Each year, just before the actual draft, enterprising individuals from various SBNation blogs take it upon themselves to organize a site-wide full mock draft, with (ideally) writers/posters from each of the team blogs picking on behalf of their team. This year, I will be picking on behalf of the Washington Commanders and tracking progress here. The draft will take place on Discord.
Think of this draft as a series of thought exercises, not simply a rote duplication of what we can expect come late April in Kansas City. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste. Last year’s exercise can be found here.
3/31 – 8 PM EDT / 5 PM PDT (Round 1)
4/1 – 1pm EDT / 10 AM PDT (Rounds 2-3)
4/2 – 1pm EDT / 10 AM PDT (Rounds 4-7)
This page should be updated in fairly close to real time once the draft begins on 4/1.
Pre-Draft Trade: Washington sends Chase Young to the Texans for pick 33. Rationale: I thought Chase Young was a foolish selection when he was taken at #2 overall, and nothing in the past three years has given me strong reason to re-consider that position. He’s already lost a year and a half to injury, which was one of the chief concerns about investing so deeply in a non-QB pick that high in the draft. Young shouldn’t get his 5th year option here, and this was an attempt to get value while teams are still betting on his potential. I’ve cashed in my chips. The move would save Washington about $5.3M this offseason, which could be used to pursue additional free agents.
Pre-Draft Trade: The SB Nation GM crew is a pretty savvy group, so there aren’t often chances to trade back in the first round. The Saints were looking to move up into the third round, however, and I saw an opportunity to gain some draft value. I sent Washington’s third round comp pick received for Brandon Scherff (#97) to New Orleans for #115 and #121. Per the Rich Hill trade value chart, that was a value capture of around 10 draft points for Washington ((26+23) - 39), equivalent to an extra, mid-5th round pick.
In-Draft Trade: Washington sends 16 and 115 to Jacksonville for 29 and 40. Per the Rich Hill chart this represented a significant value pick up by the Commanders, with 16 (305 pts) and 115 (26 pts) totalling 331 points to Jacksonville’s 351 points. That 20 point surplus to Washington is the value of a mid/late 4th round pick.
In-Draft Trade: Washington sends 118, 121, and 235 to Buffalo for 91.
Round 1, Pick 16 (to Jacksonville)
Round 1, Pick 29 (from Jacksonville)
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Branch certainly wasn’t a position of immediate need, though he quickly becomes Washington’s starting nickel back in 2023. More importantly, with a significant second contract pending for Kam Curl, Branch gives the team flexibility should they decide to move on from him after this season.
Branch is the best safety available in the draft, with comps to Minkah Fitzpatrick, and could make an ideal Buffalo Nickel in Washington’s defense. From Branch’s draft profile:
Overall, Branch is a versatile defensive back prospect who has the ability to make plus-level plays at every alignment. But teams who draft him are also getting a player who plays with intensity and a passion for the game that can help him become an influential team leader.
Not enough love is being given to #Alabama S Brian Branch.— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) February 28, 2023
He’ll have an immediate impact in Nickel coverage. Physical & excels in both zone and man coverage.
Had an insane Sugar Bowl w/ 12 tackles, 4 TFLs, INT
So versatile and NFL ready
Round 2, Pick 33 (from Houston for Chase Young)
Matthew Bergeron, OL, Syracuse
Going into the 2023 draft, there is probably no more apparent “need” than improvement on the offensive line for Washington. That said, as I’ve discussed before, “need” makes people do stupid things in the draft, and teams need to be very careful not to waste draft capital stretching for players when much higher end talent is staring them in the face.
I had hoped to select Darnell Wright (OT) at #29, and he was taken just beforehand by the Titans. No matter, getting Brian Branch, a plug-and-play starter at the end of the first round was great value, and there was still a lot of sneaky talent on the board in round 2, where Washington has three early picks.
One benefit of picking at the very top of Day 2 or Day 3, is that it provides plenty of time to do a deep dive into the players left, and I was able to do just that. I don’t want to reveal too much, as there are two more picks in quick succession, but there’s a lot of high-caliber talent still on the board.
In a draft that has generally been considered to be light on offensive tackle prospects, I was surprised to take a closer look at Bergeron and see that he seems to be a near ideal candidate for Washington.
The Canadian prospect, with massively versatility, would be a great fit given Washington’s current OL situation. During his first two seasons, he started at right tackle for Syracuse, but during his junior and senior years, he was their lock down left tackle. By his senior season, he was also a team captain.
