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Day 3 of the SB Nation 2023 Mock Draft Extravaganza - The Commanders are nearly on the clock!

It’s almost time for the real thing! Until then, we get the next best thing.

2022 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

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 4/2.

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. This represented a slight loss of value for Washington: 50 - 44 = 6 (about the value of an early 6th round pick).

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.

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.

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.

Round 2, Pick 47

Joe Tippmann, C, Wisconsin

Tippmann is projected as a day 1 starting center in the NFL, and likely the second best center prospect in the draft - after John Michael Schmitz. Tippmann only allowed one sack in two years at Wisconsin, and is strong and athletic enough to play in either a power or zone blocking scheme. His addition allows for the release (or renegotiation) of Chase Roullier’s contract, potentially saving $4.3M in 2023.

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.

Round 3, Pick 91 (from Buffalo)

Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse

Drafting Williams here is a gamble on upside. Without his ACL injury, Williams was likely a first or second round pick. While his knee is likely to keep him sidelined through at least part of his rookie year, if Williams can return to his top form, he could potentially be a starting outside corner for Washington in 2024.

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.

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

Kenny McIntosh, RB, Georgia

Considered by many to be the best third-down back in the draft, McIntosh has relatively few miles on his tires, only getting significant carries during his senior season. He also becomes a plug and play kickoff return man, having averaged more than 27 yards per return since 2020.

From his draft profile:

McIntosh is best suited for a complementary role that allows him to explore the flanks of the offense instead of trying to pound and create between the tackles. He lacks the vision to recognize and exploit opportunities quickly and the elusiveness to dart in and out of developing run lanes. He’s more than capable of finding big runs over the tackles and becomes a more physical finisher as the run progresses. McIntosh has excellent hands and the potential to mismatch coverages when isolated out of the backfield. He could become a RB2 with full-time third-down reps.

Round 6, Pick 193

Charlie Thomas, LB, Georgia Tech

Thomas helped himself at the Combine, where he was the 7th fastest LB tested, but he was already coming off a second team All-ACC season where he posted over 110 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 2 INTs, and 2 forced fumbles. Initially, he projects as a special teamer in the pros, with the opportunity to grow into more in season or two, as opportunities open in the defense.

From his draft profile:

Thomas is an athletic and experienced defender. He plays with a high motor and has a strong nose for the football. He does a good job identifying and locating the ball carrier to make a play. A tackling machine of sorts. Thomas showcases good instincts to diagnose runs versus the pass. He uses the technique “slow until you know.” He displays good patience and control as he reads his keys. As a tackler, Thomas delivers a nice pop on initial contact. His short-area burst is easy to notice when he closes after locating the football. I like his ability to slip and defeat climbing blockers. Thomas’ agility and quickness allow him to take a finesse approach to defeat blocks. He uses his hands to knock away the hands of the blocker when attacking the line of scrimmage. Thomas is an explosive and effective downhill blitzer. I love the keen sense Thomas showcases to forced fumbles (five in his career).

I project Thomas as a SAF/LB hybrid. I believe he can play as a rover defender on passing downs. Currently, he does not meet the weight requirement to play a full-time three-down linebacker. Thomas could fill the role as a big nickel and/or dime defender. His athleticism can shine on special teams and in a designed role as a pass and blitzing defender. A defensive coordinator must have a plan set for how he will use this athletic hybrid defender.

Round 6, Pick 215

Kaleb Hayes, CB, BYU

Here, Hayes was almost entirely a roll of the dice on potential upside. Hayes is one of the freakiest athletes in the draft. Will he be the next Troy Apke, or perhaps something bigger? The reality is, if he turns into either, that’s an excellent use of a 6th round pick.

From a recent write-up on Hayes:

BYU’s Kaleb Hayes is another sixth-year senior, but the cornerback is a little different in that he’s still full of potential based on how he entered the collegiate ranks.

The Oregon State Beavers recruited Hayes as an athlete after he played quarterback, wide receiver and running back in high school. He took a redshirt season in 2017 before the transition to cornerback truly began.

