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NFC East draft reviews: Washington Commanders edition

NFL: NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the newest entry in our NFC East draft review series, it’s time to analyze the Washington Commanders.

PREVIOUSLY: Philadelphia Eagles draft review | New York Giants draft review.

Emmanuel Forbes, Cornerback, Mississippi State

#57 Overall Player, #9 Overall Cornerback

Emmanuel Forbes looks like a star on tape. Forbes has great footwork, agility and speed to move in coverage with any level of athlete, he has great awareness in zone, and does a great job attacking the ball in coverage. Forbes’ 14 career interceptions through three seasons is a testament to the kind of special ballhawk he is and six of those picks going for touchdowns show he is dangerous with the ball in his hands.

The big concern for Forbes is size. Yes he stands tall at almost 6’1” with long arms, but he showed up to the combine weighing 166 pounds (zeroth percentile!). Size is something that can and has been overcome in the NFL, just ask DeVonta Smith, but 166 pounds is unprecedented for a cornerback. Forbes being such a great mover and technical cornerback helped him dominate in the SEC, but how does that look against equally athletic and skilled receivers who are much bigger than him? CeeDee Lamb weighs more than 30 pounds heavier than Forbes. AJ Brown weighs sixty pounds more than him. These numbers matter when trying to press a receiver at the line, win at the catch point against him, or try to tackle him.

It makes sense that someone bet on Forbes because the tape was good, but if he succeeds he will be the first of his type to do so.

Jartavius Martin, Safety, Illinois

#94 Overall Player, #9 Overall Safety

Jartavius Martin is a highly athletic defensive back and at 5’11” and nearly 200 pounds, Martin also has the build to play multiple positions in a defensive backfield. And he has! Martin played cornerback and both safety positions during his time at Illinois. He does his best work in the slot, close to the line of scrimmage where he can contribute as a run defender. Martin is a physical player who makes life difficult for pass catchers in the intermediate level of the field and can deliver big hits on ball carriers. Martin is probably a slot defender and strong safety in the NFL, lacking the long speed or range to cover deep.

Washington clearly wants to get playmakers in their secondary and Martin makes a lot of sense as a high quality role player.

Ricky Stromberg, Interior Offensive Lineman, Arkansas

#129 Overall Player, #9 Overall Interior Offensive Lineman

Ricky Stromberg is an old school center with decent size and packing a lot of punch and power. Stromberg does his best getting downhill in the run game where he can bully defensive lineman. He is not an overly quick player, however, and struggled in pass protection against more athletic defensive tackles. Stromberg has the tools to be a decent player in the right scheme, but will need to perfect his technique to overcome a lack of quickness against NFL level athletes.

Braeden Daniels, Offensive Lineman, Utah

Braeden Daniels makes sense as a developmental option on the Washington line. Daniels is a very good athlete with a big frame, but needs to fill out a bit more before he goes up against NFL defensive linemen. As a Day 3 pick, going for a higher upside lineman is always a smart bet.

KJ Henry, Edge Defender, Clemson

#124 Overall Player, #15 Overall Edge Defender

This was a sneaky good pick by the Commanders. KJ Henry got lost in the shuffle of a very good defensive line class, but he is the type of player that could contribute early and often in his career. Henry was outshined on a star studded Clemson defense year after year, but he was a workman-like player who played every snap with a ton of energy. Henry is a very good run defender and brings a relentlessness to rushing the passer. While he won’t ever star on the Commanders line, he will certainly be a very solid rotational piece.

Also worth mentioning that Henry was very well regarded in the Clemson locker room and brings great character with him to the NFL.

Chris Rodriguez Jr., Running Back, Kentucky

Chris Rodriguez Jr. is a bit of a throwback at the running back position. He is a decent athlete, but wins mostly with a patient, powerful running style that pairs well with his well built frame. Rodriguez did not show much at Kentucky catching the ball, but will immediately be able to contribute as a two-down back in Washington’s new-look offense.

Andre Jones Jr., Edge Defender, Louisiana

Andre Jones played six years at Louisiana and will be turning 25 during his rookie season. Jones was drafted mostly because of his pass rushing prowess: combining a quick first step and a high motor to generate regular pressure. Jones is lighter at the edge defender position and may be more of a situational type. Most likely, Jones will be a core special teamer and a deep rotational player.

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