The Washington Commanders have been in a weird purgatory to start the Ron Rivera regime. Talent on both sides of the ball has been held back by uneven quarterback play and injuries. Washington is the next team in line to hope Carson Wentz can turn his bad luck around and in the process right the ship in Washington. Their 2022 NFL Draft s classignals a team going all in on offense while supplementing an already talented defense.
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Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver, Penn State
Washington grabbed a high upside playmaker in the first round to plug into an already intriguing group of wide receivers. Terry McLaurin is one of the NFL’s best pass catchers, Dyami Brown has upside as a second year player, and the world always waits on the talented Curtis Samuel to stay healthy for a whole season.
Dotson steps in and can immediately push for WR2. His speed, softs hands and great ball skills will add another vertical element to an offense with so many speedsters. Pairing his speed with Carson Wentz’ arm makes a ton of sense for a team that is swinging for the fences in 2022.
Phidarian Mathis, Defensive Lineman, Alabama
Washington has done a great job in recent years maintaining a steady stream of talent coming through their defensive line room. Phidarian Mathis continues that tradition. Mathis was a captain on the 2021 Alabama team and for good reason. His steady play, high motor and overall dependability made him a key player on the Tide defense.
Mathis’ size and strength mean he can play various spots on the Commanders interior defensive line. After losing Tim Settle and Matt Ioanidis in free agency, the Commanders smartly grabbed an instant impact defender who can anchor against the run and hold his own as a pass rusher
Brian Robinson Junior, Running Back, Alabama
Washington has one of the more promising young running backs in the league in Antonio Gibson, but the Commanders need to add some solid change up players to spell their lead back. Brian Robinson Jr will bring toughness and physicality to the Washington run game and provide a great complement to Antonio Gibson.
Brian Robinson shined at Alabama in 2021, showcasing his ability as a lead back when he was healthy. While Robinson is not overly quick or fast, he is a punishing runner that makes every carry count. In a Washington offense that struggled to run the ball last year due to offensive line issues, adding a back who fights for every yard makes sense.
Percy Butler, Safety, Louisiana
Washington sought depth on defense with this Percy Butler pick. Butler was a standout defender at Louisiana and impressed at the combine with a 4.36 second 40 yard dash. Butler can immediately contribute as a special teamer, where he thrived in college. The team will also seek to develop Butler’s speed and physical mentality into a more well rounded defender so he can eventually contribute on defense.
Sam Howell, Quarterback, UNC
I really liked this pick by Washington and not just because of my petty dislike for their starting quarterback. Sam Howell has been one of the most productive players in college football since his freshman year at UNC. Coming into the 2021 season, Howell was projected by many as being a potential QB1 in the next draft. Howell did not meet the hype and in a class where quarterbacks generally fell, ended up being a fifth round pick.
Howell’s backslide deserves to be contextualized a bit, however. UNC lost a ton of NFL talent in the 2021 draft, including their top two receivers and two thousand yard running backs. In his final season as a Tar Heel, Howell was used as a quarterback runner more than the previous two years. In his freshman and sophomore season, Howell had a total of 181 rushing yards. In 2021, he had 828.
Becoming a high volume rushing quarterback in the year he did not have as many proven talents around him meant Howell was faced with the perfect storm to negatively impact him as a passer. However there is still a lot to like about Howell. He is a tough, mobile quarterback with flashes of really impressive arm strength. His inability to take huge strides since his freshman year are noteworthy, but as a fifth round pick Howell could be a really solid developmental project for the Washington staff. Assuming Carson Wentz doesn’t slash his tires every day before practice.
Cole Turner, Tight End, Nevada
Tight end was a huge need for Washington this spring. Logan Thomas is recovering from an ACL tear and the depth behind him is less than stellar. Cole Turner brings a ton to the table in terms of size and pass catching ability. Despite being a late round pick, the Nevada standout has a chance to contribute early in his career.
Chris Paul, Guard, Tulsa
Despite being drafted six rounds later than his former teammate, Tyler Smith, Chris Paul has just as high an upside. Paul has the blend of athleticism and physicality that is rare in offensive linemen coming out of college. There is plenty of work to be done to coach him up, but Paul is a talented player who could push for starting time on an offensive line in rebuilding mode.
Christian Holmes, Cornerback, Oklahoma State
Washington beefs up their cornerback depth with this Christian Holmes pick. Holmes has good size and is an unafraid tackler. He can contribute on special teams and potentially refine his coverage skills enough to be a depth cornerback. Washington is relatively deep at corner, so there will be no early career pressure on Holmes to perform on defense.
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