“I didn’t even know how to backpedal,” Hayes joked in a 2021 interview with Fan Nation’s Casey Lundquist.

Injuries wrecked Hayes’ redshirt sophomore campaign before he chose to transfer to BYU. In doing so, he joined one of the nation’s better defenses and continued to hone his craft. But the defensive back’s athleticism is what allowed him to play relatively well at such a demanding position.

At BYU’s pro day, the 5’11”, 196-pound Hayes blazed an unofficial 4.31-second 40-yard dash. His lower-body explosivity can also be found in his jumps with a 40-inch vertical and 10’8” broad jump.

Only three cornerbacks at the combine posted a sub-4.4 40-yard dash and a 40-inch vert, and two of them—Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez and Maryland’s Deonte Banks—are projected as first-round picks.

“I think we knew that he had a lot of explosiveness and athleticism,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said, per the Deseret News’ Jay Drew. “He worked really hard. He looks great, too. He is still raw, meaning that there is more he can accomplish. It was good to have the scouts see that.”

Round 7, Pick 235 (to Buffalo)


Jake Witt, OL, Northern Michigan

Could Witt, a converted TE at a D-II school be the next Jordan Mailata? Some people in the know seem to think it’s possible. It’s expected he’ll be drafted in a few weeks. Grabbing him here is a steal.

Puka Nacua, WR, BYU

Referred to by at least one scout as a “Discount Deebo Samuel,” Pacua is a wide receiver who makes his living on yards after the catch. He’s a raw route runner, but an ideal fit for a Shanahan-type offense, and I think he would be an excellent puzzle piece in Bieniemy’s offense as well.

From his draft profile:

Expectations for Nacua should be that of an immediate role player on an NFL roster. Wide-receiver-hungry teams should be able to find reps for him quickly on offense but all 32 teams would welcome his physicality and abilities. This player has the feel of a future NFL starter, although the timeline will be predicated on the offense he lands in and how strong the fit is for his immediate strengths and what he’s being asked to do.

Xazavian Valladay, RB, Arizona State

I knew nothing of Valladay going into this exercise. Watching his game film, I really like what I saw.

From his draft profile:

Ultimately, Valladay has many likable traits as a runner, but his value as running back will vary from team to team. Valladay will be best utilized in an outside running scheme where he can use his best asset: his speed. Valladay’s usage in the passing game has been minimal, but if he can prove to have value running routes and being a receiving threat out of the backfield, it will further help his value as a player in the NFL.

Hunter Luepke, FB, North Dakota State

Washington secures the best FB in the draft.

Arquon Bush, CB, Cincinnati

Washington has had some good luck with DBs from Cincinnati. Let’s grab another.

From his draft profile:

Bush’s versatility once again separates him from the rest, and that along with his play style will help him to still gain opportunities amid his struggles, particularly on special teams. I believe he still provides great traits that can help a team win in crucial situations, and due to his versatility and some of his better traits as a defensive back such as ball skills and length, I believe he can sneak into the fifth round.

Trevor Nowaske, LB, Saginaw Valley State

From his draft profile:

On the field, the Cardinals coaching staff asked the outside linebacker to drop into space, kick over the slot at times, set the edge and play downhill. Nowaske led the team with 98 total tackles, four interceptions and seven pass breakups. He also plays a physical brand of football that overwhelmed other Division II talent.

A linebacker capable of doing all of those things coupled with elite athleticism tends to find a way onto a roster, even if it’s just as a core-four special teams contributor.

Henry Byrd, G, Princeton

From Byrd’s draft profile:

A multi-sport athlete — including tap dance and lacrosse — Henry Byrd demonstrates rare body awareness for an OT prospect who wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine. After starting early in his career at tackle, Byrd continued to play high-level football for the Ivy program before finishing in 2022 with unanimous all-conference recognition for his play.

With that comes an athletic frame, including a 4.67-second short shuttle and 32 bench reps. Byrd is a high-ceiling player that could hear his name on Day 3.

