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Washington Commanders NFL Draft Rumors Tracker: Chase Young trade?; Sam Howell is the man

It’s still lying season

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The NFL Draft kicks off at 8pm tonight, and is being held in the home of the 2022-23 Super Champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Washington Commanders entering this year’s draft with 8 picks, but that number is expected to change. They hold the 16th overall pick, but there has been plenty of smoke about their interest in trading down for the second year in a row. GM Martin Mayhew discussed trading up and down in the draft, and said trading down has usually worked out better for him.

The big pre-draft story for Washington was declining the 5th-year option for DE Chase Young who tore his ACL in his second season. Young returned to play 3 games last year, but was nowhere near the level of his Pro Bowl, Defensive Rookie of the Year season. Washington now enters tonight’s draft with no edge rushers under contract after this season. There has been speculation about Washington trading Young, or Montez Sweat, during the draft, but that seems unlikely unless a team overpays.

Quarterback has been an issue in Washington since Kirk Cousins left in free agency, and that could continue this year. Ron Rivera will have his fourth new Week 1 starter in September, and the team wants that to be Sam Howell who is entering his second season with the team. Howell got his first regular season start in a Week 18 win over the Dallas Cowboys. He was named the starter going into the offseason, but Washington also signed veteran Jacoby Brissett to a 1-year deal. They are unlikely to take a QB in the first round, but one Washington exec has reportedly been advocating for one player.

Trading Chase Young/Montez Sweat

Another team to watch for potential trades is the Washington Commanders. Edge rusher Montez Sweat is heading into his fifth-year option season and has yet to have his contract extended beyond 2023. Fellow edge rusher Chase Young will not have his fifth-year option for 2024 exercised, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday. The decision to not pick up Young’s option leaves Washington with two possible free agent defensive ends next offseason, and trading one of them could be the answer. — Graziano

Trading down

The Commanders, I’ve heard, have discussed trading back. One name to watch if they do is one I gave you in last night’s notes, and that’s Mississippi State’s feisty, slight star corner Emmanuel Forbes. As we said, he’s done really well through the process, with his 6’1”, 166-pound frame standing as the one drawback.

Emmanuel Forbes

The consensus has been to project the Washington Commanders to take a cornerback in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, which is definitely a strong possibility. Washington loves Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, but knows he will be long gone. Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez could also be gone by pick No. 16, but if he makes it there, the Commanders could easily end the fall. Sources say that Washington likes Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes more than Joey Porter Jr. Forbes is a candidate at for the Commanders with the 16th pick of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Sam Howell/Draft a QB

While we’re there, I mentioned the Commanders and quarterbacks in the mock this morning, and I’d reiterate that I really don’t see them taking one Thursday night. They’re very solidly behind Sam Howell as starter, and the path to getting there went all the way back to camp last year—with top exec Marty Hurney among those early to tell others the team felt like it struck gold in the fifth round. I’m usually skeptical in these situations. But Washington’s rolling with Howell.

Anthony Richardson interest

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.

Hendon Hooker interest

They believe in quarterback Sam Howell enough that it’s unlikely they will trade up for a quarterback, especially not into the top 10. It’s also unlikely they’ll draft a quarterback in the first round, unless a top guy unexpectedly falls into their lap. The Commanders like Hendon Hooker (Tennessee), though, and if he’s sitting there in the second or third round, I could see them drafting him. They are reluctant to relinquish a lot of draft capital and would rather use that to build out the roster around Howell. If he fails, the organization can try again next year with a stronger squad around a new quarterback. — John Keim

Other OT/CB targets

Commanders have studied the top offensive linemen in the class. Offensive tackle is a possibility in Round 1. Dawand Jones (Ohio State) is a name I keep hearing in connection with the team, which has done a lot of work on his evaluation. While the middle of Round 1 might seem high for Jones right now, don’t be surprised if he lands in that range. Cornerback is another area the Commanders could address, potentially on Day 2. I’ve heard they are high on Kelee Ringo (Georgia). Coming into the 2022 season, Ringo was viewed as a potential first-round pick, but he’s likely to fall to Round 2 now. He would fit well in Washington’s zone-heavy scheme, playing on the other side of Benjamin St-Juste. — Reid

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