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2024 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: ESPN gives Sam Howell and the Washington Commanders some big help

What do the mockers think Washington needs next year?

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Penn State at Illinois Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023-24 season showed some promise with a 2-0 start following wins over the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos. Reality hit pretty quickly and Washington is sitting at 4-9 coming off their bye week. Ron Rivera has been a dead man talking for weeks, and he’s got four more games to go in Washington. Sam Howell has had the entire season to prove that he can win and be the franchise quarterback for the Commanders. The results have been mixed, and Howell has not been “lighting it up” in his last few games.

The Washington Commanders currently sit with the 4th overall pick, and some big upsets this week helped them maintain that spot, and get an edge to keep it over the last month of the season. They have a chance to move up a spot or two(with a lot of help), and could drop down a few more spots, but likely stay in the top 10. They will need to start winning to drop, and their final four games are against the Rams, Jets, 49ers, and the Cowboys.

The middle of December usually means that I’ve already switched over from scouring the internet for NFL Power Rankings to looking into draft position and mock drafts. Power rankings took a hiatus weeks ago, and now it’s time for some mock drafts as we prepare for Black Monday. New Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris is expected to clean house, hire a GM, and then work on rebuilding the team with a new coaching staff. The new GM will likely have a top 5 pick, and 5 picks in the top 100 thanks to the trades of Montez Sweat and Chase Young. They will also have $90 million or more in salary cap space to work with, but we’re focusing on the draft today, and what the early projections are for Washington next year.

ESPN’s Matt Miller dropped a new mock draft this morning, and he’s got Washington taking a player that a lot of fans would be very happy with. Penn State’s Olumuyiwa Fashanu is considered one of the top tackle prospects in a loaded draft class. He would be considered an upgrade over current starter Charles Leno, and would be expected to be a Day 1 starter if he was draft by Washington’s new GM/HC. Sam Howell would get protection that he probably wished he had this year after getting sacked 58 times in 13 games.

Miller used ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) — which projects when each team might be picking based on simulations of the rest of the season — through Week 14’s Sunday games. This gave Washington the 5th overall pick, even though they currently sit at #4. In Miller’s mock, three of the top QBs(Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels), and potentially the best player in the draft(WR Marvin Harrison, Jr.) go before Washington gets to the podium. This gives them their choice of tackles, tight ends, defensive ends, or most other positions.

Most of these mocks have the Washington Commanders picking at #4, but there are a few like Miller’s that have them in the #5 spot. There is one trade down, that sees Washington trading down to #8, and picking up a 3rd, a 5th, and a 5th next year. The #8 pick would also help Sam Howell out this year, and the three 2nd round picks give him some OT help and double-dip at the EDGE position to replace Sweat and Chase. Or they could just go EDGE at #4 and watch the fanbase explode...

Washington Commanders 2024 NFL Draft picks*

Round 1(#4)

Round 2(#36)

Round 2 (#42 from CHI)

Round 3 (#68)

Round 3 (#100 from SF)

Round 4 (#104)

Round 5 (#138)

Round 6 (#180)

Round 7 (#222)

(*Projected via Tankathon)

Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State

ESPN+ (Miller)

First-year starting quarterback Sam Howell has likely shown enough bright spots for the Commanders to build around him for at least one more season. But they can’t keep this current offensive line intact with Howell on track to set the single-season sacks taken record (58 in 13 games).

Fashanu is a smooth-moving left tackle who has allowed one sack all season at Penn State. The 20-year-old junior is still developing, but he has Laremy Tunsil-like potential.

The Athletic(Brugler)

When ranking the Commanders’ greatest needs, offensive tackle isn’t at the very top. But the position hasn’t been a strength, and it would be tough to see the organization passing on a cornerstone left tackle — something it hasn’t had since Trent Williams.

Though he needs to continue developing as a run blocker, Fashanu, who played his high school ball 10 miles from FedEx Field, is outstanding in pass protection with his body movements, angle awareness and ability to sit down versus power.

CBS Sports (Trapasso)

The Commanders would have a major decision to make here: go Caleb Williams, pick a stellar offensive tackle prospect, or trade down. In this mock, they go with the brick-wall blocker from Penn State who boasts All-Pro upside.

CBS Sports (Edwards)

Washington made a great decision to sign Charles Leno Jr. when Chicago threw him out of the building like Uncle Phil did Will but Leno turns 33 in 2024 and the franchise may need to turn the page.

