With the draft just four days away at the time of this writing, the team at BrisVegas Systems are scrambling to install the final updates to the DraftBot’s firmware before the big event. For the final beta test run before the actual draft, I decided to do something a little different from tests 1 and 2.
The 2023 draft is relatively sparse in top-end talent compared to other recent drafts, so there is a good chance more teams will be looking to trade down than up. That could make it challenging for the Commanders to find a partner to trade out of the 16th pick. Therefore, in the final test run, I decided to try out a scenario where the Commanders are seeking to trade back to add more picks but are unable to find a trade partner in the first round.
To put that into practice, I asked my partners at BrisVegas Systems to program the DraftBot to prevent it from trading back in the first round. That turned out to be a little more challenging than envisioned since the version 3.0 DraftBot is decidedly more willful than previous versions and has been fitted with certain coercive technologies as part of its primary mission, which, as you know, I’m not allowed to talk about. We lost a few good technicians (RIP) installing the update, but their sacrifice was worth it to deliver the latest in AI-enabled NFL draft technology.
For the final mock draft before the real one, the DraftBot and I used the Mock Draft Database website Mock Draft Simulator, which I have to say is the best of the three used to date. One key advantage over Pro Football Network and PFF draft simulators is that the free version creates a link to share the full mock draft results that stays live for seven days. It also uses a draft board that seems much closer to the draft projections that the DraftBot’s board was drawn from.
Readers who are interested can view the full mock draft result here, until April 29th. Please note this mock was run before the Aaron Rodgers trade which changes the draft order somewhat.
DraftBot 3.0 Mock Draft
Round 1, Pick 16: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
5-11, 215 lbs, 4.46 sec 40, RAS 9.85
Rushing: 258 att, 1,580 yds, 6.1 yd/att, 18 TD
Receiving: 19 rec, 314 yds, 16.5 yds/rec, 2 TD
The DraftBot was surprised to see Robinson still available at 16, but then it wasn’t surprised at all. It realizes that humans don’t understand the limitations of their own statistics. The conventional wisdom, since the rise of analytics in football, is that good running backs have relatively low impact above replacement and therefore represent poor value in Round 1.
The trap that conventionally minded GMs may fall into when they evaluate Robinson is to consider him as just a running back. He is an unusual prospect in that he is both the best rusher and the best receiving back in the draft class. NFL team sources compare Robinson to a combination of Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey, with the potential to have comparable impact in the league to Marshall Faulk.
In 2022, Robinson ranked second in the NCAA in total yards from scrimmage and third in touchdowns, with 20. The DraftBot is able to think outside the box that humans create for themselves with mental constructs like “position value” and recognizes Robinson for what he is, an elite offensive weapon who transcends usual conceptions of the running back position. It expects him to have a transformational impact on Washington’s offense, even if they don’t solve the QB position this season. You can thank it when he rewrites the record books.
Commanders fans may wonder why the team would draft Robinson, when they already have Antonio Gibson. The DraftBot never lets a good player stop it from drafting a great player. When it’s scouting department tells it the only player they can compare a prospect to is Marshall Faulk, it pulls the trigger and worries about the consequences later. It is confident that the front office will be able to get good value out of Gibson this season one way or another.
Round 2, Pick 47
Cody Mauch, OL, North Dakota State University
6-5, 302 lbs, 5.08 sec 40, RAS 9.33
Commanders Meetings: Senior Bowl, Combine, Pro Day, Zoom meeting
Mauch played offensive tackle for the Bison, but he might need to move to guard with the Commanders, where he will be an absolute beast as a drive blocker in the running game. Mauch plays with a nasty streak and looks to finish off defenders. At North Dakota he showed good ability to get to reach the second level as he opened running lanes for lead back, Hunter Luepke.
Mauch will compete for the starting left guard position in camp and has potential to win the starting job early in his time with the Commanders. He might get opportunities at tackle if he can refine his technique.
Round 3, Pick 97
TRADE: 49ers receive pick 97, Commanders receive 2023 picks 99, 102, 155
49ers pick Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami
Round 3, Pick 99
Jartavius “Quan” Martin, CB/S, Illinois
5-11, 194, 4.46 sec 40, RAS 8.94
51 solo tackles, 13 assists, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 3 INT, 11 PD, 2 FF
Commanders Meetings: Top 30 visit, Senior Bowl, Combine, Pro Day
The DraftBot has been seeking a trade to gain additional picks in the third and fourth round, which it considers to be the peak value region in this draft, and finally received the right offer. In fact, the trade offer could be seen as too good to be true. Two move up two spots to get their guy, CB Tyrique Stevenson San Francisco gives away 43 points of net draft capital, according to the Rich Hill trade value chart, which is worth more than the Commanders’ 97th pick (39 pts) to begin with. The DraftBot has seen the 49ers coming ever since the Trey Lance trade and was happy to take their call.
The DraftBot was relieved that San Francisco didn’t take Quan Martin, a versatile defensive back who played all over the secondary for the Illini. Martin will compete with… well… no one for the third safety position in Del Rio’s defense that was vacated when Bobby McCain was released shortly after the season. He will be the primary nickelback and drop into deep coverage when he’s not covering the slot.
Round 3, Pick 102 (from San Francisco)
Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
6-2, 198 lbs, 4.36 sec 40, RAS 9.80
28 solo tackles, 10 assists, 2 TFL, 2 INT, 7 PD, 1 FF
Commanders Meetings: Senior Bowl, Pro Day
The DraftBot went another direction in the first round, but was able to find value at a top position of need later in this deep CB class. Rush hasn’t received as much attention as his more accomplished teammate, Cam Smith, and represents great value late in the third round. He has good size and athletic traits to play boundary corner and puts them to use challenging contested catches and deep balls. He struggles at time to stay in phase with receiver, which is something he may be able to improve on with further development. He transitioned from wide receiver two years ago and is still learning the fine points of the position. He doesn’t have the short area quickness to cover shifty slot receivers, but is a player who could be tried at deep safety if he doesn’t stick as a boundary corner.
