NFL free agency has wound all the way down, and the Washington Commanders have not signed any new players in almost three weeks. Their salary cap space is low, and the team hasn’t looked to free up any money with cuts, extensions, or restructures. The team, and most of the league, are laser focused on the draft that kicks off in Kansas City, MO on April 27th.
This week’s roundup is led off with a new mock draft from ESPN’s Todd McShay. He goes with the popular position(CB), and gives the Washington Commanders a player who has been mocked to them for months. McShay is already labeling Penn State’s Joey Porter, Jr. as the new starter opposite Kendall Fuller. This would move Benjamin St-Juste either to the slot or to a reserve role. McShay calls Porter a shutdown corner, but also notes he only had one interception in his four-year college career.
His 2nd round pick addresses the team’s other big need that a lot of people think could be addressed on Day 1. Washington is unlikely to take Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz in the first round, but if he fell to them at #47 there’s a very good possibility that he could be wearing a Commanders uniform this season. Washington signed Nick Gates in free agency, re-signed Tyler Larsen, and has Chase Roullier returning from his second season-ending leg injury in a row. There is a big opportunity for a draft pick to come in and win the starting job here.
Also, please stop trying to make Bijan Robinson to the Commanders in the 1st round happen!
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
Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State
Porter is an outstanding press corner whose instincts, body control and physicality helped him to 11 pass breakups last season. He also limited opponents to 3.7 yards per pass attempt thrown in his direction, good for fifth in the country. The Commanders could use that type of shutdown corner, even though Porter had just one interception over four seasons at Penn State. He’d have an instant impact opposite Kendall Fuller.
Round 2: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Nick Gates and Chase Roullier have both dealt with injuries, and Schmitz brings power and awareness to the center position. The Commanders were 29th in run block win rate at center last season (65.0%), and gave up 48 total sacks (seventh-most).
The extra-long cover corner could give Ron Rivera a shutdown defender in the mold of Josh Norman, whom Rivera coached to an All-Pro level in Carolina.
Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste is a promising player, but with the Commanders potentially moving Kendall Fuller back inside to the slot, the need for another outside corner is a high priority. With an intriguing blend of size and quickness, Porter is an intriguing option. Patience will be needed with Porter as he works through his aggressive ways in his technique, but he has natural traits that make him one of the top corners in this class. Porter projects as an immediate starter in Washington.
Round 2: Blake Freeland, OT, BYU
Big and quick blockers like Freeland rarely make it out of the second round. He has been compared to Brian O’Neill and Sam Cosmi. Freeland’s consistency as a pass protector — he allowed just one sack in 12 starts last season — could be appealing for the Commanders, who allowed 48 sacks last season, which was seventh-worst in the NFL. He could challenge Charles Leno at left tackle, but he also could move over to right tackle.
Round 3: Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane
Spears would bring versatility to a backfield that lacks explosiveness. With Washington not having a running back reach over 1,000 rush yards last season, he could be a step up as he tallied 1,581 yards in this final season with the Green Wave.
Round 4: Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion
Round 5: Cam Jones, LB, Indiana
Round 6: Warren McClendon, IOL, Georgia
Round 6: Nesta Jade Silvera, IDL, Arizona State
Round 7: Viliami Fehoko, Edge, San Jose State
Does Washington feel tempted to jump on a QB (Hooker over Levis) here? I think the Commanders opt to see how Sam Howell does, and if he doesn’t convince them in 2023, perhaps they make a huge move up to try and bring Caleb Williams home to D.C. They do need more help at corner and have two really good options here in Maryland’s Deonte Banks and Porter. I think they go for the longer option in the 6 feet 2 1/2, 193-pound Porter. The son of the former NFL star of the same name, Porter ran 4.46 in the 40 and broad jumped 10-9; his arms measured in at an eye-popping 34 inches. Rare. There has been talk about Porter being too handsy, and that was an issue with him drawing penalties in 2021, but he cleaned that up and only was flagged once in the Nittany Lions’ final 12 games.
The Coaching Intel
“The length is so intimidating. You don’t find guys that can run like he can with that kind of length. He eliminated that side of the ball for us.”
