2024 Mock Draft: Non-rebuild edition

Ah, what a year for our Commanders. Our defense turned into a sieve, our offense is rockier than a backcountry road, and we fired half our defensive coaching staff, with quite a few more to follow them. However, we have a few bright spots. If the new ownership/coaching staff/front office is smart, we have a franchise QB, we have great cap space, we are apparently an extremely desirable spot for new hires, and we have excellent draft position. Which brings me. To a mock draft.

I have done quite literally dozens of mock drafts since the season has started, mostly because I need a way to kill time. I have firm opinions as to what Washington should prioritize this year in the draft, and I have drafted accordingly. Of course, our new staff will have different ideas and will most likely disregard all necessities this offseason because the burgundy and gold can never have anything nice. However, I plan on doing my part in trying to get the message out there as to what we should draft like. So here is my first official mock draft for the Commanders, complete with reasoning for my picks (because I’ll most likely need it to help defend myself).

R1 P5: Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

In my opinion, OT is Washington’s biggest need, so I got the best one left on the board. I personally like Olu Fashanu a little better as a player, but Alt is a physical specimen who, coupled with his athletic abilities, has the power to dominate on every down. Flexible, explosive, and with franchise tackle potential, Alt will strengthen the aging, out-of-touch group of our line we call the tackle position.

R2 P36: Donovan Jackson, OG, Ohio State

Sam Cosmi is the only young Commanders offensive lineman this year to have seen significant playing time and look like a quality piece of the puzzle (though I do like the potential of Ricky Stromberg in either position he plays). So why not give him a partner who can help take the slack off? Jackson is a behemoth who is able to use his 36" arms and 6-4, 320-pound body, along with the ability to stay low, place his hands well, drive laterally and forward, and maul defenders in open space, to become one of the top guards in the draft. He brings an element of dominance and consistency to this line

R2 P38: J.T. Tuimoloau, DE/EDGE, Ohio State

Am I picking Ohio State players because they’re my favorite college football team? Not consciously. J.T. Tuimoloau is a huge player who also possesses elite speed, mobility, and burst. He fires off the line every play and is a good tackler in close quarters or when head-on with the ball carrier. I’d personally like more consistency from him, but he had all the skills to be a force on the DL for the Commanders.

R3 P70: Caelen Carson, CB, Wake Forest

The secondary this year had been hot garbage, aside from occasional plays from Kam Curl and Kendall Fuller. Caelen Carson, a decent-sized corner, can help fix that. A quick corner with good footwork, speed, reaction time, recovery speed, and flexibility, he’s earned all-ACC honors in his time at Wake Forest. Essentially, he’s a bit like Emmanuel Forbes, but with a better drop back and a little bigger. His ability to deflect passes and gum up receivers who try to overpower him with rough play could help establish him as a new breed of Washington corner.

R3 P96: Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State

Linebacker is a big need for Washington. Jamin Davis is a solid player, but the Cody Barton signing has proven to be a whiff thus far, and Khaleke Hudson and David Mayo have disappointed. Ron Rivera and Jack del Rio have refused to better the linebacker position over the years, but Tommy Eichenberg will hopefully solve that. After a breakout 2022 season, Eichenberg has been climbing draft boards, and for good reason. A huge linebacker who also is good in coverage, he explodes through gaps in the line of scrimmage and is an elite pursuer. He plays hard and leaves everything on the field every play. While not an overwhelming athlete, his leadership and style of play are that of a player who calls the defensive plays and is the cornerstone of a championship-level defense. Playing with Jamin Davis-like Steele Chambers at Ohio State could also help.

R4 P101: Johnny Wilson, WR, Florida State

Curtis Samuel has been a good receiver for Washington, but his contract, injury problems, and consistency will be problems this offseason. With Sam Howell cementing himself as the guy at quarterback for Washington, he’ll need some weapons. Enter Johnny Wilson. A huge, speedy receiver who has elite physical attributes, he earned all-ACC honors in 2022 with 800+ receiving yards, averaging more than 20 yards per catch. A guy who can overpower small corners and outrun slower ones, he can serve a supporting role as a big-play threat and a monster on second and third downs or in the red zone. He might also make an impact on special teams, with his speed and strength making him a solid candidate as a gunner.

R5 P132: Brevyn Spann-Ford, TE, Minnesota

With Logan Thomas a likely cut candidate this offseason, a supporting tight end must be brought in. Spann-Ford would be perfect for the role. I would like to see a lot more action from Cole Turner if Thomas is gone after this year, but Spann-Ford could easily take over. A 6-7 tight end who’s limber and has sticky hands, combined with solid blocking, could mold him into a solid TE2 or rotational piece. He’s not a big receiving threat, but can make the occasional play. I think that he can’t and won’t be a game-changing tight end, but can evolve into a solid player who can catch short-to-mid yard gains and block well.

R6 P166: Carson Steele, RB, UCLA

Since Antonio Gibson will likely not return next year because no one can figure exactly what he does and paying a lot of money to someone like that is a Bruce Allen-type move, Washington will need another running back. Brian Robinson is the obvious starter and Chris Rodriguez had had a few moments, but another piece in the puzzle would be helpful. Steele is string and can bounce off tacklers even if he just got decked. He has nice burst and agility, and is a well-rounded player in general. At 6-1 and 216 pounds, he had the frame to break tackles. His speed at his sizes is also a nice commodity. His overall athleticism was a big factor in his success, but it might come into question in the pros, with more explosive or powerful backs like Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry, De’von Achane, or Christian McCaffrey. But a solid, three-down back such as Steele could help this offense’s depth and variety.

R7 P197: Drake Nugent, C, Michigan

A piece of the ultra-powerful Michigan O-line, Nugent will be a good piece for the line, both depth-wise and talent-wise. A nasty lineman who has shown flashes of elite run and bass blocking, he has a high football IQ, able to make calls at the line. He is a good second-level run blocker and has great flexibility, reach, and quickness. I’d like more pass blocking consistency, but he has the potential to evolve into a quality backup who can be thrust into a starting role.