Questions to answer
— How to address depth: Fuller proved that he can still be one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL last season, and while St-Juste and Forbes had their problems, they’re going to be on the roster next season and could be quality starters with the right guidance. There are several questions about the rest of the position, though. Players like Castro-Fields and Holmes had their moments, but it’s clear they are not starters at this point in their careers. It’s reasonable to expect the Commanders to look at the draft for depth, but they might also benefit from bringing in veterans via free agency. Re-signing Fuller is an option the team could consider, but players like Adoree’ Jackson and Stephon Gilmore, who still can offer solid snaps despite being the second oldest available player at the position, are set to hit the open market as well.
— Forbes’ development: Forbes was expected to help create more turnovers for the Commanders, a problem for the team in 2022, and come in as a Day 1 starter. He could still do that, but the rookie objectively underperformed last season. He was part of the reason the Commanders had such a problem with giving up explosive plays, particularly in the team’s first matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s not to say that the year was devoid of positive moments from Forbes. He took a jump around the middle of the season and did a better job of giving up explosive plays after being benched. Still, the Commanders drafted him with the hope that he would help them flip the field with his talent for grabbing interceptions. How he develops, and whether he can turn into that player at the professional level, will be something to watch in OTAs, minicamp and training camp.
Jordan Morgan, T, Arizona
Whether you believe Washington needs a complete reset at offensive line or just some retooling, the consensus is that the team’s offensive line could use some work after a disappointing 2023 season. Luckily, the Commanders have five picks in the top 100, so they could find at least an eventual starter on Day 2.
Enter Arizona tack Jordan Morgan, ranked as the ninth-best tackle by CBS sports. Morgan, who came to Arizona out Marana High School, has been a start for the program for the last two seasons, starting 22 games during that span. He’s a two-time First Team All-Pac-12 recipient, and he’s earned a PFF grade of 83.1 in each of the last two seasons.
Morgan is not considered a top prospect like Joe Alt or Olumuyiwa Fashanu, but he does have some similar numbers. PFF gave him a pass blocking grade of 86.2, which is not far from Alt (91.2) and Fashanu (88.4). He did allow 16 pressures — more than Alt and Fashanu combined — but he was placed in significantly more pass blocking situations (477 snaps) than either player.
This shouldn’t be considered a direct comparison between Alt, Fashanu and Morgan. The former two are considered the top tackles for a reason and will likely be taken in the top 10 picks. However, the fact that Morgan isn’t far off from either player shows how deep the position is in 2024.
Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina
Xavier Legette had a breakout season in 2023, catching more passes (71), getting more yards (1,255) and hauling in more touchdowns (7) than he did in the previous four years of his college career. This year’s receiver class is talented, so he’s likely going to get pushed down to the second or third round. That shouldn’t be a knock on his talent, however, because he might be one of the most exciting prospects at the position.
Legette possesses several qualities that teams like Washington don’t have on their roster. At 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds, he’s a big, physical receiver that was Spencer Rattler’s favorite target last season, getting nearly twice as many receptions as the next player on the roster. He also knows how to use that size, too. He caught 64.3% of contested passes of at least 20 yards, which was tied for seventh among all receivers.
Legette was at his best against man coverage, as he caught 75.9% of his targets in one-on-one situations. His route-running does need some work, but he excels on go routes, where he can use his size and hands to bully defenders.
Legette is not going to be an instant No. 1 receiver as a rookie, but he could still help an offense as a third option. His size, straightaway speed and hands are enough to take a chance on, and with the right development, he could turn into something more in a few years.
Burgundy & Gold Report
6’6” 330 lbs | OT | BYU
*2023 Preseason All-Big 12 and a 5-star recruit
In 2023 as a junior Suamataia saw action in 11 games (644 snaps) and gave up 9 QB hurries, 6 QB hits, and 2 sacks while lining up at left tackle.