“He’s very physical and has impressive change of direction. Someone tried to run a pivot (route) on him on fourth-and-2. His ability to flip his hips for a guy that long was a sight to see.”
“He is extremely athletic, has great COD and good movement skills. But on tape, he sometimes gets himself out of position, getting caught inside when he should be outside, or he’ll misfit something on a run play.”
Washington added guard Nick Gates and tackle Andrew Wylie in free agency, so the urgency to upgrade the offensive line early in the draft is no longer what it once was. Instead, the team targets cornerback; Kendall Fuller is entering the final year of his contract and Benjamin St-Juste has been replacement level. Joey Porter Jr. is the prototypical big, physical cornerback who looks like he belongs in the NFL. He can sometimes get a little too handsy downfield but that doesn’t mean he can’t be dominant at the next level.
Washington snares an important piece to its secondary in the middle of the first round. Joey Porter Jr. is a long, physical cornerback who raises the ceiling of the defense.
Round 2: Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Round 3: Davis Allen, TE, Clemson
They could still use some help at corner, and Porter Jr. might be the top guy on some boards. He is long and athletic and did a good job on some top receivers in college.
The Commanders have plenty of more pressing needs, but Porter is just too exciting a talent to pass up at this spot. The Penn State standout has incredible length and brings instincts in coverage, giving Washington another ball hawk in the secondary.
Offensive line is a bigger need, but the value at corner is just too much to pass up in this scenario. A big, athletic cover man with ideal length, Porter plays his position with the same physicality and competitiveness that made his dad an All-Pro linebacker.
Round 2: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
With the offensive line run depleting that position, cornerback is the logical pick for the Commanders here. Porter’s arrival would move Kendall Fuller to the slot, where he’s at his best, and give Washington one long cornerback duo on the outside.
Round 2: Matthew Bergeron, OT, Syracuse
Bergeron played tackle at Syracuse but could easily kick to guard in the NFL. He may not be needed to start right away after the Commanders signed Andrew Wylie, making this an investment pick.
Round 3: Jartavius Martin, S, Illinois
Washington has a huge hole at cornerback, and Porter would be a good scheme fit for Jack Del Rio.
Overall, Porter was steady coverage in 2022 while recording 27 tackles and 11 passes broken up. However, he really did not provide any big plays and did not record an interception. Porter rotated in as freshman in 2020 and had a quality debut. In 2021, he collected 51 tackles, one interception, four passes broken up and one forced fumble. The son of legendary Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, Joey Porter Jr., has an NFL pedigree. The 6-foot-3, 193-pounder possesses excellent size and the upside to become an impactful player. Porter has freakishly long arms, which makes him a superb fit for press-man corner to take on big receivers.
Round 2: Quan Martin, CB/S, Illinois
Washington needs more talent at cornerback and safety.
The 5-foot-11, 194-pound Martin is a versatile defensive back who is a weapon in the secondary. He can play safety, nickel corner, or outside corner. Martin is a smooth athlete with instincts. Team sources feel Martin could be a riser during the draft process because he put together really good tape during the 2022 season. On the year, Martin recorded 64 tackles, three interceptions, 11 passes broken up, one sack and two forced fumbles. He is sleeper who could rise quickly as the 2023 NFL Draft approaches.
Round 3: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State
The Commies could use some depth at tight end.
Musgrave recorded 11 receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown in 2022. He played in just the first two games of the year before missing the rest due to injury. However, team sources are high on Musgrave as an early-round talent. The 6-foot-6, 253-pounder has good size and flashed receiving ability in 2021, catching 22 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown. Musgrave could be a riser as the 2023 NFL Draft nears.
Round 4: Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Kentucky
The Commies have Antonio Gibson in the last year of his contract. Here’s a back to pair with Brian Robinson.
The son of the famed four-time Pro Bowl linebacker by the same name, Joey Porter Jr. should have a bright NFL future. His +900 odds of being the first cornerback drafted place him well behind Gonzalez and Witherspoon.
