It’s NFL Combine week so it’s time to check in on some mock drafts before Player X shoots up the board due to his 40 time, or player Y drops due to medicals. Daniel Jeremiah has dropped his latest mock draft, and is following the popular trend of mocking a corner back to the Washington Commanders. His pick for Ron Rivera’s likely last year in charge of the team is Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. who is a top 5 CB in many pre-draft rankings.
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest mock draft the following day. He goes offense for the Washington Commanders, giving them OT Darnell Wright from Tennessee. He mentions moving the "inconsistent" Sam Cosmi to guard and plugging Wright in at right tackle. He also mentions Georgia OT Broderick Jones, but said he has Wright rated higher. Jones gets drafted by the Chiefs at #31 in Kiper's mock draft.
One big name missing from this week’s roundup is Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez who is not dropping to 16 anymore. There are 5 DBs mocked to the Washington Commanders, the question is which one will be there, and will Washington find better value at a bigger position of need like the offensive line.
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
There are 28 mock drafts in this week’s roundup featuring 15* different players, and they address several positions for Washington. The list is getting narrowed down, but we still get a few new names like OLs Cody Mauch and Dawand Jones in the 1st round. There are two trades involving QBs for Washington, and neither one of them is very likely to happen. Ron Rivera trades up to get Kentucky QB Will Levis in one, and he trades the farm to overpay Lamar Jackson in another.
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Washington’s roster has a lot of needs to address, including cornerback. Porter’s value at No. 16 is too good to pass up.
Pro Football Focus(Sikkema)
2022 PFF Grade: 73.2
The Commanders need offensive line help, but with the big three offensive tackles off the board, they look to their biggest defensive need and shore up their cornerback room with the uniquely sized Porter, who is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds.
PFF Draft Guide Bottom Line: Porter is a high football IQ cornerback with the kind of size and physicality everyone is looking for. If he was a slightly better athlete, he’d be a top-10 pick.
Round 2: John Michael-Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Pro Football Network(Hasan)
Joey Porter Jr. is only other top-level cornerback in the draft, and the Washington Commanders find much better value than the Lions did with Gonzalez.
Washington will lose a few defenders in free agency and may lose more next year. They have an issue at cornerback and could remedy that with Porter, who plays with the kind of quickness that made Kendall Fuller such a success at the position. The difference is that Porter is 6’2”.
Round 2: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
HC Ron Rivera is a defense-focused team builder, and the defensive front seven is strong, but after CB Kendall Fuller the secondary is thin.
A physical defender with Richard Sherman-like size (6-2, 196 pounds), Porter feels like the kind of player Rivera would like — although this is a good year at the position: I can see as many as seven corners going in Round 1.
A lot will be determined by the combine.
Round 2: Steve Avila, OL, TCU
Round 3: Carter Warren, OT, Pitt
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
Witherspoon had a great season for the Illini and while there will be questions about his slight frame, you wouldn’t know it to watch him play.
The Draft Network(Sanchez)
The Commanders have spent significant draft capital on the front seven over the past couple years and have neglected the back end. It shows. The Commanders’ secondary is clearly the weak point of this defense and needs to be upgraded. Drafting Devon Witherspoon is a step in the right direction and helps improve this secondary.
Washington needs more cornerback and safety help. Here is a starting corner who could provide a quick upgrade.
Witherspoon recorded 40 tackles, three interceptions and 14 passes defended in 2022. The 5-foot-11, 183-pounder impressed preseason evaluators thanks to having serious speed to go along with adequate size. Advance scouts noted his cover ability, saying he is fast and athletic to run the route to prevent separation. However, team sources don’t like the lack of ball skills and ball production.
Witherspoon had zero interceptions in 2021 after recording two in 2020 and zero in 2019. He also recorded 52 tackles and nine passes defended in 2021. He notched 33 tackles in each of the prior two seasons and two passes broken up over that time. Witherspoon’s ball skills looked improved in 2022, and he could be a riser for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Round 2: Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
Washington could use more starting quarterback options.
Team sources feel Hooker is a good worker with nice size, athleticism and intelligence. The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder has a quality arm alongside the ability to hurt defenses on the ground. At 24, Hooker is older, but that won’t bother teams significantly thanks to his great intangibles.
In 2022, Hooker completed 70 percent of his passes for 3,135 yards, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had 430 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Hooker played well against Florida and LSU, leading Tennessee to some big wins. He was phenomenal versus Alabama, leading the Volunteers to a legendary upset win. Late in the season, Hooker suffered a torn ACL that could delay him in the early going of his rookie season. Hooker broke out in 2021, flashing some ability while completing 68 percent of his passes for 2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns and three interceptions. The Virginia Tech transfer also ran for 620 yards and five touchdowns.
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina
Washington played a healthy mixture of man and zone coverage last season. Cam Smith is a better fit for the scheme. He has good instincts and the physical nature to excel in man coverage.
Round 2: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
The Commanders need to get a force in their secondary after the William Jackson and Kendall Fuller moves didn’t pan out. Smith has fallen a little behind Gonzalez but that’s to Washington’s benefit. He uses his size and physicality well in coverage with a dash of explosiveness.
Round 2: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
Sewell has fallen a little in relation to other defensive prospects but the Commanders know that Cole Holcomb, Jon Bostic and David Mayo are all pending free agents on the second level with bringing back tackle DaRon Payne being the priority. Sewell would still fit their needs well next to Jamin Davis with his active playmaking and ferocious tackling.
The legitimate excitement about the addition of new Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and all the skill players Bieniemy has to work with tends to obstruct the fact that Washington’s defense was a bit of a hot mess last season, and cornerback help is desperately needed. Last season, Smith allowed just 18 catches on 38 targets for 211 yards, 81 yards after the catch, two touchdowns, one interception, and an opponent passer rating of 71.3 He’d be an outstanding fit for whatever it is Jack Del Rio is running at any given time.
