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What grades did the Washington Commanders get on Day 2?

Solid picks or missed opportunities?

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NFL Combine Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

There is a long tradition of people giving draft picks a grade less than 24 hours after they’ve been made. Some of them are spot on after the players have shown who they are after a few years in the league, and some of them look pretty bad. A lot of graders get stuck on their personal rankings, and will tank a player’s selection because of that. How a player fits with a team, and their needs plays a big part here as well.

The Washington Commanders addressed one of their projected needs in the first round on Thursday night by taking Mississippi State CB Emmanuel Forbes. They got knocked by a lot of people for passing on CB Christian Gonzalez who went one pick later to the New England Patriots. Washington had Forbes rated higher, and they wanted a ballhawk who produced in a big conference(SEC).

One of the biggest knocks on the Ron Rivera/Martin Mayhew regime is that they are taking players earlier than their consensus rankings. Most people like the players and their fit, but the value is not there, and this will affect grades, and how they are viewed throughout their careers. Obviously if these players come in and make an impact right away their draft position will take a back seat.

That’s not going to score well in the NFL Draft insta-grading community, and it’s not going to make fans think they know what they’re doing. There were a lot of players that fans wanted the team to take, but as happens every year, they didn’t get their wishlist checked off.

How did Washington do on Day 2? What do they need to address on Day 3?

Hogs Haven

The Athletic

Quan Martin, S, Illinois

Washington is all-in on remaking its secondary in selecting its second consecutive defensive back. It fits for the Commanders, who have taken steps to shift from mid-level to upper level in all defensive categories.

One of three elite defenders in the Illinois secondary, Martin has the most positional flexibility of the trio. Last season Martin had 14 pass breakups, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and three tackles for loss to go along with 64 overall tackles.

Martin (5-11, 194) mostly played in the slot but sometimes shifted deep or outside if teammate Devon Witherspoon moved inside to cover the opponent’s most explosive receiver. Opponents caught 42 passes on Martin (74 targets) for 611 yards and three touchdowns. He projects best to nickel, but he has the speed (4.46 40 time) to play deep safety or corner if necessary. Grade: B

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Tough and consistent, Stromberg started 44 games in the SEC and was named the league’s top blocker last year. Stromberg also has positional versatility with 11 starts at guard before moving to center the last three seasons.

Last year, Stromberg (6-3 ¼, 306) didn’t allow a sack, and he posted solid measurements at the combine (79 5/8 wingspan). He’s a quality swing interior lineman on day one and could become a starter at some point this year. Grade: B+

Breakdown: The Commanders are really focused on that secondary. Emmanuel Forbes was their first-round pick on Thursday night, and they’re doubling down by taking a good free safety prospect in Martin.

He had great production last season with three interceptions and 14 pass breakups. He’s short at 5-11, he makes up for it with his athletic ability and football intelligence.

Adding Stromberg, who was first team All-SEC as a center, adds good depth to the interior of the offensive line. Grade: B+

Clutch Points

Jartavius Martin, DB, Illinois

The Commanders needed a slot corner and they got one at pick No. 47. There may have been some better all-around CBs at this point (Tyrique Stevenson, Kelee Ringo, Cam Smith) but the Commanders wanted a corner with this specific slot skillset and got an excellent one in Martin. Grade: B+

SB Nation

Jartavius Martin, S, Illinois

Nickel corner who is athletic and fits the need on the inside in Washington. Very solid pick. Grade: B-

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Stromberg is an experienced player who can play in multiple schemes. Unspectacular, but a reliable pick. Grade: B-

CBS Sports

Jartavius Martin, CB, Illinois

Long, explosive, agile safety with a complete game. Finds the ball well in the air. Strong, assertive tackler. Can play multiple roles. Body control is awesome too. Grade: B+

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Masher who’s athletic and can grow roots in pass pro. Run-blocking is solid but balance is a major concern. Has starter upside if he gets stronger. Grade: B-

Pro Football Network

Jartavius Martin, CB, Illinois

Jartavius “Quan” Martin played in the slot for Illinois, and while he was projected to safety at the next level h may remain as a slot defender for Washington. Martin is a fantastic athlete with outrageous explosiveness. His reactionary athleticism will play well in a division that has to deal with a lot of talent playing in the slot on offense.

