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DraftNerds – 2024 Washington Commanders Mock Draft

The Commanders are coming off a season that ended with eight straight losses and Sam Howell showing flaws - how do they attack the 2023 Draft?

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge over the competition. Industry professionals and content creators will spend most of the dynasty off-season discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. It is easy for us to fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver. But a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those who prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to the NFL Mock Draft Database. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned or included in this exercise.

2023 Season Recap

The Commanders lost their final eight games en route to a 4-13 finish. The offense was 25th in points scored and attempted the most passes in the NFL. The rushing attack was near the bottom of the league, and both Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson were more valuable as pass-catching backs. Sam Howell was amongst the top fantasy points-scoring quarterbacks for the first half of the season but threw 12 INTs in the final seven games.

The defense allowed the most points in the NFL and was torched through the air repeatedly, allowing the most yards and TDs. They also traded their two best pass rushers, Chase Young and Josh Sweat, on Halloween.

The team must aggressively target the offense and defense in this draft. At the second pick, the long-term answer at QB (hopefully) will be there. They also have a few picks early in the second round to attack the defense.

1.01 – Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

After Caleb Williams went 1.01 in our series, Maye is the next best option up and is perhaps the safer prospect at the position.

Maye is going to push to start right away, but Howell is still on the team if the Commanders decide to let Maye learn the ropes. Ironically, Maye was the man in North Carolina after Howell and backed up Howell in 2021.

There is a lot to love about Maye; he’s got an innate ability to move in the pocket and is dangerous when he takes off to run. He varies speed and throws with anticipation and can drive passes into tight windows. Maye can make plays when on the move and throws a beautiful ball from many angles.

There is a bit too much of a risk-taker in his game, and he’s aggressive to a fault at times. Maye will need to learn to use his checkdowns, particularly running backs, to take his game to the next level in the NFL.

2.36 Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama

Knowing I had two early second-round picks, I wanted to get the Commander’s pass-rushing help with both of them. The first off the board for me was Braswell, who had eight sacks for the Crimson Tide in 2023.

At 6’3″ and 255 pounds, Braswell is going to be used more as a standup linebacker to get after the QB. He’s got long arms and uses an array of moves to win, including a cross-chop and rip move. He keeps his legs moving through contact and has enough speed to get around the edge, with a solid ability to get a bend on the corner.

I’d like to see how he tests in agility – on tape, his change of direction seems to be slower, and he doesn’t have an elite burst. Braswell has lots of tools in the tool belt and should make an immediate impact in an area of need.

2.40 Adisa Isaac, EDGE, Penn State

Perhaps a bit early, Isaac is a player whose best football is ahead of him, and his upside is hard to ignore. He’s got a nasty bull rush and a strong rip move. Isaac couples those with a relentless motor to be an effective rusher.

Isaac is another standup linebacker in size, 6’4″ and 247 pounds, but is surprisingly effective as a rusher with his hand in the dirt. He uses his hands well and has a good enough burst to surprise the offensive lineman. His lack of play strength may get exposed at times, but Isaac can win with technique and speed.

3.67 Sedrick Van Pran, IOL, Georgia

As far as offensive linemen go, I defer more to the experts, and Ian Cummings has a phenomenal scouting report here. Van Pran has started for several seasons, starting 43 straight games for the Bulldogs. He’s a strong interior lineman who can play Guard or Center for Washington. He should start from Day 1.

3.100 Mar’Keise “Bucky” Irving, RB, Oregon

The Commanders likely continue to address defense here, but this is a dynasty article, and I want offense! It was so hard to pass up a player like Irving here, and he could be Maye’s best friend. And he provides something the Commanders’ offense desperately needs – explosiveness.

Irving has speed, explosiveness, ability to force missed tackles, and can accelerate to top speed in a hurry. He’s a bit smaller at 5’10” and 195 pounds, but he’s going to impress at the combine with elite athleticism. Sometimes, Irving can try too hard to create the big play, and it causes him to lose yardage. His patience isn’t a strong asset and the size will deter him from getting a massive workload. But his playmaking will complement either Brian Robinson or Antonio Gibson – I am willing to bet the Commanders will move on from one of those backs, likely Gibson.

4.102 Payton Wilson, LB, NC State

One of my favorite players in the class, Wilson’s 2023 tape was impressive, but he does have an injury history littered with different injuries. Wilson can do almost everything from the linebacker position. He’s got great size (6’4″, 238 lbs.), impressive range, and is solid in pass defense. He can also get after the passer, and I love his instincts – he’s always around the ball and making plays.

Wilson will be 24 on draft day, but he’s still got a lot of time to be an impactful player in the NFL. He can be a bit eager to blow up plays – sometimes, a good play action will lead to his assignment being open due to his over-pursuit.

5.137 Dallin Holker, TE, Colorado State

I absolutely love Holker as a pass-catching option at tight end, and perhaps the Commanders would rather have a TE who is better at blocking. But the receiving core needs better options as well, and Maye will love what Hollker brings to the offense.

Holker has phenomenal soft hands and uses good technique to create separation in his routes. He plays more like a receiver and can track the bell impressively. The Commanders would use him more in-line and as a big-slot most likely. He can block well for his 6’3″ and 230-pound size, but it’s definitely not a strength.

6.180 Tykee Smith, S, Georgia

Smith measures 5’9″ and 195 pounds; he’s a versatile defender who played all over the defense at Athens. He’s not afraid to get physical and can be played as a nickel corner, safety, in run defense and works best when asked to play underneath. Smith has enticing athleticism, and from playing at Georgia, his versatility was on full display in high-profile situations.

7. 219 Joshua Cephus, WR, UTSA

Finally, I wanted to give the Commanders a receiver that could excel given some time to develop. Cephus is primarily a deep threat for now and wasn’t asked to run a varied route tree in college. He’s got strong ball skills and great hands, with good concentration on contested catch situations.

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2 Responses

  1. Where do you get tape on defensive players….I play in several IDP leagues and I just don’t know where to find any

    1. Hey Joel- I don’t know of a place with individual cutups of defensive players – I do a lot of the offensive players and always watch the defensive guys when I can and just watch a lot of college ball in general.

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