NFL Spin Zone (Gurzi)
All the news around the Washington Commanders right now is focused on their new offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy. In an effort to eventually land a head coaching gig, he left the Kansas City Chiefs and will now try and run an offense through Sam Howell.
Of course, they could be one of the teams looking to make a move for a quarterback and while Will Levis is on the clock here, I’m not sold he’s an upgrade over Howell.
With that being the case, Cam Smith from South Carolina is their selection, meaning Bieniemy will have to make his offense work without the benefit of a first-round selection helping him out.
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Kelee Ringo possesses physical attributes with his length and 6-2 height that the Commanders should love. Ringo is a freakish athlete and can cover in zone and man coverage and will step into the CB1 role from day one to start alongside Kendall Fuller.
Brian Branch, CB, Alabama
Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
Pro Football Network(Broback)
Anyone playing linebacker for the Commanders should love their experience. With a defensive line that Washington boasts, playing linebacker can seem easy at times. Still, they need to elevate the talent level at the position.
Trenton Simpson expected success from an early age, so it’s no surprise to see him in the first round of this 2023 NFL Mock Draft. He’s been a star at every level, and now, he gets a chance to do it as a pro. An athletic player, not many plays are off limits with Simpson’s range.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
The Commanders trade up for the Lions #6 pick(no trade compensation listed)
Washington must find an answer at the quarterback position, and they jump ahead of the quarterback-needy Raiders to do just that. Levis has a lot of similarities to the guys Washington has been trying to make work in recent years, but with a higher upside and much younger. They’ve said Sam Howell is their starter going into next season, but that could all just be mind games so they can strike out of nowhere to get their franchise guy.
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Coach Ron Rivera has recently said, “I know this: We will go into OTAs, minicamp and training camp with Sam Howell more than likely QB1, and we’ll see what happens.” As much as I didn’t expect Howell to last until the fifth round last April, it wouldn’t be a shock if the Commanders took a chance on Richardson if he was still available here. Given his size, athletic traits and immense dual-threat upside, Richardson most often draws comparisons to Cam Newton, who won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in Rivera’s first season as a head coach. (To be clear, I’m not projecting that Richardson will win OROY, or even start in this scenario, but Rivera should appreciate Richardson’s potential.)
Pro Football Focus(Chadwick)
Head coach Ron Rivera and new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy notably covet tools at the quarterback position. Rivera was the Panthers’ coach when Carolina drafted Cam Newton in 2011, and Bieniemy had been the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator since Patrick Mahomes became the starter in 2018.
So it only makes sense that if Richardson — who boasts arguably the best tools among quarterback prospects since Newton — falls to this pick, Washington pulls the trigger.
Broderick Jones, LT, Georgia
Washington hasn’t been shy about stating its offensive line needs revamping this offseason. Youth would come in the draft, but Round 1 seemed like a stretch — until one of the top three linemen fell to 16. Moving right tackle Sam Cosmi to guard is on the table, and the agile Broderick Jones could step right in while prepping to eventually shift to the left side down the line. Cornerback, in this case Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, would be the other primary target based on the board followed by tight end. — Ben Standig
Pro Football Network(Pauline)
Washington will surely look closely at cornerback in addition to left tackle. Broderick Jones is a mauling blocker with massive size and strength.
There are major questions at quarterback for Washington, but the offensive line could be just as pressing. Jones is slightly undersized at 6-foot-4, but could still be a plug-and-play tackle.
Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
This is the end of a mini-run on offensive linemen, with four projected in seven picks from Nos. 10 to 16. It’s a really solid class. Wright has the most experience of the bunch. He started 42 games for the Volunteers, with 27 at right tackle, 13 at left tackle and two at right guard. That versatility is attractive to NFL teams, though I expect him to stick at right tackle at the next level.
The Commanders need an injection of talent along the O-line. They ranked 28th in both yards per play on offense (4.9) and yards per rush on offense (4.0) last season. They could move inconsistent 2021 second-rounder Sam Cosmi to guard, which would free up the right tackle spot. Broderick Jones (Georgia) is another right tackle to keep an eye on, though I have him ranked below Wright.
Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
The Draft Network(Parson)
Eric Bieniemy is a former running back and I expect there to be a heavy emphasis on running the football and dominating the trenches—especially with an inexperienced starting QB in Sam Howell. Dawand Jones is a massive human being with nimble feet to move and mirror rushers. Building a stout offensive line is a great step in the right direction.
Cody Mauch, OT, North Dakota State
Mauch’s name pops up routinely when talking to people who attended the Senior Bowl. He was impressive at the event, and if he performs well at the combine and in workouts, he may sneak up into the first round. I haven’t seen a lot of Mauch, who played at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, but while he moves well, I wonder if he’ll be forced to kick inside from tackle. Washington would be fine with that.
O’Cyrus Torrence, G, Florida
The Commanders need help up front, and Torrence has a chance to be a lockdown guard on the interior. Assuming the Commanders are really serious about this Sam Howell thing, they need to build up this supporting cast.
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
The 33rd Team
Dalton Kincaid (scouting report) has some mismatch qualities in the passing game. The Washington Commanders can get the most out of his ability. Pairing him with Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson would be a boost to the Commanders’ passing offense.
Round 2: Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
QB Lamar Jackson
In the blockbuster swap, Baltimore gets this pick(#16, Ravens select CB Cam Smith), Washington’s second-round and third-round picks (No. 48 overall and No. 98) a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2025 second-round selection.
What position should the Washington Commanders select in the 1st round?
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Trade for Lamar Jackson