2022 NFL DRAFT DEEP DIVE: Washington Commanders
By Paul Mainwaring
The NFL Draft is over, and we cannot head into the three-month abyss that is the offseason without looking at what all 262 selections mean for each franchise. Whilst too early to judge just how successful a draft class each team’s was, we can look at how rookies fit within schemes, where they stand on depth charts, and who we can expect to make an impact in 2022. We continue our team by team series with the Washington Commanders:
|1||16||Jahan Dotson||WR||Penn State|
|5||144||Sam Howell||QB||North Carolna|
|7||240||Christian Holmes||CB||Oklahoma State|
Every team in the NFL always highlights to reporters that they would like to trade down and obtain additional picks, and the Commanders got to do that by trading from 11 to 16. In the final weeks of the draft, it was always assumed Washington would try and get an additional weapon for Carson Wentz and with their favourite two players (London and Olave) gone they selected Jahan Dotson from Penn State with the 16th pick.
Dotson is an excellent pass catcher with a massive catch radius for his 5’11” size, and given the sometimes scattergun nature of the QB this has to be a good thing. Given the continuous injuries for Curtis Samuel, I would expect Dotson to become the WR2 straight away, and adding him to McLaurin could give the Commanders an excellent 1-2 punch at wideout.
Although I don’t believe many are questioning the talent of Dotson, he was seen as an end of the first-round pick – so to take him at 16 is a reach. There were a number of talented players they could have taken at 11 who they may regret long term, notably Kyle Hamilton. However, the Washington offense has been stagnant for the majority of the last decade and I am not sure fans will complain if Dotson gives them a little more juice.
On Day 2 Washington had two picks, and they went back to their favourite college for both of them – The University of Alabama. With the 47th pick, the Commanders selected Phidarian Mathis, the Crimson Tide Defensive Tackle. With no contract in sight for Daron Payne and the losses of Settle and Ioannidis, the pick of Mathis makes sense for depth and succession planning. At 47 it could be seen as a reach as many had him as a 3rd round talent due to inconsistencies, especially as a pass rusher. But if he progresses getting to the quarterback that will give more space for Young and Sweat to do damage.
With the 98th pick, Washington selected Running Back Brian Robinson, also from ‘Bama. Robinson is seen as a bruising back who last season averaged 5.0 yards against SEC defenses, which is nothing to sniff at. He wasn’t a pick for need but there will be hope he can help the offense from day one, especially as Washington has never given Gibson a full workload and this move I assume means even less snaps for him. It was surprising that after the first two days Washington hadn’t tried to address their secondary, but the two picks show the way Ron Rivera believes teams need to win in the NFL.
Day 3 saw the Commanders make five selections, three on offense and two on defense. On offense they were the team that took the plunge and drafted North Carolina QB Sam Howell – more on him later. The other two offensive selections were tight end Cole Turner from Nevada and Chris Paul, a guard from Tulsa. With Logan Thomas recovering from an ACL and the other TE options nothing to shout about Turner has a chance to start and contribute early in the season. For Paul it may be a slower progression, with the expectation that he is a backup in year one – although with the uncertainty at right guard a good camp may see him progress faster than I expect.
The defensive players selected on day 3 were safety Percy Butler from Louisiana, and Christian Holmes – a corner from Oklahoma State. Butler will at worst be an excellent special teamer this season, however i am sure the Commanders will expect him to develop fast and contribute in the secondary given his excellent open field speed. Christian Holmes will also look to develop from being a special teamer to consistent defensive snaps. Washington is in dire need of cornerback depth, so with a good camp Holmes has a chance to be on the field a lot this season – and Washington will hope the multiple years he had in the Big 12 will set him up correctly for the pass-happy NFL.
One To Watch: Sam Howell
Given the buzz around Howell prior to his final college season, and given where he was drafted, it would be stupid not to make him the one to watch for the Commanders from this year’s draft class. Prior to his final season in Chapel Hill Howell was seen as a first round pick – and possibly the first overall pick – given his first two seasons for North Carolina. However a very disappointing final season and concerns raised by scouts and draftniks alike meant Howell fell all the way to 144.
Now given the trade for Carson Wentz no-one is expecting Howell to start anytime soon. But considering the version of Wentz we have seen in the NFL in recent year,s and the potential Howell had shown prior to last year, this is a gamble that could pay off massively. Washington fans will hope everything goes okay with Wentz, and that Howell is given time to progress under Scott Turner and the offensive staff. But they will also remain hopeful this leap of faith can pay off big time, and the Commanders get the player everyone expected prior to his final season for the Tar Heels.
|Jequez Ezzard||WR||Sam Houston State|
|Curtis Hodges||TE||Arizona State|
|Cole Kelley||QB||Southeast Louisiana|
|Kyric McGowan||WR||Georgia Tech|
|Jacub Panasiuk||EDGE||Michigan State|
|Devin Taylor||CB||Bowling Green|
|Drew White||LB||Notre Dame|
The Commanders needed a playmaker and they believe they have one in Dotson. If this works out this draft will be seen as a success, but if Dotson struggles and players like Hamilton and Olave who the Commanders passed on thrive, this could be the last draft from this regime. If this does happen their successors may be left with a gem in Sam Howell, but there are many steps he will have to take before he is able to be the starter in the DMV. Overall, an okay draft, which will be viewed as a success or failure based on how two players pan out.
A former UKEndzone writer, Paul has been dragged out of an enforced retirement to give his thoughts on the NFL and anything else he can slide past the editorial team.
Paul is most famous (infamous?) as Mainz one half of Waxing Lyrical. alongside his Partner in Crime Neil ‘Dutts’ Dutton.
Find him @Mainzey7 where all manner of sports are on the menu.