The BYU left tackle displays Impressive technique and footwork, but what jumps out is his overall quickness. In fact Suamataia was recorded hit speeds of up to 21.5 MPH, which landed him on Bruce Feldman’s Freak List
Suamataia is projected to go somewhere between round 2-3, but is another athletic tackle prospect that should see his stock rise after the Senior Bowl.
Pro Football Focus
Washington’s new regime, spearheaded by new general manager Adam Peters, has a franchise-defining offseason ahead with five top-100 draft selections, including the No. 2 overall pick. There are also a few interesting decisions in the secondary, with cornerback Kendall Fuller up for a new contract.
Over the past two seasons, Curl’s 58 defensive stops are the fourth most among safeties.
Curl is good at everything but doesn’t have one defining great trait, with very little ball production since his rookie campaign. Furthermore, second-round rookie Jartavius Martin came on at the end of the season and could, in theory, take over the starting job in 2024. Nevertheless, retaining a homegrown seventh-round draft pick who offers an extremely high floor makes sense for a team with the most cap space in the NFL, not that this should ever be the lone motivating factor for a contract.
Worst Landing Spot: Washington Commanders
The Commanders have the opportunity to draft a franchise-altering quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick. It’s a great chance at a clean slate for an organization that is looking to put the days of Dan Snyder behind them and forge ahead under Josh Harris’ ownership.
So while it could be tempting to use their league-leading $84.3 million in cap space to sign Cousins and have an elite mentor for their new rookie signal-caller, it would be bad for all parties involved.
First, it would be a clear downgrade in terms of weapons. All due respect to Terry McLaurin, but he isn’t Justin Jefferson, and Jahan Dotson isn’t Jordan Addison.
Beyond that, it would just set up an awkward situation. The biggest upside to both Caleb Williams and Drake Maye is that either is a Day 1 starter. They both have incredibly high ceilings, but neither will need the ramp-up time to become a starter.
Podcasts & videos
‘It made me who I am today’: Lions offensive coach talks Gaithersburg roots
In podcast form with Logan Paulsen (on IG @logan_paulsen82). What traits matter in a coach; Ben Johnson’s offense; Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels (only 3 more months of this debate!). More. @ESPNRichmond https://t.co/mKeIPHf7bA— John Keim (@john_keim) January 26, 2024
Beltway Football: Conference Championship Weekend Preview
NFC East links
Big Blue View
Irving will be a weapon in the NFL
Size is not a skillset, and few prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft exemplify that better than Oregon running back Bucky Irving.
There’s been a trend among teams to favor more dense, powerfully built runners like Bijan Robinson or the New York Giants own Saquon Barkley. Runners who manage to be athletic and around 6-foot, 220 pounds certainly have value as offenses look to spread out defenses and force them into smaller personnel packages. But runners like Irving, who stands just 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, can be very valuable as well — just look at Devon Achane or Kyren Williams.
Like Achane and Williams, Irving is a firecracker of a running back, with the ability to turn a glimmer of space into a big play.
Irving projects as an important, high volume runner in a backfield rotation at the NFL level.
He should be able to become an every-down back at the NFL level, but will need to show that he’s a competent pass protector first. Irving’s competitive toughness and willingness to take on contact bode well there, but his technique as a blocker might need work. He was mostly used in scat protection as a check-down option, so routinely taking on (much) bigger defenders as a blocker is a bit of a foreign concept.
That said, Irving is a chunk play waiting to happen when given a glint of daylight as a runner or receiver, while also having the ability to pick up tough yardage when necessary.
Teams committed to a power run game might look elsewhere – or view him simply as a “change of pace” back. However, he could be a dangerous weapon in a system that uses spacing and designed separation similar to those used by the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, or Miami Dolphins.
NFL league links
Players on the two Super Bowl teams will be prohibited from engaging in any form of gambling--including on casino games--throughout that week in Las Vegas, under the rules the NFL distributed in late September to teams, players and the NFLPA.... https://t.co/shKwMqtO1N— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) January 26, 2024