It’s draft day! The months-long leadup to tonight’s 1st round of the NFL draft has been a long process, but we made it, and tonight 31 players will have a new team. The Washington Commanders currently hold the 16th pick in the 1st round, and they could be looking to trade down if they find a partner. If they don’t trade back, the majority of mock drafts have them taking either an offensive tackle or a cornerback.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay both have the Commanders going CB in the first round, but they aren’t in agreement on which corner will join Washington’s defense. Emmanuel Forbes has shot up draft boards in the last few weeks, and several of the mock draft industry’s big names(including McShay) having him going to Washington at #16. Mel Kiper goes with Maryland CB Deonte Banks, and that is another top pick for the Commanders in the final mock draft roundup.
If Washington goes offensive tackle in the first round, Darnell Wright seems to be the most likely pick for them at #16. The Commanders are rumored to be very high on Wright(2nd tackle), and this would be a huge help for an offensive line that had major issues last season. Broderick Jones is also an option that is getting mocked to Washington, and most fans would love to add this bag man to the line.
Washington Commanders 2023 Draft Picks
1st Round: #16
2nd Round: #47
3rd Round: #97 (compensatory pick)
4th Round: #118
5th Round: #150
6th Round: #193
#215 (compensatory pick)
7th Round: #233
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (Draft profile)
Here’s another domino from Richardson going at No. 12. If Washington passes on the tackles, it should go for Banks, a fantastic man-to-man cover guy. He ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash and put up a 42-inch vertical leap at the combine.
Maryland teammate and fellow cornerback Jakorian Bennett got much of the buzz in the fall but Banks put together the type of season that will land him in the first-round conversation. He’s a fluid athlete who is also a big, physical corner who can match up with NFL wide receivers.
Cornerback feels good/correct/adequate for the Commanders, and a local product works nicely. This team will not rock the boat during the draft amid a $6 billion sale — that’s my very strong guesstimate.
They would love to be in position to trade down, and hope to find a taker that is searching for a quarterback or has another reason to move up. Edge rushers and offensive linemen could also be in play, but I see this local product sticking out for the Commanders.
The Commanders badly need cornerback help and can be thrilled to land some from right down the road in College Park, despite the run on the position. Banks has ridden the wave and shot up draft boards as he’s gotten noticed for his own blend of size and natural ballhawking skills that falls in line with the other high prospects at a deep spot.
Round 2: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
Round 3: Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
Another year, another season with the team formerly known as the Washington Football Team finishing in the middle of the pack in the NFL. With Eric Bieniemy revamping the offense, the Commanders can focus on strengthening their middling secondary with Baltimore-area native Deonte Banks, one of the best cover corners in this draft class.
The Washington Commanders had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL last fall, and the selection of Maryland CB Deonte Banks in this 2023 NFL Mock Draft aims to rectify that situation. A late-process riser, Banks is a hyper-athletic cornerback who has the size, fluidity, physicality, strength, and length to patrol the perimeter at the NFL level.
Round 2: Adetomiwa Adebawore, EDGE, Northwestern
Round 3: Tyler Steen, OT, Alabama
Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State (Draft Profile)
There’s a lack of cornerback depth in Washington, and Kendall Fuller is entering the final year of his contract. Forbes is slender at 166 pounds but has really good speed and recognition skills. I thought about Maryland’s Deonte Banks or Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., but Forbes makes more sense because the Commanders mix in a lot of zone coverage — and that’s where he really excels. Oh, and after Washington finished 28th in the NFL in interceptions last season with nine, Forbes’ 14 career picks (and six pick-sixes) would be welcomed.
This is a brutal scenario with offensive linemen going back-to-back-to-back in front of Washington. Signing free agents Andrew Wylie and Nick Gates helps with depth, but the group lacks upside. We tried trading down because O-line and cornerback options exist later in the first, but with no luck. So we considered RB Bijan Robinson and really considered Iowa DE Lukas Van Ness, knowing 2024 uncertainty exists with Chase Young and Montez Sweat.
There are solid DB options here, though, including safety/slot CB Brian Branch … and Forbes, a rail-thin playmaker who holds the FBS record with six interceptions returned for touchdowns. I would have preferred to make this choice a few slots lower, which is something real-life general managers will be saying this year. — Ben Standig
Although his rail-thin body type might scare off some teams, Forbes consistently gets his hands on the football — something the Commanders could use on defense.