The Washington Commanders have made the commitment to Sam Howell as their starting quarterback in 2023, but have brought in Jacoby Brissett as an insurance policy. Also, the Commanders have done a nice job bolstering their offensive line, something that will prove key in Howell’s development in Year 1 as the starter.
On defense, there is still work to do, and with a defensive-minded head coach in Ron Rivera, Joey Porter Jr. would be an excellent pick at No. 15. Porter is an NFL legacy, and based on his skill set, maybe the most NFL-ready defensive prospect in this draft class.
The Washington Commanders held the No. 16 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and with the selection in our mock, they added Penn State star cornerback Joey Porter Jr. Porter is considered one of the best defensive backs in this draft class, and 31 picks later, the Commanders get one of the best interior offensive linemen as well.
John Michael Schmitz is getting a lot of buzz as we inch closer to April’s draft, and some feel he could be a first-round pick. Here, he falls to No. 47, but the Commanders are waiting with open arms as they add a punishing player who will protect their new starting quarterback Sam Howell.
The Commanders biggest needs come down to offensive tackle and cornerback. I truly think that the first pick will be between those two positions; such a pick might come after a trade-down though. I was torn with which CB to pick here, as neither is a perfect fit. Witherspoon is more slight than this regime prefers, and Joey Porter Jr. isn’t a perfect fit either.
Porter’s size and athletic prowess make him the pick here, and he should slide in nicely across from Benjamin St. Juste, allowing Kendall Fuller to move back to the nickel spot where he made his name in the first place.
Round 2: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Round 3: Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford
Round 4: Braeden Daniels, OG, Utah
Round 5: Colby Wooden, DL, Auburn
Round 6: Ryan Hayes, OT, Michigan
Round 6: Yaya Diaby, EDGE, Louisville
Round 7: Ronnie Hickman, S, Ohio State
Commanders trade their 2023 first round pick (16th overall), 2023 second round pick (47th overall), 2023 fourth round pick (118th overall)
Eagles trade their 10th overall pick, 2023 second round pick (62nd overall)
There’s a surplus of offensive line, cornerback and wide receiver talent available at the edge of the top 10 — three positions where the Eagles don’t have a glaring need. So Howie Roseman does a very Howie Roseman thing by trading back and amassing draft picks, leaving the Commanders to kick off the double-digit selections. Plus, what does Dan Snyder care about future draft picks anyway if he’s not gonna be team owner in 2024?
The Commanders have plenty of needs, though perhaps none quite as glaring as cornerback. Porter should step in immediately and is already well-versed on the rigors of playing in the league from his dad.
Washington can get a really physical corner in Porter Jr. to improve their secondary.
Round 2: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
Round 3: Tyler Steen, OT, Alabama
Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois
A team lacking depth at corner seems like the right spot for an All-Big Ten performer who broke up 23 passes over the past two seasons and is a willing tackler ready to mix it up behind the line of scrimmage.
Witherspoon, continuing the agility and size combination theme for corners at the Combine, positioned himself to be a top-half pick with Cam Smith and Kelee Ringo slipping on boards in relation. The Commanders need to lock into the best corner available after their disaster on the back end with William Jackson Jr., Kendall Fuller and others last season.
The run on corners starts later than expected with a physical 5-foot-11, 180-pound baller who should have a shot at beating out Cameron Dantzler Sr., who was cut by the Vikings and will be a free agent following the season. Ron Rivera needs help covering A.J. Brown and DaVonta Smith and CeeDee Lamb, right?
The defensive line for the Commanders in one of the best in the NFL, but their secondary is one of the worst. They address that issue and select Devon Witherspoon. Witherspoon is a good athlete that plays physical. He will be a much-needed upgraded to a secondary that needs help.
The Commanders need a legitimate CB1 in Ron Rivera’s defense. Devon Witherspoon is one of the best in the class. He is undoubtedly the most physical corner and it is not close. Witherspoon is a talented coverage defender that will make plays as a force defender in the run game. He’s near complete caliber cornerback that teams should covet.
Round 2: Dalton Kincaid TE, Utah
Give Sam Howell as many weapons as possible. Dalton Kincaid is the best receiving tight end in the class, in my opinion.