Round 4, Pick 118
Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane
6-1, 228 lbs, 4.49 sec 40, RAS 8.54
81 solo tackles, 51 assists, 8.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 INT, 7 PD, 2 FF
Commanders Meetings: Top 30 visit, Senior Bowl, Pro Day
Williams is a smaller, fast and athletic linebacker who excels in coverage. He was also a team captain at Tulane, which Ron Rivera is sure to like. The DraftBot projects him to play a hybrid weakside linebacker/buffalo nickel role for the Commanders, adding much needed coverage skills to the linebacking group and further extending the position flexibility of Jack Del Rio’s increasingly positionless backfield.
Round 5, Pick 150
Olusegun Oluwatimi, C, Michigan
6-2.5, 309 lbs, RAS 7.86
Commanders Meetings: Senior Bowl, Combine, Pro Day
The Commanders have started four players at center in two consecutive years. With starter Chase Roullier yet again coming back from injury, they have a desperate need to improve depth at the position. Olu, as he likes to be called, is a four year starter at Virginia and Michigan and won both the Outland and Rimington tropies as the best interior lineman and center in college football, respectively. Olu immediately bolsters the Commanders’s depth chart at center, and has potential to push for a starting positing early in his time in DC. He is a great value in the fifth round.
Round 5, Pick 155 (from San Francisco)
Trey Palmer, WR, Nebraska
6-0, 192 lbs, 4.33 sec 40, RAS 6.18
Receiving: 71 rec, 1,043 yds, 14.7 yds/rec, 9 TD
Rushing: 5 att, 75 yds, 15.0 yds/att
Punt Returns: 4 ret, 36 yds, 9.0 yds/ret
Kick Returns: 3 ret, 62 yds, 20.7 yds/ret
Commanders Meetings: Senior Bowl, Pro Day
Palmer is a developmental prospect, with great physical tools and upside at wide receiver. He excels on special teams where he is big-play threat on punt and kick returns, having returned one of each for touchdowns in college. He was used sparingly on returns in his senior year when he became Nebraska’s primary receiver. As a freshman at LSU he averaged 21.7 yards per punt return with one TD, and as a sophomore he averaged 34.4 yards per return on kickoffs with a touchdown.
Joining the Commanders, Palmer will compete with Marcus Kemp, Alex Ericson, Dax Milne and Kyric McGowan for a position on the WR depth chart, while earning an early roster spot on special teams where he can revitalize the lethargic return game.
Round 6, Pick 193
Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati
6-6.5, 248 lbs, 4.69 sec 40, RAS 8.98
Receiving: 32 rec, 326 yds, 3 TDs
Whyle was featured in my fullbacks and H-backs roundup, where he was projected to go in the fourth to fifth round, so the DraftBot was very pleased to find him still available this late in the draft. He is an athletic F tight end who might develop into an option to replace starter Logan Thomas has yet to fully recover from his ACL tear. He was also used occasionally as a lead blocker to good effect at Cincinnati.
Round 6, Pick 215
Hunter Luepke, FB, North Dakota State University
6-1, 236 lbs, 4.61 sec 40, RAS 9.54
Rushing: 98 att, 619 yds, 6.3 avg, 9 TD
Receiving: 14 rec, 196 yds, 14 yd avg, 4 TD, 0 fumbles
As NFL defenses have moved to nickel packages to adapt to the growth of the passing game, linebackers have become fewer, faster and smaller. Offensive coordinators have learned to exploit coverage mismatches with tight ends, big slot receivers and receiving backs.
The DraftBot has detected a new type of mismatch weapon with the potential to overwhelm defenses already struggling to handle these threats. That is the new breed of fullback, functioning as a blocker in the backfield and a complementary weapon in the passing game.
Luepke is a highly athletic fullback who fits the new prototype for the position established by Kyle Juszczyk in Baltimore and San Francisco. He was a featured back for the Bison and lined up as tight end, H-back, fullback and tailback. He is an effective lead blocker and pass blocker, as well as a punishing runner between the tackles who was known for running over defenders and breaking tackles to gain yards after contact. He is also a capable receiver, and frequently made big catches for the Bison on releases downfield when defenders were drawn into the box on play action and in power run looks.
The addition of Luepke and Bijan Robinson creates intriguing new options for Eric Bieniemy to overwhelm coverage units already struggling to handle the Commanders’ trio of wideouts and, hopefully improved TE play. It is confident in Bieniemy’s ability to create with an extensive collection of weapons.
Round 7, Pick 233
Carter Warren, OT, Pittsburgh
6-5, 311 lbs, RAS unavailable
Commanders Meetings: East-West Shrine Bowl
Commanders fans have been begging for more offensive line reinforcements, and the DraftBot delivered. It couldn’t believe that Warren was still available, as it had him rated two to three rounds earlier and only let him slide because it had already drafted two offensive linemen.
Warren has the measurables that teams look for in an offensive tackle but needs to clean up his technique before he could be relied on as a starter. At this point, he could provide a swing tackle option with some potential to eventually develop into a starter. Near the end of the seventh round, he is exceptional value.
Acknowledgement: Edited by James Dorsett
Grade the Bijan Robinson pick
This poll is closed
A+, never pass up a generational talent
C, a bit early for a running back, but I like the player
D, never pick a running back in the first round
E, luxury pick! We are set at RB and have glaring needs elsewhere.
Grade Rounds 2 to 7
This poll is closed
A+, the trade in the third round is worthy of Charley Casserly