His athletic ability – he has some of the best feet among OL in the draft class – and his high football IQ make him a great for a zone-blocking scheme. He needs to add some strength to improve as a pro-level run blocker, but his instincts are already well-refined.
While some believe he may need to move to guard as a pro – where he has been comped to Joel Bitonio – a number of other talent evaluators believe Bergeron has what it takes to be a pro left tackle. With that upside (and high-end guard downside), Bergeron would be a great fit for a Commanders’ team that already has solid starting tackles and the capacity to be a bit patient with a player of his ability.
Went back to watch more of #Syracuse LT Matthew Bergeron and I’ve come away more and more impressed with his foot speed, grip strength and ability to reset his hands.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) March 11, 2023
Athleticism was always apparent but he’s got a strong punch and quick hands to recover. pic.twitter.com/Yl2hMqhIKH
Auburn DE Derick Hall meet Syracuse OT Matthew Bergeron pic.twitter.com/qq3qMzSzTs— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) February 3, 2023
I was really impressed with Syracuse OL Matthew Bergeron today.— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) March 5, 2023
He’s such a fluid athlete. Very underrated prospect. I think he sticks at tackle but considering how nimble he is, some teams would love to weaponize him at OG for power/counter/G-lead stuff. Love him.
Sheesh. Matthew Bergeron posted a 7.27 3 cone at his pro day.— Billy M (@BillyM_91) March 20, 2023
Round 2, Pick 40 (from Jacksonville)
BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
Only 20 years old, this EDGE rusher has a ton of potential.
From his draft profile:
An underrated aspect of the LSU product’s game is that he varies his pass-rushing plan based on the opponent and has enough tools in his toolset to do so. For example, against Tennessee and Darnell Wright, Ojulari worked the edges more since Wright has a good anchor, but against Ole Miss, he relied more on turning speed to power against the Rebels’ weaker tackles.
If he can improve his use of hands on his finesse moves and add some strength to be more effective when bull-rushing, Ojulari will be a dangerous pass-rusher in the pros. However, his effectiveness against the run is holding his draft stock back.
Schematically, Ojulari might be limited to a stand-up outside linebacker role in odd fronts. He’s just not big and strong enough to put his hand in the ground as a defensive end in even fronts right now. But if a team is looking for immediate pass-rushing help and is willing to be patient with him against the run, he’s worth a mid-to-late first-round pick.
LSU’s BJ Ojulari put on tape high-level get-off and pursuit speed (top 25% out of 4,214 EDGE prospects). Ojulari’s In-Game Athleticism (IGA) Score of 99.2 makes him one of the highest rated EDGE prospects in this draft class. #ReelAnalytics— Reel Analytics (@RAanalytics) March 28, 2023
IGA Score: https://t.co/40hA4AJ0qw pic.twitter.com/JSYW13oqps
Round 2, Pick 47
Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin
From his draft profile:
Two-year starter with the weight room strength and athleticism for work in a variety of run schemes. Tippmann is taller than your average center, but he can bend enough to neutralize at the point of attack. He’s a fluid move blocker who can make wide pulls, climbing cut-offs and adjustments to moving targets in space. He’s recognized for his football intelligence in the pivot and is an effective communicator. He needs to play with better posture and tighter hands to stay mirrored in protection and to improve his body control through engagement. Tippmann’s size, strength, smarts and athleticism should help him become a starter in the NFL.
If you've never watched Joe Tippmann (Wisconsin OC), here's your chance:— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) March 24, 2023
- Extremely fluid mover
- Long arms
- Great feet in the run game
- Enough play-strength to move DL in a zone scheme
If the #Bears value length at center, they'll have their eye on him. Good name to know pic.twitter.com/3W6yfhPaLj
Round 3, Pick 91 (from Buffalo)
Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
From his draft profile:
Williams is a physical and aggressive defender that exhibits an alpha mentality in everything he does on the football field. I love the way he triggers downhill, plays through contact, and finishes. He has the type of mindset and skill to be an asset at the next level in run support. There’s a lot to like about his movement skills and reactive athleticism. Williams is a twitched-up athlete with good short-area quickness, speed, and change of direction skills. I like his ability in zone coverage to cue the backfield and trigger. Williams is disruptive at the catch point and showcases the ability to play through the receiver’s hands to force incompletions while flashing the ability to take away the football. I wish he got more opportunities to play press coverage because he profiles as a standout.