The Commanders claimed former Minnesota Vikings’ cornerback Cameron Dantzler off waivers earlier this offseason. While that was a smart move, the team still has a hole at cornerback. They traded away Williams Jackson III at the trade deadline. More importantly, Kendall Fuller is a free agent after the 2023 season. Witherspoon is a potential top-10 pick, making him a steal at 16th overall.
Round 2: Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Somehow Mayer slid this far down the board. However, the Commanders won’t complain. Logan Thomas struggled last year after tearing an ACL in 2021. Meanwhile, the team used a first-round pick in Jahan Dotson last year. Now it’s time they invest in the tight end position. Mayer will give Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett a difference-maker in the middle of the field.
The Washington Commanders have a choice to make in this slot with Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon and Kentucky quarterback Will Levis still on the board.
Quarterback seems the logical choice. But the Commanders’ messaging has been strong all offseason: Sam Howell appears to be their guy, with an accomplished backup in Jacoby Brissett to push and even help mentor the young signal-caller.
An opportunity to address another premium position with arguably the class’ best pure cover corner is far too enticing.
“Witherspoon is a technical cornerback who does his best work at the line of scrimmage,” Giddings said. “He does a very good job of staying square and matching the receiver while keeping great leverage. Once the ball is in the air, the early entrant does a very good job of staying calm and using great timing to break up passes.
“Witherspoon also does an excellent job of playing the run game. The consensus All-American isn’t afraid to play the run and smack ball-carriers. As a well-rounded cornerback, the Big Ten’s reigning defensive back of the year can step in and cover opposing offense’s top receivers.”
If Howell works out and plays to the level many expected prior to the 2021 campaign when he was viewed as an elite prospect, the Commanders will have just made a brilliant move. If not, a corner—no matter how good—won’t erase that mistake.
Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland (Draft profile)
Trade: Washington trades down with the Los Angeles Chargers to #21
Sliding back and picking up a starting-caliber corner could be a coup for Ron Rivera’s defense. If they trust Banks on the outside right out of the chute, Kendall Fuller could move to the slot role.
The Commanders have to get stickier in coverage on the perimeter. They’d get an awesomely athletic corner in Banks here.
Round 2: O’Cyrus Torrence, OL, Florida
Round 3: Sidy Sow, OG, Eastern Michigan
Deonte Banks is the rare 200-pound cornerback that can shut the opposition down without utilizing his size. When you run a 4.35 and jump 42″ in the vertical and 11’4″ in the broad jump, it makes sense. He obviously has the speed to recover downfield and the agility to mirror at the line, but unlike on basketball courts, Banks is often closed for business.
Round 2: Antonio Johnson, S, Texas A&M
Round 3: Trade: Chargers receive pick No. 97 and a 2024 fifth-rounder, Commanders receive RB Austin Ekeler.
After Porter goes the pick prior, Washington takes the next available corner in Banks. Banks was a combine standout, running a 4.35 40 yard dash and jumping a 42-inch vertical. With a solid frame, Banks can be a great player for Washington for years to come. H He is fluid in zone coverage and has good hand use in man-to-man. I’m not sure if Banks changes the Washington defense immediately, but he is a great grab for the future.
Washington’s defensive line is loaded. And it’s because the front office has flooded that area of the field with first-rounders. But that has hurt the secondary, which has been the weakest part of the defense over the last two seasons. Washington injects their pass defense with cornerback Deonte Banks. Banks’ versatility, sure tackling, and strong measurables — 92nd-percentile 40-yard dash, 97th-percentile vertical jump, and 98th-percentile broad jump — will provide an instant impact.
The Washington Commanders have more than enough talent in their front seven to dominate defensively, but the secondary needs a lot of work. Deonte Banks is one of the most athletic players in the 2023 NFL Draft and those physical tools allow him to shadow No. 1 receivers. Add him to the Commanders’ secondary and this will be a top-10 defense in 2023.
Round 2: Steve Avila, OG, TCU
William Jackson III was traded to Pittsburgh and there aren’t many other solid cornerback options on their depth chart. Banks’s elite combine performance vaulted his stock and he’d step in as CB1 in DC.
