we forget, this franchise has spent three decades playing the ‘what if?’ game with quarterbacks.
For the majority of the past 15 years, Washington has been in QB purgatory because of their tendency to land somewhere between 6 and 9 wins, leaving their draft pick somewhere between 10 and 20, far away from the top signal-callers. While no fan wants to suffer through a 2 or 3 win season, a roster like this really would have benefitted from a ‘tanking’ year and a top prospect at the position.
As Kevin Sheehan has reiterated on his podcast (‘Sam Howell I am’), this roster is surprisingly very good. The defense is a top-five unit in the NFL even though it battled injuries throughout the season. The offensive weapons-from a strong stable of RBs to a possible elite duo of WRs in Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson-are young and talented as well. The offensive line needs work-and needs to get younger-and an extra CB along with the retention of DaRon Payne are important pieces, but this team is much closer to contention than it was at this point last season.
The one thing the team needs? The most important thing in all of sports. The one thing it may not be any closer to acquiring...remains a franchise quarterback.
Brian Branch, CB, Alabama
The Redskins can’t cover anyone, thanks to William Jackson being a complete bust as a free agent signing. They desperately need someone new to stay with A.J. Brown and CeeDee Lamb.
Brian Branch has nice size and cover ability.
Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
NBC Sports Chicago(Morgan)
The transfer portal in college football provides immediate opportunities for players to proactively change their situations for the better. Sanders began his career at Alabama and for two years (15 games) tallied just 33 tackles and one sack. He transfers to Arkansas for the 2022 season and becomes wildly productive, registering 103 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 5 passes defended and 3 forced fumbles. Now, he’s asking for an opportunity to grow in the NFL.
Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Daron Payne is a pending free agent and the Commanders should look for a new complement to Jonathan Allen to help Chase Young and Montez Sweat up front. Bresee offers good technique and nimble feet as a run-stopper and also can boost the inside pass rush.
Which position should Washington draft in the 1st round?
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