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The Washington Commanders entered the 2023 NFL Draft with eight draft picks, including the No. 16 overall selection. They had several holes to fill and aspirations of turning their squad into a playoff contender.

So were they successful and how did they fare?

Washington ended up making seven selections, as they traded their picks from the 5th round (150th overall) and 6th round (215th overall), to the Buffalo Bills to move up to 137th overall in the 5th round.

Commanders 2023 Draft Picks

2023 Commanders Selections

Round 1 (16) – Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State

Round 2 (47) – Jartavius Martin, CB, Illinois

Round 3 (97, compensatory) – Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas

Round 4 (118) – Braeden Daniels, G, Utah

Round 5 (137, from Cardinals through Bills) – KJ Henry, DE, Clemson

Round 6 (193) – Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Kentucky

Round 7 (233) – Andre Jones, LB, Louisville

Round 1

The general consensus seemed to be that the Commanders were in the market for either a cornerback or an offensive lineman with their first pick. Unfortunately for Washington, the top four tackles were gone by the time they were on the clock, so they went with Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes.

The Commanders considered Forbes to be the second-best corner in the draft, behind Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon. Forbes adds depth to a Washington secondary that was lacking a consistent playmaker. He is best suited for the outside cornerback position.

Forbes is a ball hawk. He had 14 interceptions in his college career, including an FBS record six passes returned for touchdowns.

Given that Washington was 28th in the league with just nine interceptions last season, they need an injection of skill in that regard.

Grade: A-

Good player and good selection, but many will argue that Christian Gonzalez was still available and might have been a better selection.

2nd Round

In the second round, the Commanders selected Jartavius Martin, a defensive back from Illinois. The team had a need for more depth at cornerback and safety positions, and Martin’s versatility allows him to play both positions. Washington’s first-round pick, Forbes, will play on the outside, so Martin will potentially become the starting nickel corner. He can aptly fill the role that Bobby McCain used to.

Martin is a good slot corner and offers the team much-needed speed and talent in the secondary. He could thrive given the pressure Washington applies up front.

The pick opens the door for Washington to potentially release veteran Kendall Fuller who is in the final season of his contract. That move would save $8.5 million cap dollars.

Grade: B

Washington’s interest in Martin is not a surprise as they had him in for a visit before the draft. What is a surprise is that they selected him when they had already selected Forbes. Given the holes they had to fill, did Washington really have the luxury of using the first two on their secondary? That brings the value of his grade down slightly – not the player himself.

3rd Round

In the third round, the Commanders finally bolstered their offensive line. They selected center Ricky Stromberg.

Solid pick. The team needed o-line depth and Stromberg has experience at all three interior line positions. A four-year starter at Arkansas, he started his last 33 games at center after making 11 starts at guard. He earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the league’s top blocker and was an SEC first-team selection.

Where he fits in, remains to be seen. Nick Gates was signed in free agency, and he can also slot in at center or either guard position.

Veteran Chase Roullier is now an even more likely cap casualty. Depending on how it all shakes out, Andrew Norwell might also be cut to save cap.

Grade: B-

It’s a decent pick and could potentially fill a hole, but was tackle a more pressing need? That brings this grade down from a B.

4th Round

The Commanders added more depth to their offensive line with their fourth-round pick, Braeden Daniels from Utah.

Daniels played both tackle and guard in college, but was announced as a guard – which is likely where Washington intends to play him. However, at 294 pounds he will probably need to add some weight to be effective inside. He is very athletic and was an ALL Pac 12 selection.

He will likely compete for a backup role in his rookie season.

Grade: C

Washington needed offensive line help. True. But they needed help that could contribute right away and it remains to be seen if Daniels will do that. The potential for landing a starter statistically drops significantly once you get out of the first three rounds.

5th Round

Washington went back to the defensive side of the ball, and selected edge rusher KJ Henry out of Clemson. They gave up one of their sixth round picks to move up in the round and grab him. He has good length and did well on both the edge and on inside rushes. He saw action in four seasons for the Tigers.

He may be considered more of a situational pass rusher as he doesn’t defend the run particularly well.

With the team opting NOT to exercise the option on Chase Young’s contract, and Montez Sweat being a free agent next season as well, the team obviously needs to develop some talent. Backups Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams are also free agents in 2024. Are Shaka Toney and Will Bradley-King the answer? This selection would seem to indicate that Washington doesn’t think so.

Grade: C

Did they really need to give up a pick to move up and get Henry? That isn’t intended as a slight on the young edge rusher at all, but it seems an impetuous move that didn’t need to be made. That alone drops this grade sightly.

6th Round

Skills-wise, Chris Gonzalez was a solid selection in the sixth round. He posted a 6.2 yard per carry average for Kentucky.

He was productive during his college career – rushing for over 3,600 yards and 33 touchdowns in the SEC.

Brand new Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy obviously felt that he needed more depth at the position.

Gonzalez may have gone earlier were it not for a couple of off-field incidents in college that included a DUI. Hopefully they aren’t an omen of things to come.

Grade: B-

With Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson locked in already, Gonzalez offers a slightly more powerful rushing style. But considering he will likely just back up Robinson, this seems a bit of a luxury pick given the team’s holes.

7th Round

The Commanders looked to augment their defensive line again in the seventh round, with edge rusher Andre Jones out of Louisville. He’s got long arms and played six seasons of college football, so he will be a mature 25-year old rookie.

In all likelihood, he will require more development to see an NFL field on game day.

Grade: C

There were just too many holes to fill, to take a flyer on an edge rusher in the seventh round. The stable is so full that there is no way to keep all of Young, Sweat, Toohill, Smith-Williams, Toney, Bradley-King, Henry and Jones. That’s eight bodies when they won’t likely keep more than five or six. And while it is fine to put Practice Squad players in place, there are other spots on the roster that could have and should have been addressed.

Selection Grades

Round 1 (16) – Emmanuel Forbes A-

Round 2 (47) – Jartavius Martin B

Round 3 (97) – Ricky Stromberg: B-

Round 4 (118) – Braeden Daniels C

Round 5 (137) – KJ Henry: C

Round 6 (193) – Chris Rodriguez Jr: B-

Round 7 (233) – Andre Jones: C

Overall Grade:


No tight end. No (predominantly) offensive tackle. No linebacker.

This grade isn’t an indictment of the talent picked up, so much as a concession based on not filling enough holes. In many ofthe individual grades given, the score was dropped because of a lack of need rather than a lack of talent.

Talent wise the draft haul was a solid B.

In terms of filling needs and shaping out the roster, it probably gets closer to a D.


On the opening night of the draft, we tweeted out some special edition wallpapers – Washington players that had been previous first round picks.

Here are a couple of summary tweets that contain the wallpapers.


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