Round 2: Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa
Round 3: Chris Smith II, S, Georgia
Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina (Draft profile)
Trade: The Lions send pick Nos. 18 and 81 in 2023 as well as a 2024 sixth-round pick in exchange for pick No. 16 in 2023 and a 2024 seventh-round pick from Washington.
Washington shopped, Detroit bought, and the Commanders ultimately got who they would’ve selected at No. 16 if no one came up to their price. It was a savvy move to land Cam Smith from South Carolina for the Commanders as the former Gamecock fills a big need on an otherwise terrific and complete defense.
Trade: The Commanders send pick Nos. 47 and 97 in 2023 to Tennessee in exchange for pick No. 41.
Round 2: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
Round 3: Derick Hall, EDGE, Auburn
Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon
Sticking with Gonzalez here. His skill set should help a secondary that needs to increase its turnover production.
Brian Branch, S, Alabama
Washington is in an interesting spot, with needs in the defensive backfield and offensive line in a draft full of both. Most of the top linemen are already off the board, so it makes sense to go with a perimeter playmaker who can be moved around the chessboard as needed. Given Kamren Curl’s ability to perform well close to the line of scrimmage as a slot defender, Branch can join Darrick Forrest as a deep safety and execute Jack Del Rio’s zone-coverage principles. Building up the spine of the defense remains the ethos in D.C.
Another P5 heavy draft team, Washington internally thinks it’s closer to being a competitive team than most people on the outside. They add another pro-ready piece to their secondary.
The board falls nicely for the Washington Commanders here, as they have needs throughout their secondary. With the defense trending toward multiple safety looks and Bobby McCain allowed to depart, adding another captain-level presence next to Kamren Curl would be beneficial. Alabama’s Brian Branch can do it all, including lining up in deep coverage or the slot.
Round 2: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Darnell Washington is among my favorite prospects in the draft, given his rare size and explosiveness. He can quickly find a role for Washington as a blocker but also develop into Logan Thomas’ replacement.
Best Draft Targets for the Commanders with the 16th pick:
Defensive Back: If Gonzalez, Porter or Witherspoon unexpectedly fell, Washington might jump at the chance to add an upgrade at cornerback. That’s unlikely, so Brian Branch may be a fallback plan. Branch has extensive experience lining up in coverage in the slot, and could take over that role.
Offensive Line: The offensive line was a mess last year, making it an obvious area to target with this selection. Although most of last year’s unit remains under contract, expect Washington to add a rookie at some point and shuffle guys around in training camp. This selection is likely the floor for the top tier of offensive line prospects.
Quarterback: The Commanders will likely give Sam Howell the 2023 season to prove himself, but they’d be foolish to not take a close look at this year’s quarterback class. If they fall in love with someone (Anthony Richardson?), perhaps they could snag another quarterback.
The Commanders appear set to punt the QB position this season and roll with a combination of Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett. Washington has made moves to solidify their offensive line and could still look to go that route should the top prospects drop to this spot. Washington will be a team that should look to trade back in the first round as their needs may not align with the talent in this range. Rivera has consistently gone to the Alabama well for defensive players and does so again here with Branch.
Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas (Draft Profile)
Sanders is a cross between former NFL linebackers, Dan Morgan (Panthers, ‘01-’07) and Luke Kuechly (Panthers, ‘12-’19) but with a little more size. Last season he registered 103 tackles; 13.5 tackles for loss; 9.5 sacks; five passes defended and three forced fumbles.
Providing that the Washington Commanders believe in Sam Howell at quarterback, they can address another need. Drew Sanders helps the defense in a myriad of ways including pass rush.
Round 2: Cody Mauch, IOL, North Dakota State (Draft Profile)
Round 3: Jakorian Bennett, CB, Maryland
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more likable person in this draft than Nolan Smith. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a better athlete than Smith, who ran a 4.39 40 while at the NFL Combine and checked in at 6’2″ and 238 pounds.