But with the league moving toward more three safety personnel groupings, there is a chance that the Commanders swing him to the back end alongside Kamren Curl and Derrick Forrest. But the team likely wants a bit more quickness in the slot than what Benjamin St-Juste can provide them. Grade: B

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

This pick makes a ton of sense. The value might not be outstanding in the third round, but there have already been three centers off the board, and the Commanders could desperately use a starter there.

Stromberg has adequate length for the position and more than enough athleticism to start at the NFL level. He’s a better downhill run blocker than he is a pass protector. Stromberg could struggle early on as a pass protector because of his inconsistent anchor, but centers are more infrequently left on an island in pass protection anyways. Grade: B- (B)

Day 1 grade: B

Analysis: The Commanders added another member to its secondary in Round 2, selecting a nickel defender in Martin to pair with first-round pick Emmanuel Forbes. Martin excelled against the run and pass last season in an Illini secondary loaded with seniors. Washington used its third-round compensatory selection on Stromberg, who has the anchor and upper-body flexibility to be a solid starter in the league.


Washington went with Jartavius Martin, a CB from Illinois at 47. The Commanders wasted little time grabbing Martin, who played 5 years in Champaign. The 97th pick was Ricky Stromberg, a center from Arkansas. Grade: C

Bleacher Report

Jartavius Martin, S, Illinois

Strengths: Versatile, explosive athlete, history as corner shows up in coverage, backline range

Weaknesses: Questionable play strength, needs to play with better angles on routes/ball-carriers

Safety prospects must possess two vital traits to excel in today’s NFL: versatility and ball skills. NFL teams are looking for positionless defenders who won’t be exposed or forced to come off the field in certain sub-packages. Teams also want prospects who can create turnovers and provide the offense with more opportunities.

Illinois’ Jartavius Martin didn’t receive as much recognition as his teammate, Sydney Brown, but his game should translate well to the NFL.

The second-team All-Big Ten defensive back finished first among safeties in hand-on-ball percentage (2.2 percent) and second in percentage of snaps in the slot (64 percent), according to Sports Info Solutions (h/t the Washington Post’s Nicki Jhabvala).

Clearly, the Washington Commanders have 1) prioritized upgrades to their secondary and 2) targeted very specific talents.

With the selection of Emmanuel Forbes in the first round, the team went against the consensus for someone the organization thinks best fits the system. Brian Branch, who was the class’ top safety prospect, came off the board two picks earlier. Still, the Commanders stuck at safety and chose Martin.

Despite a top-four pass defense last season, Washington understood it could still upgrade portions of the roster. Grade: C

Ricky Stromberg, IOL, Arkansas

Strengths: Extremely physical, advanced run blocker, point man at the line of scrimmage, identifies blitzes and line stunts

Weaknesses: Overextends at times, aiming points with hands, can be rocked by powerful nose tackles

This year’s center class might not light up the marquee, but it’s definitely one of the stronger position groups, with its overall quality and number of prospects who could become starters.

Arkansas’ Ricky Stromberg is in the thick of things, as he quietly climbed Bleacher Report’s rankings throughout the predraft process. He’s an experienced, gritty pivot who could enter a lineup soon.

Stromberg, who emerged as the SEC’s best blocker as the 2022 Jacobs Blocking Award winner, is an experienced, smart center with some guard flexibility. Upon taking over the center spot in 2020, Stromberg started 33 games as the snapper against college football’s best competition.

“I like to watch film a lot,” Stromberg said, per Fan Nation’s Bo Marchionte. “I enjoy it. I feel I’ve always been a student of the game and have a great football IQ. I think that is one of my most underappreciated traits.”

