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Commanders fans express confidence in the team’s ability to execute a successful draft strategy this weekend

Survey results!!!

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody and their dog has a poll this week about what position should be drafted or which player a given team should draft or whether or not to trade up or down.

Here at Hogs Haven we go our own way, so in this week’s Reacts survey, we focused on the draft decision-makers. You certainly know the top two names: GM Martin Mayhew and head coach Ron Rivera, and most people are well-aware of Marty Hurney as well. We all know from extensive reporting that dates back to January 2020 that Ron gets the last word on everything football for the Commanders.

Of course, the coordinators and position coaches get input into the draft decisions — or at least the planning — and with some offseason turnover, those voices may be pushing slightly different directions than they did over the past three drafts.

But there are names we don’t hear often who have a huge impact on Washington’s draft. Last year, both Rivera and Mayhew were effusive in their praise for the Senior Director of Player Personnel, Eric Stokes. I get the feeling that, if there’s a future GM on the Commanders’ staff at the moment, Stokes would be the guy.

Director of College Personnel, Tim Gribble, obviously has a lot to do with the draft, and he has worked for the franchise for 22 years.

These guys, together with 11 scouts, comprise the bulk of the group responsible for executing the draft this weekend.

This will be Ron Rivera’s 4th draft in Washington; it is Martin Mayhew’s 2nd as GM of the Commanders. Here’s a snapshot of the players the team has selected in Rivera’s first 3 drafts:

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In the Reacts survey this week, we asked two questions. In the first, we asked you to rate your level of confidence in these decision makers.

Before publishing the survey questions, I was anticipating a fairly even split between those who do and those who don’t have confidence, but reading the comments at the end of that article prepared me for the actual outcome.

As you can see from the graphic, nearly 7 out of 10 people responding to the survey expressed a feeling about the decision-makers that ranged from competence to confidence (3-5). Reading through the comments this week, it became clear that most Hogs Haven members have been reasonably satisfied with the execution of the drafts recently, with last year’s first-round trade being seen in an especially positive light.

In the second poll question this week, we asked what key concerns you had about Rivera, Mayhew & Associates with respect to the draft.

Interestingly, 19% of those responding said that they had no real concerns about the group.

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The concerns that people did vote for were scattered, with 15% worrying that the team would reach for need, while 20% feared that the Washington brass would leave needs unfilled. Other concerns included failing to take positional value into account, incorrectly assessing player’s skills, or not taking chances on high-ceiling players. In short, there was no real consensus around one obvious concern shared by the vast majority of fans, and some fans actually had opposite concerns (i.e., reaching for need vs. leaving roster needs unmet).

Commanders fans have a lot of feelings to sort out. After 24 years of ineptitude and bad intent, the day that many of us thought might not arrive in our lifetimes seems to be imminent — Dan Snyder is selling and leaving the country. A professional ownership group appears poised to take the reins.

Ron Rivera was hired in January 2020 to clean up the culture of the organization and restore its reputation. Interestingly, Riverboat Ron seems to be more respected nationally than he is among the Washington fan base, but that has a lot to do with being 22-27-1, and without a winning season for the burgundy & gold to date. With just 3 winning seasons in 12 years as a head coach, many fans wonder whether it’s time to move on now that the cultural cleanup operation is nearly complete (just one or two last dirtbags to get out the door) in favor of a dynamic head coach who can restore the franchise to it winning ways and put some more trophies on the shelf in Ashburn and fannies on seats in the coming stadium.

With Ron Rivera, Martin Mayhew and Martin Hurney seeming to all be influential in the personnel process, one wonders if the consensus-building required has led to an overly conservative approach with respect to personnel. Washington has been fairly sedate in its salary cap practices, free agency moves and (barring the big swing & a miss with Carson Wentz) with its trade negotiations. It has established itself as a middle-of-the-pack team good for 7 to 9 wins per season.

Despite this, the two areas where fans seem to be ‘on board’ with the triumvirate are (1) giving extensions to proven players like Jonathan Allen, Terry McLaurin and Daron Payne; and (2) drafting pretty competently.

With the 2023 draft set to kick off at 8pm tonight, Washington fans appear to be as relaxed as they have been in years. They seem to be content to sit back and trust Ron Rivera, the Martii, Eric Stokes and Tim Gribble to cook — presumably without interference from anyone “flying in from his yacht” to make the draft picks. This may be the group’s best opportunity to show what they are capable of if left to their own devices without unwanted and unneeded interference from the guy who signs the cheques.

It should be both interesting and fun for the next three days. By Sunday, the Commanders will have a ‘new look’ roster, and the competition for the NFC East championship and a spot in the playoffs will begin in earnest.