Washington already has a solid defensive line, but adding Smith to Chase Young and Montez Sweat might be too much for the Commanders to pass up. Given the nature of the position, he won’t carry a ton of upside from a fantasy aspect, but Smith will be a very productive player.
Isaiah Foskey, EDGE, Notre Dame
The Commanders have invested several resources into their pass rush, and while it looked pretty formidable for a little while, it hasn’t been able to hold up over time. Drafting Isaiah Foskey is a good start to remedying that problem.
Washington has shown that they’re trying to get more athletic up front after signing Cody Barton and Abdullah Anderson, so picking up one of the most athletic edge rushers in recent memory plays into the same trends they’re already showing. With 28.0 sacks over his collegiate career, Foskey has had no shortage of good play to warrant a high selection.
Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
(Washington trades up to #11. No trade compensation listed for the Titans)
With Levis falling, the Commanders make a move before a few other QB-needy teams can snatch him. Personally, I think the Commanders would be better served to “tank” in 2023 and go after a top QB in next year’s class, but nothing about the current regime leads me to believe that’s in consideration. They like Sam Howell, but they don’t love him.
Will Levis should fall if you ask me. The upside is there, but the lack of consistency and the accuracy issues worry me if I’m a team in need of a quarterback. Still, someone’s going to take him, and it’s probably going to be higher than this.
If Levis can continue developing as a passer, then the concerns shouldn’t be an issue down the road. In this 2023 NFL Mock Draft, he joins a Washington Commanders offense full of potential. Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel just need someone to get them the ball. That could be Sam Howell, but the Commanders may want another player to compete for the job too.
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
The Washington Commanders send the No. 16, No. 97 and No. 150 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft to New England in exchange for the No. 14 pick, hoping to secure their passer of the future. Hendon Hooker (scouting report) is coming off an injury, but his film does not lie. Hooker has shown the arm strength, accuracy and athleticism needed to be a legitimate NFL starter.
Round 2: Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State
Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee
The Commanders were hoping one of the top cornerbacks would fall here. But Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon and Joey Porter Jr. were all gone, leaving the Commanders to decide between other corners, such as Deonte Banks or Emmanuel Forbes. While Washington really likes both players, the opportunity to add the next best offensive tackle was an opportunity the Commanders could not pass on. Wright is a four-year starter in the SEC. That matters. He has played left tackle and right tackle and can even play guard. He projects as a right tackle for Washington.
Washington is in a season of flux, with Sam Howell slated to be the starting quarterback this season and their door of revolving quarterbacks seemingly closed for at least a season. Despite just signing swing tackle Andrew Wylie and having incumbent Sam Cosmi, Darnell Wright just makes this offense better in the long term. Wright is a mountain of a man who went to Tennessee as a former top-10 recruit and is a plug-and-play right tackle who can help in both the run game and pass game right away. Wright gives the backfield of Robinson and Gibson a boost from day one while working on his technique at the position.
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
With new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy in the fold, you can expect the Commanders to improve an offensive line that struggled in most areas last season. Let’s start with Jones, who would be an immediate upgrade over current projected left tackle Charles Leno, especially in the run game. In the passing game? Well, Jones allowed no sacks, two quarterback hits, and seven quarterback hurries last season for the national champions on 470 pass-blocking snaps, so he’s got quite a bit of potential there, as well.
Round 2: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
Round 3: DJ Turner, CB, Michigan
Washington’s defense held its own despite missing Chase Young for most of the year. Cornerback was probably the most imperfect spot defensively, and it would not be surprising to see the Commanders tackle that by selecting Joey Porter Jr.
However, I must admit that I believe the team will want to go offense with this pick if the board allows, not only because that’s where the problems lay last season but also because of the hiring of OC Eric Bieniemy. Bieniemy already brought in one of his former players, RT Andrew Wylie, to upgrade the offensive line. This O-line lacks stars, but it does have depth. The Commanders have already met with OTs Dawand Jones and Darnell Wright, OG O’Cyrus Torrence, and C John Michael Schmitz. Clearly, O-Line is largely in play in the early rounds.