The Ron Rivera-led Commanders appreciate ballhawking cornerbacks, and Forbes is the best ballhawk in this draft. He’ll make plays on the ball in zone coverage for Washington.
Forbes is a thin corner, but he held up in the SEC and made a lot of plays. He will add weight to his frame, so I don’t think that will be an issue. He is a smooth cover player, and Washington could use help on the corner.
The skinny on him is he’s 6-1, 166 pounds soaking wet. OK, get him protein shakes and get him in the weight room. He’s a pick-six machine with 4.35 speed.
Washington has a huge hole at cornerback, and Forbes would be a good scheme fit for Jack Del Rio.
Forbes recorded 46 tackles, six interceptions and 10 passes defended during 2022. The 6-foot-1, 166-pounder is an interesting corner who produced a lot of splash plays for the Bulldogs. He needs to grow more consistent on a down-by-down basis and be less of a feast-or-famine player. In 2021, Forbes collected 59 tackles, three interceptions and five passes broken up. The previous season, he had 44 tackles, five interceptions - three returned for touchdowns -, and six passes broken up. Forbes needs to fill out his frame for the NFL because he is dangerously thin and lacking in weight.
Round 2: Steve Avila, C, TCU
Round 3: D.J. Turner, CB, Michigan
Round 4: Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Kentucky
Round 5: J.L. Skinner, S, Boise State
Round 6: Kyle Soelle, LB, Arizona State
Round 6: Ricky Stromberg, LB, Arkansas
Round 7: Antoine Green, WR, North Carolina
The Redskins can’t cover anyone, thanks to William Jackson being a complete bust as a free agent signing. They desperately need someone new to stay with A.J. Brown and CeeDee Lamb.
Emmanuel Forbes is a feast-or-famine cornerback.
Round 2: Tyler Steen, OT/G, Alabama
Round 3: Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
Round 4: Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss
Round 5: Byron Young, DT, Alabama
Round 6: Antonio Mafi, G, UCLA
Round 6: Ronnie Brown, RB, Shepherd
Round 7: Kyle Soelle, LB, Arizona State
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State (Draft Profile)
Porter has just one career interception but was a constant around the ball, producing 17 pass breakups during his time at Penn State. With 34-inch arm length and 4.46 speed, he has the traits to become a lockdown corner in either a zone or man scheme.
I also consistently hear that the Commanders could consider a quarterback at this spot if one falls, but I’m buying the team’s belief in Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett as options for 2023 — especially with the top four gone here.
Round 2: BJ Ojulari, OLB, LSU
Round 3: Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
Round 4: Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pittsburgh
Round 5: Parker Washington, WR, Penn State
Round 6: Will Mallory, TE, Miami-FL
Round 6: Jay Ward, CB, LSU
Round 7: Dante Stills, DT, West Virginia
I think Washington will go with a corner or tackle here, and the Commanders have done plenty of work on Porter, a long, physical, feisty defensive back who fits what Ron Rivera needs in his scheme. He played a lot of ball for the Nittany Lions and should be able to step in right away for the Commanders, who would be putting a lot of faith in Sam Howell (and they do have that faith in him) by passing on Richardson at this stage of the first round. And I did get a little late information that Washington exec Marty Hurney has advocated for Richardson.
Ron Rivera’s previous success with Josh Norman could lead the veteran coach to add this long, rangy corner to the lineup.
The Commanders tab a physical cornerback, taking the son of former Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter.
I think they need a lot of help. I think they need a lot of help on defense. Joey Porter Jr. is right there for them. The other top corners were taken above him. I think they can sit there and wait for Joey Porter Jr., the corner out of Penn State. He’s got good lineage and good length. He’s great with his hands. I thought about giving him to the Patriots. Instead, he falls right there to the Commanders. It wouldn’t surprise me if they went offense with this pick, either. But I think that’s a good value pick.
