We’re just beyond the Senior Bowl and staring down the barrel of another Chiefs/49ers Super Bowl, with the NFL Scouting Combine not far off in the distance at this point. For teams like Washington who are in for a major re-tooling, it’s absolutely not too soon to be seriously thinking about the draft.
Washington goes into the 2024 draft with a proper GM in place for the first time in a quarter century, and the bones of a coaching staff coming together in real time as this piece is written. It’s a critical offseason in the nation’s capital.
This is the first of my 2024 pre-draft mocks, conducted using the Pro Football Network mock draft simulator.
While I was open to considering a trade back from the #2 spot, nothing materialized, so I decided I needed to roll the dice and select our next quarterback.
Round 1, Pick 2 - Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
With a defensive head coach, this team is likely to need a quarterback who is a good fit with our next offensive coordinator. For the purposes of this exercise, I’m assuming that will be Kliff Kingsbury, the current odds-on favorite for the job.
In his time in the college ranks, Kingsbury helped groom Case Keenum, Baker Mayfield, and Patrick Mahomes, eventually getting a head coaching position in Arizona, tutoring Kyler Murray. Based on the quarterbacks he’s coached up thus far, I think Kingsbury could be an intriguing match for the Heisman Trophy-winning Daniels.
Here’s one draft profile of Daniels:
Overall, Daniels has an exciting floor as a prospect. He is a veteran-like presence in the pocket, and he’s far and away the best athlete in the class at the position. Daniels’ average arm talent and inconsistent accuracy may limit his ceiling, but it’s hard to imagine him totally flaming out. Daniels would be best in an offense that leans into his rushing ability and vertical passing, similar to Kyler Murray or Jalen Hurts.
Jackson Powers-Johnson was really, really good today (again).— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) January 31, 2024
The balance at contact and ability to push the rusher wide with his off-hand is tremendous. pic.twitter.com/JkyOzBarQL
Round 2, Pick 36 - Jackson Powers-Johnson, C/G, Oregon
Normally, I’d be a little reluctant to draft an interior lineman this high. This year, however, given the praise being lavished on JPJ and Washington’s need for interior offensive line strength, this is actually a fairly easy choice. Let’s bolster the line from the inside out, and lock down the center position for the next decade.
Round 2, Pick 40 - Trade back with Cardinals for #66 and #71
Washington simply has too many positions to fill not to accept this modest trade back. For those interested, per the Rich Hill trade chart, this represents Washington giving up 149 points in trade value for 144 points from the Cardinals.
#Clemson LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr. stats vs. #15 Notre Dame on Saturday:— Savage College Football (@SavageCFB123) November 7, 2023
- 7 solo tackles
- 11 total tackles
- 2 sacks
- 2.5 tackles for loss
- 1 pick-six
Trotter is arguably the best Linebacker in College Football right now
Round 3, Pick 66 - Jeremiah Trotter Jr, LB, Clemson (from Arizona)
Dan Quinn needs linebackers, and in the beginning of the third round, he gets arguably the best in the draft.
At 6’0″ and 230 pounds, Trotter is a dense, well-leveraged linebacker over the middle of the field who offers great instincts and awareness for his age. He has a natural feel for how to combat, evade, and bend around blocks, and he’s a very reliable tackler with sturdy form and a strong closing burst.
Heading into 2022, Trotter already had an early-round profile with his traditional LB framework, but he took a step up in 2023 as a blitzing threat, weaponizing his explosiveness to terrorize offensive linemen. He’s truly the full package at the second level.
Leonard Taylor has a huge amount of potential if a team is willing to spend time ironing out his inconsistencies.— Mike Poland (@kenfigkowboy) January 29, 2024
Dude has a huge ceiling and he will he could slide to the bottom of the second round #NFL #NFLDraft #ShrineBowl pic.twitter.com/F7uHreUzEw
Round 3, Pick 67 - Leonard Taylor, DL, Miami
Taylor is an athletically-gifted, but still raw defensive line prospect who could potentially thrive under the tutelage of an accomplished defensive coordinator like Dan Quinn.
Taylor is lean, hyper-explosive, and well-leveraged. He can take advantage of his instant one-step burst and mass into awesome raw power, both with extensions and body weight collisions. He’s a dynamic gap-invader who’s also shown he can use active and precise hands to pry down extensions and swim past opponents.
Beyond his raw athletic foundation, there are still concerns with Taylor. While he has enough in his pass-rush arsenal to generate excitement, he can still expand his arsenal and improve later in reps. Additionally, his overall flexibility is not a strength. His lack of elite ankle flexion, in particular, limits his versatility on stunts.
Nevertheless, in the right scheme and with the right coaching, Taylor could grow to become a high-level NFL starter. He absolutely has the motor and disposition to maximize his physical tools.
Kansas State TE Ben Sinnott went 2-2 in Red Zone 1-on-1's— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) February 1, 2024
Used a head fake to separate on the first rep and got both feet down in the back of the end zone
On the second, he showed solid bend for a big fella to uncover on a whip route pic.twitter.com/ENPKklG6Y7
Round 3, Pick 71 - Ben Sinnott, TE, Kansas State (from Arizona)
After years of underinvestment, Washington finally gets serious about the tight end position.
Washington’s new general manager, Adam Peters, was a college tight end before eventually transitioning to defensive lineman at UCLA. There’s strong speculation that he had a key hand in taking George Kittle in 5th round of the 2017 draft - despite having a third round grade on him.