I also propose Washington as a dark horse for offensive weapon like RB Bijan Robinson for several reasons. We have an established history of GM Martin Mayhew drafting RBs relatively high; we know Ron Rivera is old school with running backs; and we know Rivera has soured on Antonio Gibson, whose contract expires next offseason).
If Robinson is not available, perhaps TE Dalton Kincaid, who Bieniemy could see as his up-and-coming Travis Kelce, could be a target in a possible trade-down scenario. Finally, clearly the team needs a quarterback. However, it looks like the plan is to roll with Jacoby Brissett and Sam Howell this season before settling on a future plan next offseason.
Ron Rivera has taken a “we’re gonna do us even if it means I’m not here next year” stance, but I still believe he’s looking for guys who can help immediately. OTs tends to get on the field quickly, and while Jones is somewhat raw, he has incredible athletic ability. If Sam Howell is going to succeed, he’ll need a better group of blockers.
Paris Johnson, Jr., OT, Ohio State
The Commanders can use Johnson at either tackle position or guard early on, but he’s ultimately going to be drafted to hold down the left tackle spot in the future.
Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern (Draft profile)
There has been much debate about whether Skoronski will be a tackle or guard at the next level due to his arm length. The worst-case scenario is he has to move to guard, where most believe he has the potential to be one of the best in the league.
Round 2: Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Round 3: Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn
Round 4: Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion
Round 5: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
Round 6: Joey Fisher, iOL, Shepherd
Round 6: Matt Landers, WR, Arkansas
Round 7: Chamarri Conner, S, Virginia Tech
O’Cyrus Torrence, OG, Florida (Draft Profile)
Trade details: Raiders trade No. 23, 70 and 174 to the Commanders for No. 16 and 193
Trade details: Saints trade No. 29 and 71 to the Commanders for No. 23
Trading down twice from 16 got Washington No. 29 and two third-round picks (70 and 71), while moving up from 193 to 174. The Commanders now have five selections in the top 100 and 10 picks overall. That’s good for the roster-building in general, though it meant losing CB Devon Witherspoon. At least there is legit corner depth in this class. Meanwhile, the Commanders are revamping the offensive line, but there’s not much upside on hand. Torrence is a 6-foot-5, 300-pound mauler who thrived during his one season in the SEC. Put him at left guard, select a cornerback in the second and then use three third-round picks on a linebacker, another offensive lineman and the best player available. — Ben Standig
It is possible the Commanders will use 2021 second-round pick Sam Cosmi at right guard, but I believe new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy would love to see Torrence moving run defenders after watching Trey Smith do just that in Kansas City. In this scenario, Cosmi could take over the important swing tackle position.
Round 2: Luke Musgrave, TE, Oregon State (Draft Profile)
Round 3: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah (Draft Profile)
Round 4: Nick Herbig, LB, Wisconsin
He dominated the Sun Belt at Louisiana, and he dominated the SEC at Florida. Now he gets to take on the best DTs in the NFC East. Despite the fact that Washington appears to be set at guard, Torrence is more than worth taking here. He will help out the run game and a young potential starter in Sam Howell. Sometimes you just can’t turn down talent.
TRADE: Washington trade’s down with the Buccaneers to #19
Protecting Sam Howell will be paramount as the 2022 fifth-round pick attempts to establish himself as QB1 in Washington. The team addressed that with a few free agency signings, and it does so again with the best interior offensive lineman in this class. O’Cyrus Torrence will be solid from Day 1.
John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota (Draft Profile)
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
This is a strong year for tight ends, and Mayer topped 800 receiving yards in each of his last two years at Notre Dame, totaling 16 touchdowns. Washington’s best returning option is Logan Thomas, who had one touchdown last year, so it’s smart to give QB Sam Howell a reliable big target in addition to his talented receivers.
If an offensive lineman falls here, Washington will scoop him up. If not, go and get Sam Howell another weapon to bolster the offense.
If Sam Howell is to be the starter in 2023 then he needs all the help he can get. Michael Mayer will provide exactly that.
While he is not considered as explosive an athlete as some of his peers, Mayer is comfortably the best all-around tight end in the class. He has a sensational catch radius with excellent hands and routinely plucks the ball out of the air over the top and around defenders in traffic.