USA Today(Middelhurst-Schwartz)

Bringing Caleb Williams back home was always going to be a stretch for a Washington team that seemed just good enough to earn a few wins, putting the top pick out of reach. Still, not a bad consolation prize if the Commanders can reel in Fashanu, Williams’ former high school teammate and the most promising pass protector in this class. While there will be an undeniable learning curve for a blindside protector who will only be 21 as a rookie, the 6-6, 317-pound blocker should help Washington better safeguard – and evaluate – Sam Howell, who ranks second in passing yards (3,466) but leads the NFL with 14 interceptions and 58 sacks.

The 33rd Team(Livesay)

We went with the same selection of Olu Fashanu last week for the Washington Commanders, and the more I think about it, the more I love the pick for the Commanders. Sam Howell is the most sacked quarterback in the NFL, and while it’s not certain he’s the long-term answer at quarterback, changing the protection in front of him is the first step to figuring that out.

The Messenger(Renner)

He’s one of the best pass-protecting left tackle prospects I’ve ever scouted. Fashanu is so agile and explosive for a nearly 320-pounder that there’s little question about how he’ll fare against better athletes at the next level. In two years as a starter, Fashanu never allowed a sack; Sam Howell desperately needs that kind of blindside security.

Tankathon


Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

San Diego Union~Tribune(Brown)

The Commanders haven’t had a franchise left tackle to build around since Trent Williams. The massive Irish tackle (6-8, 315) continues piling up All-American honors after another successful season in South Bend and is likely the best prospect at the position since Penei Sewell in 2021.

Walter Football(Campbell)

The Commanders need more offensive line talent.

Alt (6-7, 317) broke into the starting lineup at left tackle as a freshman in 2021 and has remained on the blind side ever since. He started out his career playing some tight end for Notre Dame before settling in at left tackle. Alt is big with long arms, has good strength in the upper body, uses his hands well, and has good technique. Alt has been consistent and productive. However, he has issues with his anchor because he is stiff and doesn’t bend well. That lack of bend will be challenging to fix given how tall Alt is.


J.C. Latham, OT, Alabama

Walter Football

The Redskins have a major blocking issue that isn’t giving Sam Howell much of a chance at times. Improved blocking is needed.

J.C. Latham has the power to start at guard and athleticism to be a tackle.


Caleb Williams, QB, USC

Pro Football Network (Valentino)

Finally, with Dan Snyder gone, the Washington Commanders catch a break. While Sam Howell has produced some good moments, he’s looked like a former fifth-round pick too often to pass on Williams. The next regime in Washington would be insane to pass on Williams.

The most dynamic playmaker to enter the NFL since Josh Allen, Williams has everything needed to be a fantastic starter for years to come. His off-script ability is well-known, but his decision-making prowess and feel for the game are vastly underrated.


Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

NFL Mocks (Haas)

This mock draft will not have any trades, which gives the Commanders a realistic shot at the second quarterback off the board. With the Bears taking Marvin Harrison Jr., the Patriots taking Caleb Williams, and the Cardinals taking Olu Fashanu, that leaves a North Carolina quarterback as the replacement for a former North Carolina quarterback.

Maye, unlike Howell, stands at a physically imposing 6-foot-4 and weighs 229 pounds. He checks the boxes in measurements, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The Tar Heel star has an impeccable deep ball, is a surgeon from within the pocket, and boasts deceptive agility as a runner in space.

He has long strides that eat up yards when Maye tucks and runs, and his improvisation skills outside the pocket are something to marvel at. The young signal-caller flashes elite ball placement more often than not, and although his interception total in 2023 (9) is concerning, the overall decision-making is great.

The Commanders must upgrade the offensive line to make the most of Drake Maye. I understand fans that have grown to love Sam Howell, but it would be hard to pass up a higher-upside option if Maye is sitting there at No. 4 overall. Washington hopes to never select this high again, so there’s no better time to attack the quarterback position than now.

Round 2: Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

As I said earlier in the mock draft, the selection of Drake Maye won’t matter if the Commanders fail to upgrade the offensive line. Patrick Paul, a long-time starter in college, is the ideal start to a full retooling of the unit.

Paul can play tackle or guard at a high level, but I have him graded higher on the outside. The Houston alum is 6-foot-7 and weighs 315 pounds, utilizing his impressive wingspan to thwart pass rushers off the edge. He has plenty of power in his lanky frame, too, serving as a solid piece in the running game.