Porter Jr. has the prototypical frame that defensive coordinators covet, at 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds with the requisite length to match up against top NFL receivers. One of the premier press corners in this year’s class, Porter Jr. was rarely targeted last season, while still breaking up 11 passes. However, as one NFC personnel executive suggests “Joey could slide out of the top-15 because teams are afraid he can’t play off ball.” The Commanders benefit from Porter Jr.’s slide and can start him immediately opposite Kendall Fuller.
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon (Draft Profile)
The Commanders stop Gonzalez’s slide. He’s a long, smooth athlete on the perimeter. He’s what the Commanders need.
He’s got the speed and the size, and if you saw him on the playground, you’d probably take him over Witherspoon. I think he goes higher than this, but he’s the second-best cornerback in this class behind Witherspoon.
The Commanders fill a need with great value, as Christian Gonzalez is a top-10 player on my board.
Round 2: Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
Round 3: Henry To’o To’o, LB, Alabama
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois (Draft Profile)
If Devon Witherspoon dropped this far, Washington would be shoving Roger Goodell toward the podium. I very much doubt he does, but that’s also what I said about Jonathan Allen a few years ago. Weird things happen in the draft, and Rivera would be happy to add an elite talent at a position of need. Regardless, cornerback and offensive line are the heavy favorites at this pick.
Round 2: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
Round 3: Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State
Round 4: Kei’Trel Clark, CB, Louisville
Round 5: Atonio Mafi, OG, UCLA
Round 6: Moro Ojomo, DL, Texas
Round 6: Tyrus Wheat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Round 7: Anthony Johnson Jr., S, Iowa State
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina (Draft Profile)
I am higher on Cam Smith than most. He might be physical in coverage but he is intelligent and made a lot of progress from 2021 to 2022. I want to see if that trajectory continues in the Commanders’ revamped secondary.
Brian Branch, S, Alabama (Draft Profile)
The Commanders could eschew a front-seven player like edge rusher Lukas Van Ness, or the best receiver in the class in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, because their needs are not pronounced in either spot. A safety in the middle of the first round doesn’t seem logical, but this safety will be the kind of versatile player a defense needs on all three downs.
GM Martin Mayhew, a former cornerback himself, addresses the biggest need on the defensive side of the ball for the Commanders. Branch isn’t a “freakish” athlete, but can play anywhere in the secondary and is one of the surest tacklers you will find in a defensive backfield.
It feels like the Washington Commanders are always one of the toughest teams to predict in every NFL Draft, and the 2023 version is no different. Offensive line talent would make a ton of sense here, but adding the best safety in Brian Branch is a good idea too.
Upgrading the strongest part of their team is a very common route taken by the Commanders, but their secondary is the weakest part of that unit. Branch is a sure-fire tackling machine, something that will help him be an immediate starter.
Myles Murphy, EDGE, Clemson
Murphy is one of the youngest prospects in the draft, turning 21 in January. He’s got all the physical gifts required to be a dominant defensive player down the road. Ron Rivera bangs the table for Murphy to either be Chase Young’s pass-rush partner or replacement, depending on how he looks post-ACL tear.
Washington needs outside pass-rush help after declining Chase Young’s fifth-year option.
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
With the decision to decline DE Chase Young’s fifth-year option, the pass-rushing department becomes a larger focus for 2024 and beyond for the Commanders.
While some teams may have an issue with his weight (238), Nolan Smith’s tape is outstanding. Additionally, for a guy who is known more for his pass-rushing skill, he actually plays the run well.
Both Chase Young and Montez Sweat are pending free agents in 2024. Adding Smith wouldn’t just provide depth for 2023, but a potential in-house replacement with all the tools to be a perennial Pro Bowler. The UGA product’s stats don’t jump out at you thanks to his place on a loaded defense, but his combine numbers do. Smith was an absolute marvel, running a 4.39-second 40 at nearly 240 pounds and showcasing the explosion to leave opposing blockers swatting at air.
The Commanders already have strength in their pass rush, but with an unsettled quarterback situation there’s no harm in beefing up the defense. Smith’s draft stock is fluid thanks to his combination of limited college resume (he also missed the back half of his senior season with a torn pectoral muscle) and incredible physical traits. He could go higher, he could go lower, but 16 feels like the right spot for him.