Brayden Willis, TE, Oklahoma

Noah Ruggles, K, Ohio State

I look forward to your thoughts in the comments below:

The Round 1 draft progression can be found here.

The Round 2-3 draft progression can be found here.

Draft Progression: Round 4

  1. Bears - Darius Rush, CB
  2. Jets - Tyler Steen, OT
  3. Cardinals - Olu Oluwatimi, OL
  4. Falcons - Noah Sewell, LB
  5. Patriots - Kei’trel Clark, CB
  6. Giants - Jayden Reed, WR
  7. Raiders - Jammie Robinson, DB
  8. Panthers - Henry To’oTo’o, LB
  9. Eagles - Tank Dell, WR
  10. Eagles - Sidy Sow, OL
  11. Chiefs - Parker Washington, WR
  12. Panthers - Zach Harrison, DE
  13. Jaguars - Kendrick Whitehead, S
  14. Packers - Jaylon Jones, CB
  15. Patriots - Xavier Hutchison, WR
  16. Bills - Colby Wooden, DL
  17. Vikings - Eli Ricks, CB
  18. Steelers - Demarvion Overshown, LB
  19. Bills - Jarrett Patterson, C
  20. Chiefs - Isaiah McGuire, EDGE
  21. Seahawks - Mekhi Garner, CB
  22. Cardinals - Devon Achane, RB
  23. Ravens - Cameron Mitchell, CB
  24. Browns - Dorian Williams, LB
  25. Buccaneers - Karl Brooks, EDGE
  26. Broncos - Dylan Horton, EDGE
  27. Cowboys - Ji’Ayir Brown, S
  28. Texans - Cam Jones, LB
  29. Bengals - Jonathan Mingo, WR
  30. Colts - Tyler Scott, WR
  31. Bears - Mike Morris, EDGE
  32. Titans - DeWayne McBride, RB
  33. Patriots - Derrick Parrish, EDGE

Round 5:

  1. Bears - Chris Smith, S
  2. Texans - FORFEITED
  3. Packers - Tanner Mckee, QB
  4. Colts - Sean Tucker, RB
  5. Broncos - Trey Palmer, WR
  6. Browns - McClendon Curtis, OL
  7. Raiders - Jakorian Bennett, CB
  8. Browns - Daniel Scott, S
  9. Jets - Joey Fisher, OL
  10. Eagles - Josh Whylie, TE
  11. Colts - Chandler Zavala, OL
  12. Steelers - SKIPPED
  13. Colts - Davis Allen, TE
  14. Bears - Tank Bigsby, RB
  15. Packers - John Gaines, OL
  16. Commanders - Kenny McIntosh, RB
  17. Seahawks - Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB
  18. Lions - Jake Haener, QB
  19. Dolphins - Moro Ojomo, DL
  20. Seahawks - Kendrick Miller - RB
  21. Vikings - Chase Brown, RB
  22. Chargers - Keondre Coburn, DT
  23. Ravens - Roschon Johnson, RB
  24. Broncos - Israel Abanikanda, RB
  25. Falcons - Nick Broeker, OL
  26. Giants - Brandon Joseph, S
  27. Raiders - Asim Richards, OL
  28. Chiefs - Rakim Jarrett, WR
  29. Rams - Yaya Diaby, EDGE
  30. Cowboys - Ali Gaye, EDGE
  31. Bills - Brodric Martin, DL
  32. Ram - Byron Young, DL
  33. Jets - Marte Mapi, LB
  34. Steelers - Eric Gray, RB
  35. Dolphins - Ivan Pace, LB
  36. Dolphins - Villami Fehoko, DL
  37. Falcons - Deuce Vaughn, RB
  38. Rams - Alex Forsyth, OL

Round 6:

