The Washington Commanders went into the 2022 NFL Draft having just six draft selections. They would make eight selections over the weekend, and a strong day on Day 3 would help them fortify a solid 2022 draft haul.
They parlayed their eleventh overall pick, into the sixteenth overall pick and two additional picks. A deal to move down with the New Orleans Saints, netted Washington a third round and a fourth round pick – 98th and 120th overall respectively.
Washington selected Jahan Dotson with the sixteenth overall pick, and the Commanders had a strong new compliment to the passing game.
Several fan favorites were peeled off the board between the original pick, and where Washington eventually selected. The world will probably never know wether Chris Olave, Jameson Williams, or Kyle Hamilton were on the Commanders radar.
Thanks to the trade, Washington went into Day Two of the draft with two selections, instead of just one. They used both of them on Alabama players.
With their second round pick – the 47th overall – they selected the big defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis. Draft experts seem to think that was a bit of a stretch for Mathis, but many experts expected him to be a second or third round selection.
None of that really matters if a team just likes the fit of a guy, except maybe to note that perhaps they could have selected him with the next pick. And did they make any attempt to deal down a bit? Maybe still get Mathis AND an extra late pick. Again, the world will likely never know.
The more interesting dilemma, is did Washington create this need themselves by letting both Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle go via Free Agency?
It matters not, now. Mathis has the chance to get a lot of playing time behind starters Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Ioannidis certainly did in the past.
Payne did not get dealt anywhere despite reports that Washington may have been taking suitors before the draft began.
The Commanders surprised a few more people, when they took Mathis’ teammate, running back Brian Robinson Jr. The 230-pound bruising runner was projected to go in the fourth round, but do you roll the dice and wait twenty picks if you like a player?
Washington consistently decided not to in this draft.
Robinson could be a strong asset in the existing running back corps. He can provide a bigger look for goal line packages and third downs. But he is also a good security blanket should any injury happen to sideline RB1 Antonio Gibson for an extended time.
Head coach Ron Rivera expressed some frustration with the flack they had taken for some of their draft strategy.
People can pontificate as to wether or not a certain player would have been a better pick, but it takes years to judge the quality of a draft. It takes years to figure out wether or not picks pan out.
That’s why there are so many experts. There’s not a lot of accountability when it comes to grading and mocks. Most of the accountability lies in frequency of content, not necessarily accuracy.
Regardless of what people thought of the actual selections, what was mildly surprising to those not in the War Room, was that Washington had not addressed the safety or linebacker position yet.
The Commanders went into the last day of the draft, with several holes to try and fill on their roster.
Their first of the day, the 113th overall pick – was their own draft selection. They also had the 120th overall pick, thanks to the deal with the Saints.
Washington selected Percy Butler with the 113th pick. The Commanders filled a definite need with the speedy Safety out of Louisiana. Butler can potentially contribute immediately as a special teamer. He can also provide depth to a unit that can use the addition.
The 194-pound Rajun Cajun posted a 4.36 40-time, and is a solid prospect.
Washington will likely start Kamren Curl and Bobby McCain at safety, and currently have Darrick Forest in reserve. They also have Troy Apke, but he’s better served as a backup at corner.
The Commanders didn’t make the 120th pick they got from the Saints. They opted instead to bundle it with their existing sixth round pick (189th), and send it to the Carolina Panthers for two early fifth round selections. The Commanders got the 144th and 149th overall picks.
With the 144th pick, Washington got by far, their best value pick in the draft. The Commanders selected quarterback Sam Howell out of North Carolina.
The quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft, seemed to experience some weird draft day fatigue. There was considerable late talk about a few quarterbacks potentially going in the first half of the first round. But in the end, they slid much further.
While the quarterback class was originally panned as “not great”, it was surprising to see all of the top five quarterbacks stay off the board as long as they did. Especially given some of the pre-draft hype by the “experts”.
Regardless, the Commanders got a great fifth round deal in Howell. He comes into a great situation for a project quarterback. He has Wentz and Taylor Heinicke currently ahead of him on the depth chart, and time to grow and get his feet wet.
For Washington, he provides a potential longer term solution and a chance to develop your own from within. He can hold a clipboard in the QB3 position and learn for a bit. He also potentially provides a bit of a security blanket for if injuries come to Wentz and / or Heinicke.
Second Fifth Round Pick
With the 149th pick, Washington filled another need with the addition of Cole Turner. The tight end out of Nevada provides a welcome piece of depth to a unit that needs it.
The Commanders starter Logan Thomas, may or may not be back in time to start the season. Washington also has 2021 Draft pick John Bates who did well last season. But other than that, they have unproven entity Sammis Reyes and Dylan Cantrell. Turner has a legitimate shot at making the roster. Especially if Thomas can’t return by game one.
Washington also had two seventh round picks – the 230th and 240th picks overall.
With the first one, they grabbed Chris Paul, an offensive guard out of Tulsa. The big interior lineman ran a 4.89 4o at 323 pounds. He will have a chance to provide depth to a unit that saw many changes this off-season. Paul will be aided in his quest by his versatility, as he played both tackle positions and both guard positions for Tulsa.
With the 240th pick, Washington selected cornerback Christian Holmes. At 201 pounds, Holmes is a bigger than average corner. He may be ear-marked as a project at the position that has become the 2022 NFL Offseason Buzz Word – Buffalo Nickel. Washington is a little short on bodies at corner, so Holmes will have a shot at making the squad.
Wrapping It Up
An efficient third day at the Draft really improved the Commanders overall haul. They took players that could potentially fill holes throughout their lineup, and that have a shot at contributing. On top of that, Howell was a real steal in the 5th Round and jacks up their overall grade.
It may take years to actually figure out a proper grade – but on paper – the day after the draft – it looks like a solid “B” on the report card.
Washington’s Full Haul:
1st (#19): Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
2nd (#47): Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama
3rd (#98): Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Alabama
4th (#113): Percy Butler, S, Louisiana
5th (#144): Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
5th (#149): Cole Turner, TE, Nevada
7th (#230): Chris Paul, OG, Tulsa
7th (#240): Christian Holmes, CB, Oklahoma State