“I remember scouting George Kittle at Iowa when I was with the Broncos, at the time,” 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters recently told 49ers.com. “He was a really unique athlete but wasn’t a really highly thought of prospect by most people. When we got to the 49ers, our coaching staff did a great job of identifying exactly what George could do, and exactly what George could be in our offense.
Sinnott, in some respects, is a similar sort of player. Not flashy. No particular attributes that jump off the page, but he’s an integrated package that could develop into a key contributor in the right offense. He reminds some observers of 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
To my eyes, he looks like this year’s Sam LaPorta, the Lions’ rookie tight end who took the league by storm, and who has thrived in Ben Johnson’s offense. Washington has to deepen its tight end room this off-season, and Sinnott would be my top tight end target in the 2024 draft, in terms of likely value. I’d be happy to see Washington use a Day 2 pick on him.
Yale OT Kiran Amegadjie (6-5, 326) was invited to the 2024 NFL Combine despite having his senior season ended after four games by a quad injury. The third-team Stats Perform FCS All-American may wind up only visiting with NFL team personnel due to recovery time.— Craig Haley (@CraigHaley) January 30, 2024
Yale Athletics pic.twitter.com/pObgU89xda
Round 3, Pick 100 - Kiran Amegadjie, OT, Yale
There’s rarely ever justification needed to take the best tackle on the board. That’s the case here as well.
At 6’5″, 326 pounds, with arms over 36″, Amegadjie has an uncommon power profile. And on top of his size and length, he’s a high-level athlete with searing explosiveness, impressive short-area energy, flexibility, and range as a pulling and moving blocker.
As a hand-fighter, Amegadjie is still growing. His placement can still be inconsistent, and he’s still figuring out how to efficiently use the levers at his disposal. But in a small 2023 sample, his footwork and hip leveraging looked improved, and his mauler mentality makes him a domineering threat at multiple levels.
Amegadjie’s quad injury will prevent him from showing off his skills on the All-Star circuit, but at the same time, he should be able to make a full recovery after surgery. At his peak, Amegadjie has the elite athleticism, power, and physicality to support a ceiling as an impact NFL starter.
As a bonus, Amegadjie also has experience at guard, in addition to tackle. Thus, teams will be able to play him wherever they see fit to maximize his skills. He may need a slightly longer developmental runway, but he can be a road-grader on the interior or a suffocating blindside blocker down the road.
NCST LB Payton Wilson hit 23.4 mph on this play— Edgar Salmingo, Jr. ✌ (@PanthersAnalyst) February 2, 2024
That's faster than your fave WRs
Round 4, Pick 101 - Payton Wilson, LB, NC State
We need linebackers:
Payton Wilson was a top-flight producer in 2023, amassing 138 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, three interceptions, six pass deflections, and a forced fumble.
He has it all as an LB prospect at 6’4″ and 235 pounds: Size, athleticism, range, tackling ability, coverage chops, and playmaking instincts.
For Wilson, the biggest question will be his medicals. He tore his ACL in high school, suffered another knee injury that required surgery in 2018, and missed most of the 2021 season with a shoulder injury. But if his medicals check out, Wilson can be an impact NFL starter.
Not only is New Hampshire’s Dylan Laube the best pure pass catching back in this NFL Draft, but he’s a scary threat in space with his quickness and contact balance.— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) February 4, 2024
He’s going to make a fanbase very happy. Ascending prospect after the Senior Bowl. pic.twitter.com/rqiQtj7p1y
Round 5, Pick 137 - Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire
Laube has the potential to be someone’s markdown McCaffrey this year. Let’s hope it’s Washington’s.
Round 6, Pick 180 - Erick All, TE, Iowa
It’s hard to go wrong with Iowa TEs. From his draft profile:
In space, All showcases clean route-running with the ability to threaten defenders at a variety of depths. He has strong hands in condensed confines and does a nice job of sealing defenders within the hashes. Breakaway speed lacks but he does have the burst to threaten the seam consistently. He showcases a high level of awareness when targeted and approaches each target with a plan post-completion to find clean grass. All is a physical runner with some wiggle in space, as well.
Concerns remain about his mechanics as a blocker and ability to ID soft spots in zone. He will often elongate crossers into coverage instead of snapping off in vacant areas. He’ll play high at times, which limits his explosiveness in/out of breaks.
Overall, All touts the route-running and seam-stretching ability to earn targets at the next level. High-level athletic intangibles remain absent in his evaluation, but his experience at a multitude of alignments presents an intriguing chess piece for teams that deploy multiple-tight-end sets.
I’ve lost count of the number of times Taulia Tagovailoa and Joshua Cephus have connected this week.— Jacob Richman (@JacobHRichman) January 30, 2024
Getting it done in the redzone this morning. pic.twitter.com/7uJV6jr7oj
Round 7, Pick 219 - Joshua Cephus, WR, UTSA
Cephus stood out at the Shrine Game and has reportedly already met with Washington several times:
At 6’2”, 189 lbs, Cephus primarily popped as a vertical threat on Saturday, with the occasional finish through contact present as well. But Sunday’s more team period-oriented practice unlocked the 63-game veteran’s feel for route combinations and spacing, along with a couple of nice grabs outside of his frame. With 31” arms, you wouldn’t expect Cephus to be a player with a huge catch radius, but he routinely made strong receptions with his hands extended away from his body.
Cephus also separated better than on Saturday, showing that he can win at all three levels of the field.
How would you grade this draft?
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