With Williams recovering from an ACL injury, it will be a layer to the evaluation for his next team to be mindful of and his athlete profile will be incomplete. He’s likely to start his rookie season on the PUP list. That said, Williams has the makeup of a starter with the ceiling of an impact starter in a defense that plays to his strengths.
This is another very nice profile of Williams, that comps him to James Bradberry.
Garrett Williams: PLAYMAKER— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 24, 2022
Enjoy the competitiveness #Syracuse DB Garrett Williams plays with and excels using his instincts and ball skills, particularly in zone coverage.— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) March 21, 2023
Trusts his technique, flips his hips w/ease. Recovering from torn ACL, but high upside player worth a Day 2 pick. pic.twitter.com/R2BifPSrbi
Round 3, Pick 97 (to New Orleans)
Round 4, Pick 115 (from New Orleans, to Jacksonville)
Round 4, Pick 118 (to Buffalo)
Round 4, Pick 121 (from New Orleans, to Buffalo)
Round 5, Pick 152
Round 6, Pick 193
Round 6, Pick 215
Round 7, Pick 235 (to Buffalo)
I look forward to your thoughts in the comments below:
The Round 1 draft progression can be found here.
Draft Progression: Round 2
- Steelers - Will McDonald, EDGE
- Commanders - Matthew Bergeron, OT
- Cardinals - Marvin Mims, WR
- Colts - Calijah Kancey, DT
- Rams - Lukas van Ness, EDGE
- Seahawks - Mazi Smith, IDL
- Raiders - Jack Campbell, LB
- Panthers - Cam Smith, CB
- Commanders - BJ Ojulari, EDGE
- Titans - Josh Downs, WR
- Jets - John Michael Schmitz, C
- Packers - Dawand Jones, OT
- Falcons - Jalin Hyatt, WR
- Packers - Sam LaPorta, TE
- Patriots - Clark Phillips, CB
- Commanders - Joe Tippmann, C
- Lions - Emmanuel Forbes, CB
- 49ers - Tuli Tuipulotu, DE
- Buccaneers - Felix Anudike-Uzomah, EDGE
- Saints - Jahmyr Gibbs, RB
- Buccaneers - Nick Herbig, LB
- Bears - Keion White, EDGE
- Chargers - Isaiah Foskey, EDGE
- Lions - Daiyan Henley, LB
- Raiders - Derick Hall, EDGE
- Giants - Andrew Vorhees, OL
- Cowboys - Drew Sanders, LB
- Bills - Trenton Simpson, LB
- Titans - Owen Pappoe, LB
- Steelers - Keeanu Benton, IDL
- Eagles - Siaka Ika, DT
- Chiefs - Blake Freeland, OT
- Bears - Luke Wypler, C
- Falcons - Hendon Hooker, QB
- Broncos - Kelee Ringo, CB
- 49ers - Jaelyn Duncan, OT
- Rams - Tyrique Stevenson, CB
- Rams - Antonio Johnson, S
- Cardinals - Cody Mauch, OT
- Bengals - Jordan Battle, S
- Titans - Kyu Blu Kelly, CB
- Texans - Yasir Abdullah, LB
- Eagles - Julius Brents, CB
- Falcons - Riley Moss, CB
- Patriots - Wanya Morris, OT
- Rams - Zach Charbonnet, RB
- Packers - AT Perry, WR
- Colts -Jartavius Martin, DB
- Broncos - Jaren Hall, QB
- Lions - Tyjae Spears, RB
- Buccaneers - Sydney Brown, S
- Seahawks - Kayshon Boutte, WR
- Bears - Luke Musgrave, TE
- Chargers - DJ Turner, CB
- Ravens - Cedric Tillman, WR
- Steelers - Rashee Rice, WR
- Dolphins - Zack Kuntz, TE
- Vikings - Gervon Dexter, DT
- Cowboys - Zach Evans, RB
- Commanders - Garrett Williams, CB
- Titans - Ricky Stromberg, C
- Panthers - Tucker Kraft, TE
- Texans - Andre Carter II, EDGE
- Chiefs - JL Skinner, S
- Jaguars - Tre’vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB
- Jaguars - Emil Ekiyor, OL
- Browns - Byron Young, DE
- Jets - Jaquelin Roy, DT
- Cardinals - Zaach Pickens, DT
- Broncos - Jay Ward, S
- Dolphins - Warren McLendon, OT