By Adam Aniba
The 2022 NFL Draft is finally here! This might be the most unpredictable 1st round in recent memory and it's anybodies guess who the top 5 selections could be. Without a marquee QB expected to go within the Top 5, a few DE's and OT's are projected to go in that range. What does this mean for Washington?
After the Carson Wentz trade, it's all but certain the Commanders will pass on a QB with pick #11. Receiver is a position of need, lucky for the Commanders this class is extremely deep and talented. The class also features a few defensive backs that could make an immediate impact. The Top 50 will also feature a few linebackers that could elevate Jack Del Rio's unit.
The teams to watch in the Top 10 are DET, HOU, ATL and CAR. The Texans and Falcons in particular, traded away their signal callers and could be players to draft a quarterback, but also have needs at WR.
The cliche statement this draft season, it's a weak QB class. The truth is Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corral will likely all go within the top 50 and 2 possibly going in the top 15. Teams will also be attempting to trade back and a few quarterback needy teams like the Steelers and Saints, could be players to move up and shake up the 1st round.
The Steelers in particular, could make the call to Washington. Considering Mitch Trubsiky looks to be a short term solution for Pittsburgh. need at QB is all in my latest Mock Draft. (7-Round Mock Draft Trade Edition)
Taking BPA at #11
Although Washington has two entrenched starters at OT for the '22 season, MSU's Charles Cross and Alabama's Evan Neal could be on the board. Washington could consider drafting an offensive tackle, but this seems like the least likely scenario, next to selecting an edge rusher early.
The DB Scenario
The consensus top 3 defensive backs are Cincinnati CB Ahmed Gardner, LSU CB Derek Stingley. and ND FS Kyle Hamilton. It's very likely, one or more of them could be available, putting the Commanders in a position to potentially add a major difference maker on defense.
On the other side of the coin, they've gone the defensive route with 4 out of last 5 first round selections. Both Wiliam Jackson III and Kendall Fuller are not long term solutions, with both more suited as CB2's. If Stingley slips, he will certainly be a consideration.
As far as free safety, Bobby McCain was re-signed after looking better in the second half of the season, recording 4 few interceptions on the year. McCain is a short term solution and if the Notre Dame Kyle Hamilton safety is available, he could pair with Cam Curl, providing Washington with the best safety tandem in the NFC East for years to come.
The year's WR class is the deepest group in the draft, which extends through Day 3. As mentioned, Wentz will need all the firepower he can get to have success in Washington. McLauirn leads a group with more questions than answers.
Curtis Samuel was signed to be WR2, but struggled to stay healthy, only active in 5 games with 6 rec 27 yards receiving. As for 2nd year WR Dyami Brown and Cam Sims, their roles are expected to be complimentary. Hopes are high that Brown will have a breakout season, now having a QB that can feed him on go-routes. The bottom line is, Rivera will have to address receiver early in this draft, but will they pull the trigger at #11 or #47 in Round 2?
The top receivers in this class are Jameson Williams (ALA), OSU's Garrett Wilson & Chris Olave, Treylon Burks (ARK), Jahan Dotson (PSU), Drake London (USC) and Christian Watson (NDSU). The depth in this group extends thru Rounds 2-3 with UGA's George Pickens, David Bell (PUR), Skyy Moore (WMICH), John Metchie III (ALA), Calvin Austin III (MEM), Alec Pierce (CIN) and Jalen Tolbert (S.ALA).
Williams and Wilson have the type of talent that would justify a selection at #11. As for the others, they represent better value in a trade back scenario.
The Dark Horse Option
Although Ron Rivera mentioned Cole Holcomb will likely be the '22 MIKE linebacker, two linebackers will likely be available at #11 with tremendous upside.
UGA's Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd (UTAH) are possibilities, but will need a season or so to develop into a full time MLB in Jack Del Rio's defense.After selecting Jamin Davis at #19 in '21, Washington seems unlikly to go that route again. If they aren't sold on either of those two at #11, Day 2-3 features Wyoming's Chad Muma and Troy Anderson (MSU) just to name two high-end non 1st rounders.
Rivera has a lot of pressure to hit on their 1st rounder, after mixed reviews with the Davis selection in '21. Who ever they select at #11 or in a trade back, will be expected to contribute this year. Happy Draft night Commanders fans!
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