  1. Kansas City - Keaton Mitchell, RB
  2. Miami - Bryce Ford Wheaton, WR
  3. Arizona - Andrei Iosivas, WR
  4. Tampa Bay - Jake Moody, K
  5. Las Vegas - Atonio Mafi, G
  6. Detroit - Ronnie Bell, WR
  7. New England - Aubrey Miller Jr., LB
  8. Philadelphia - Kobie Turner, DT
  9. Tennessee - Quindell Johnson, S
  10. New England - Even Hull, RB
  11. Houston - Dontay Demus Jr., WR
  12. LA Rams - Nick Saldiveri, OT
  13. Cleveland - KJ Henry, DE
  14. LA Rams - Dee Winters, LB
  15. New England - Isaiah Land,Edge
  16. Washington - Charlie Thomas, LB
  17. Detroit - Anthony Bradford, OL
  18. Denver - Jake Andrews, C
  19. Tampa Bay - Mohamed Ibraham, RB
  20. Miami - Ronnie Hickman,S
  21. Tampa Bay - Michael Wilson,WR
  22. Baltimore - Jose Ramirez,Edge
  23. LA Chargers - Charlie Jones,WR
  24. Houston - Ahofitu Maka,C
  25. Miami - Jordan McFadden,OT
  26. Houston - Troy Brown,LB
  27. Las Vegas - Luke Schoonmaker,TE
  28. Miami - Darrell Luter Jr., CB
  29. Jacksonville - Chris Rodriguez,RB
  30. New York Jets - Malik Cunningham,QB
  31. Miami - Payne Durham,TE
  32. New York Giants - Juice Scruggs,C
  33. New England - Cameron Young,DT
  34. Miami - Tavion Thomas,RB
  35. Dallas - Nesta Jade Silvera,DT
  36. Arizona - John Ojukwu,OT
  37. Tennessee - Tyson Bagent,QB
  38. Washington - Kaleb Hayes, CB
  39. Minnesota - Ben Van Sumeran,LB
  40. Tennessee -Jalen Moreno-Cropper,WR

Round 7:

  1. Chicago - BJ Thompson,DE
  2. Philadelphia - Mohamoud Diabate,LB
  3. Atlanta - Steven Gilmore,CB
  4. Indianapolis - Nikko Remigio, WR
  5. Pittsburgh - SKIPPED
  6. LA Rams - Clayton Tune,QB
  7. Atlanta - Thomas Incoom, DL
  8. Tennessee - Nick Hampton,Edge
  9. Jacksonville - Thyrick Pitts, WR
  10. Jacksonville - Johnny Buchanan, LB
  11. Tennessee - Titus Leo, Edge
  12. Cleveland - Terrell Smith, CB
  13. Houston - Jack Colletto, FB/LB
  14. Miami - Habukkuk Baldanado, Edge
  15. Green Bay - Matt Landers ,WR
  16. Buffalo - Cam Latu ,TE
  17. Pittsburgh - SKIPPED
  18. Buffalo , Ryan Hayes, OT
  19. Indianapolis - Desjuan Johnson, Edge/DL
  20. Houston - Connor Galvin, OT
  21. Jacksonville - SKIPPED
  22. LA Chargers - Richard Gouraige, OT
  23. Denver - Devonnsha Maxwell, DL
  24. Pittsburgh - SKIPPED
  25. Green Bay - Scott Matlock, DL
  26. New York Giants - Carter Warren, OT
  27. Dallas - Tre Hawkins III, CB
  28. New England - Isaiah Moore, LB
  29. Cincinnati - Ventrel Miller, LB
  30. Denver - Keidron Smith, CB
  31. Philadelphia - Stetson Bennett IV, QB
  32. Kansas City - Rezjohn Wright, CB
  33. Kansas City - Lance Boykin, CB
  34. LA Rams - Chad Ryland, K
  35. Tampa Bay - Mehki Blackmon, CB
  36. Denver - Amari Burney, LB
  37. New York Giants - Dante Stills, DL
  38. San Francisco - Max Duggan, QB
  39. Buffalo - Montrae Braswell, CB
  40. New Orleans - Caleb Murphy, DE
  41. Chicago - Dontayvian Wicks, WR
  42. Houston - Holton Ahlers, QB