Mayer is tough as nails, an above average blocker, and will be an immediate safety valve for Howell. One of the safest prospects this year and offers excellent value in this 2023 NFL mock draft.
Dalton Kincaid and Michael Mayer are both in the conversation to be the top tight end selected. It will just come down to if a team wants a better pass-catcher (Kincaid) or a more well-rounded tight end (Mayer). I originally had Kincaid in this slot but after evaluating the Commanders, they are much more likely to go run-heavy and want a tight end who can be a strong blocker as well.
Michael Mayer is your prototypical tight end, but I think that undersells just how good he is. Being able to line up along the line and block shouldn’t be used against him. He also has incredible hands and athleticism to play the position, and he’s a significant upgrade over Logan Thomas, who hasn’t been the same since his 2021 knee injury.
Offensive line and cornerback are high-priority needs as well.
The Washington Commanders didn’t just bring in Eric Bieniemy to run the offense without a full complement of weapons, did they? Well, they apparently aren’t going to try to trade this pick for Lamar Jackson, but short of that, they are definitely all-in on the offensive personnel they have.
Whether the Commanders plan on putting Jacoby Brissett out there, or whether they are actually giving someone like Sam Howell a shot in 2023, I think he’s going to need another weapon at the tight end position. I’m not sure what you can really count on from Logan Thomas going forward and adding someone like Michael Mayer here would be fantastic.
Nobody’s expecting anyone to be Travis Kelce in this offense, but obviously, Eric Bieniemy has a lot of experience making the quarterback’s life easier with an outstanding tight end. Mayer can be that outlet for whoever is under center for the Commanders.
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
The Commanders are loaded at every offensive skill position besides tight end, although Logan Thomas has flashed. Kincaid has yet to work out for teams but proved incredibly productive last season, catching 70 passes for 890 yards and eight touchdowns. Look no further than his 16 receptions for 234 yards and a touchdown against USC to see how effective he can be as a receiver. I think Kincaid would immediately impact the Commanders’ offense and provide Sam Howell and/or Jacoby Brissett with a reliable target.
Round 2: Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami
Through four seasons in college at both Miami and Georgia, Stevenson never posted a coverage grade lower than 67.0 over a season. His coverage grade improved every year, and he allowed a catch on just 42.5% of the passes thrown into his coverage in 2022.
Round 3: Parker Washington, WR, Penn State
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
In setting up a quarterback competition between 2022 fifth-rounder Sam Howell and journeyman Jacoby Brissett, Washington has made clear that it will not be a team that intends to throw upwards of 35 times per game. It would make sense, then, for the Commanders to double down on their offensive vision with Robinson, who looks capable of stepping in as a focal point of the attack.
Robinson is the best running back prospect since Saquon Barkley in 2018, and while the current view of the position league-wide may not see him go second overall, his lasting this long may not be realistic. Robinson led the nation in forced missed tackles in 2022 with 104 — a record since PFF began recording the stat for college football — and placed fifth in yards after contact with 1,071. Importantly in today’s game, he’s also a very capable receiver.
It’s understandable to wonder why this is the pick with Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson on the roster already, but Gibson is entering a contract year and Commanders top personnel executives Martin Mayhew and Marty Hurney have never been afraid to use premium draft capital at the position in their various stops across the NFL.
Washington’s new GM drafted six different RBs in the first three rounds as the Lions GM or assistant GM. With Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson leading the Commanders to a 29th-ranked finish in YPC last year, this would be the perfect excuse to draft a “blue chip” player with Ron Rivera coaching for his job. Can’t you hear the “run the ball, don’t turn the ball over, and win with defense” quotes already??? His expected draft position: 16th.
The Washington Commanders are another big wild card in the draft. The needs aren’t accentuated like others in the top 20. Corner and offensive line make sense, but why not Bijan Robinson? Robinson gives Jacoby Brissett or Sam Howell less pressure, as well as a checkdown threat. Robinson forces missed tackles at a ridiculous rate, and is one of the best running back prospects in a long time.
Which position should the Washington Commanders select in the 1st round?
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