Even as the 97th overall pick, Stromberg should be a Day 1 starter at center for the Washington Commanders, since Nick Gates is currently the team’s best option. Grade: A

Sporting News

Jartavius Martin, DB, Illinois

The Commanders reach again to try to boost their secondary. Although Martin is a smart inside cover man, he still is developing as a playmaker and should have been a Day 3 selection. Grade: D

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Stromberg has an interesting blend of strength and athleticism. Although he needs development as a backup, the Commanders will be hoping he can battle Nick Gates right away for starting center duties. Grade: A-

Draft Kings Nation

Jartavius Martin, DB, Illinois

Martin showed off well at the combine, but doesn’t play with the same speed and explosiveness. He can be beaten deep and can’t use his speed to recover. He’ll likely settle in as a nickel back. Grade: C

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Stromberg is high energy, but doesn’t try to do more than he’s capable of. He has a good feel for leverage and angles, giving more athletic defenders trouble they don’t expect. Grade: B

Yahoo Sports

Jartavius Martin, S, Illinois

This feels like a reach with the other corners who were on the board. Martin is an athletic marvel, but he has a lot of work to do to be a full-time NFL starter, especially on the outside. This is an upside swing for the Commanders. Grade: C-

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Here’s added offensive line depth on the interior for the Commanders. Stromberg had a strong week during the Shrine Bowl practices this year. Grade: C+

Walter Football

Quan Martin, S/CB, Illinois

I had Quan Martin going one pick earlier, but he makes a lot of sense for the Redskins, who are finally resolving their major secondary issues. Martin can play both safety and cornerback, but with Emmanuel Forbes in the fold, putting Martin at safety is a logical fit. Grade B+

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Here’s another reach. We’ve reached the compensatory section of the third round, so making reach picks like this isn’t Millen-worthy, but the Redskins could have drafted so many better players than Ricky Stromberg. The Arkansas product had a solid 2022 campaign, but he’s not an exciting prospect. Grade D


Jartavius Martin, DB, Illinois

Washington doubles down in the secondary after picking up cornerback Emmanuel Forbes in the first round. We’re not sure this was a major need for Washington with issues at linebacker and on the offensive line. Grade: C

The 33rd Team

Jartavius Martin, DB, Illinois

The Commanders grabbed two defensive backs in the first two rounds. The strength of Jartavius Martin’s game is versatility. He can play over the slot, he can play outside, and he can line up at safety as well. He was overshadowed by Sydney Brown and Devon Witherspoon at Illinois. Martin tested off the charts at the combine. Grade: C-

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Stromberg is a high effort player who lacks length. He plays hard, and with toughness but he has just average overall strength to hold up at the point. Washington will like his instincts and intelligence. Grade: C-

Sprouts Illustrated

Jartavius Martin, CB, Illinois

The Commanders have taken two corners with their initial picks, bolstering a weak secondary. Martin was projected in many corners to be a third-round pick, but Washington pounced far earlier. At 5’11” and 194 pounds, there are also questions about whether he’ll play corner or safety at the next level after five years with the Illini. Grade: D

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Washington upgraded its offensive line in the offseason with right tackle Andrew Wylie, and added another piece with Stromberg on the interior. The Commanders are getting a bigger center at 6’3” and 306 pounds, who also played guard for the Razorbacks. Grade: C+

Pro Football Focus

Jartavius Martin, DB, Illinois

Martin comes off the board 47th overall to Washington after slotting in at 94th on the PFF big board. He can fill a versatile role in the secondary for the Commanders, who clearly placed an emphasis on improving that group in this draft. He played everywhere from outside corner to slot corner to safety in his five-year career at Illinois. Grade: Below Average

Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Stromberg could wind up as a starter anywhere on the interior in the NFL, but this is one of the biggest reaches of the day. He ranks 228th on the PFF big board. He did grade well in college, though, producing an 83.4 PFF run-blocking grade and a 77.1 PFF pass-blocking grade. Grade: Below Average