Paul must add some more weight to his frame and learn to consistently keep his pad levels low. Too often, when he loses a rep, it’s due to poor leverage against his assignment. With NFL coaching, I expect Paul to iron out these issues and become an instant starter in Year 1. He will be tasked with protecting Maye’s blindside.

Round 2: Cooper Beebe, Guard, Kansas State

But wait, there’s more! While the pass-rushing unit needs a facelift after the departure of Montez Sweat and Chase Young, the value was too good to not select Cooper Beebe out of Kansas State. Beebe is the top-rated guard on my Big Board, profiling as a future All-Pro at the position.

He displays a unique blend of power and finesse. Pancakes litter his tape in the running game, while his deceptive agility, including teach tape footwork, allows him to get out in space and create lanes in the second level.

As a pass protector, Beebe is at his best. In 1,445 pass-blocking reps since 2021, the Wildcat star has only allowed one sack. If that sounds absurd, that’s because it is. With the Commanders, Beebe and Paul can revitalize the unit and give Maye ample time to target an impressive arsenal of weapons.


Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

CBS Sports (Wilson)

I know that Sam Howell is the Commanders QB and that he’s had a solid Year 2 while showing signs of real growth. But there’s also a pretty good chance new ownership is looking for a new coach, and often new coaches like to have “their” quarterback too. No player improved more this fall than Daniels, whose game reminds me a lot of Lamar Jackson.

DraftKings Nation(Simon)


Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Pro Football Network (Miller)

Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Trade: Tennessee sends pick No. 8, pick No. 39, pick No. 148, and a 2025 third-round pick. The Commanders send pick No. 4.

In this simulation, we’re projecting Eric Bieniemy as the Commanders coach in 2024. Hailing from the Andy Reid coaching tree, there should be no question concerning whether or not he should be able to maximize a tight end prospect as talented as Brock Bowers.

Bowers is incredibly versatile. Put the ball in his hands in the run game and in the screen game. He’s surprisingly elusive as a runner, endlessly explosive, and impressively powerful. But he is also an outstanding route runner, using his frame and athleticism very effectively.

Round 2: Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona

The Commanders have three of the next five picks, so they attacked the position they thought was thinning out, and one that the next few teams may have looked at.

Jordan Morgan was a potential first-round pick last season before tearing his ACL. He returned in 2023 and was fantastic, but he’s admittedly gotten lost in a ridiculously talented class. But his relative loss is the Commanders’ gain at left tackle.

Round 2: J.T. Tuimoloau, EDGE, Ohio State

There are a lot of sad situations along NFL rosters, but a defensive end unit consisting of James Smith-Williams, Casey Toohill, KJ Henry, Andre Jones Jr., and Jalen Harris is enough to terrify even the most desensitized horror film fans.

We have no idea who will be leading the Commanders’ defense next season, but for this exercise, we’re assuming they will implement a similar scheme on that side of the ball.

J.T. Tuimoloau has a long way to go as a pure pass rusher, but his power output is outrageous, and he’s insanely explosive for his size. He lacks bend, but the Ohio State defensive end plays with great leverage as a run defender.

Round 2: Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington

Bralen Trice isn’t too different from Tuimoloau in the grand scheme of things. However, because the Commanders have Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne on the roster, they do not solely rely on the edges for their pass rush.

DraftWire(Popejoy)

The emergence of Sam Howell has been impressive and he could really use a weapon like Brock Bowers.


Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Pro Football Network (Broback)

There are a few picks that make a ton of sense based on attitude and prospects available. The Commanders’ defensive line needs to replace two big-time players on the edge, and they can start that process by drafting Dallas Turner.

Turner’s a bully on the field, often displaying his power and competitive nature to get after his matchup. He’s a physical defender who’s always looking to send a message, and the Commanders need an infusion of his talent and effort into their defense.


Poll

Which player should the Washington Commanders take in the 1st round?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Olumuyiwa Fashanu, OT, Penn State
    (932 votes)
  • 14%
    Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame
    (277 votes)
  • 0%
    J.C. Latham, OT, Alabama
    (10 votes)
  • 8%
    Caleb Williams, QB, USC
    (167 votes)
  • 3%
    Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
    (58 votes)
  • 3%
    Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
    (59 votes)
  • 2%
    Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
    (54 votes)
  • 0%
    Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (16 votes)
  • 15%
    Trade down!
    (283 votes)
1861 votes total Vote Now