Lukas Van Ness, EDGE, Iowa
With Washington declining Chase Young’s fifth-year option, this might be the perfect spot to add a big, explosive defensive end to groom as Young’s potential replacement in 2024.
The Commanders decided against picking up Chase Young’s fifth-year option, so both Young and Montez Sweat will be free agents next offseason. And given the money the team has already spent across their interior defensive line, it’s highly unlikely both would return. Washington will need to invest in a pass-rusher on a rookie contract, and Van Ness seems like their type.
Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee (Draft Profile)
There’s a good chance Washington will aggressively look to trade back, knowing there are other linemen and players the Commanders like still on the board. However, with Wright, they land a player who is considered physically gifted and has what the Commanders love: position flexibility. They could insert him at left guard or they could put him at right tackle, where he shined this past season. In the latter scenario they would move free agent signee Andrew Wylie from right tackle to one of the guard spots along with Sam Cosmi to form a strong front.
Ron Rivera has voiced his commitment to a run-first offense in 2023, so expect Washington to further embrace its identity through the draft. Displacing defenders at the line of scrimmage is Wright’s forte, and his flexibility to work at either right tackle or guard would give the Commanders flexibility to reshuffle their front.
The Commanders already added Andrew Wylie to lock down the right side of their line and now they’ll hope Wright can do the same on the left. Wright did not allow a sack in his final 19 games in college. The Commanders are doing everything they can to make things easier for Sam Howell, who already has Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson to throw to. Those weapons, plus Howell’s rushing upside make him a low-end QB2 for me, with room to grow.
The Commanders signed Andrew Wylie to a three-year free-agent contract, but both Wylie and Wright have some positional flexibility. Wright is coming off his best season, which he has followed up with impressive performances at the Senior Bowl and combine. The former five-star recruit is a massive right tackle prospect, who has made a total of 42 starts—27 at right tackle, 13 at left tackle and two at right guard.
Washington needs a long-term left tackle prospect, and Wright can fill that void. The massive 6-foot-6 tackle has seen his stock rise during the draft process and can play either tackle spot.
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia (Draft Profile)
The Commanders wouldn’t be too miffed to see Wright go at 15,as they’ll get a versatile player in Broderick Jones. Washington can play him at either tackle spot or at guard and feel comfortable. Given the state of their offensive line, the Commanders could use that kind of versatility — just figure out where the leak is and plug it.
Round 2: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Round 3: Christopher Smith, S, Georgia
Could be a steal to get a possible RT or LT like Broderick Jones who could start immediately.
Round 2: Jartavius Martin, S, Illinois
Round 3: Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
Round 4: Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn
Round 5: Villami Fehoko, EDGE, San Jose State
Round 6: Nick Broeker, iOL, Mississippi
Round 6: Joey Fisher, iOL, Shepherd
Round 7: Ronnie Brown, RB, Shepherd
If Darnell Wright is still available, I’d expect him to be the pick over Jones here. Good chance this pick gets traded.
Round 2: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami
Round 3: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
The Commanders’ current projected starting tackle duo of Charles Leno Jr. (31 years old) and Andrew Wylie (29 at the start of the season) aren’t long-term starting solutions. Jones is a powerful, athletic tackle who adds talent and flexibility to an offensive line that needs to be better than it was in 2022.
Washington needs talent where they can get it. Broderick Jones is an excellent offensive lineman and would immediately give them a great tackle to protect Sam Howell’s (?) blindside.
Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma (Draft Profile)
O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida (Draft Profile)
Torrence might be more of a trade back player for Washington, but I have heard they are fans. Torrence did start at LG as a freshman at Florida, and then at RG for the last three seasons, so he fits the Commanders’ reshuffling. Darnell Wright and Deonte Banks were two other considerations.
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
New ownership(?), a fresh sense of direction and a bold selection! The fastest rising QB in the 2023 draft finds his new home in D.C.
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah (Draft Profile)
I’m told by those in the know that Washington is truly in on Sam Howell, so quarterback isn’t a priority, even if Anthony Richardson or Hendon Hooker is still on the board when the Commanders go on the clock tonight. Kincaid is great after the catch and has medical clearance on his back injury, per teams I’ve spoken to.
Which position should Washington take in the 1st round?
This poll is closed