NFC Former Correspondent
The NFL Edition is all about building the future. In this case, it’s just a future that Commanders coach Ron Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew may not have.
It’s the strange dynamic that has been hovering over the entire franchise this offseason. By all indications, the franchise will soon be sold by controversial owner Dan Snyder. And other than a spectacular Super Bowl run this season, it’s hard to imagine that a new owner wouldn’t want to deploy his own people to run the team.
So whether they’ll admit it or not, Mayhew and Rivera need players who can help now, who are probably ready to step up to some bigger roles so they can get as much support as possible around quarterback Sam Howell. Can do They cannot establish projects, especially in the beginning. They might not take any chances.
They know they need NFL ready players because deep down they know they have to win.
They may not say so, but it’s a good bet that it will be a matter of which players they ultimately draft. So here’s a look at how eight of his picks could play in the NFL draft:
1. Round 1, 16th overall: Illinois cb devon witherspoon
The Commanders’ corner pair, Benjamin Saint-Just and Kendall Fuller, were really good last season. However, neither is. 1 corner. Furthermore, Fuller is in the final year of his contract. The 5-11, 181-pound Witherspoon is widely considered one of the top three running backs in this year’s class, but his stock has been hurt by a hamstring injury that kept him out of the combine and his Pro Day. He will have private practices for NFL teams on April 5, which could be significant. Scouts say he’s an aggressive, physical player with a nose for the ball, as he showed last year with three interceptions and 17 passes defended in 12 games.
2. Second round, 47th overall: Oregon State TE luke musgrave
Every young quarterback should have a well-received tight end in his arsenal. Sure, the Commanders still have Logan Thomas, but he’s 32 years old, played in just 20 games over the past two seasons, and looked like a shell of himself last season. In fact, he only had one good season. Upgrades to this design are available quickly, and the 6-6, 253-pound Musgrave is a big one. He didn’t do much in college and was mostly injured last season, but those who saw him at the Senior Bowl praised his potential. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go out in the first round.
3. Third Round, 97th overall: Ohio State C luke wypler
The Commanders are so uncertain about the future of C Chase Roulier (broken foot in 2021, torn MCL in 2022) that they signed free agent Nick Gates, who carries his own injury risk. Mayu was not even committed to including Rollier in the team. So some depth and youthfulness seems necessary in this ceremony. At 6-3, 303, Waypler is a good size and can play right away, though adding some power might be better.
4. Round 4, 118th Overall: Georgia S Christopher Smith
The Commanders like Kam Curl and hope to give him a contract extension, and he had four interceptions from Derrick Forrest last year, so he’s generally good at this position. The 5-11, 192-pound Smith would add some competition and depth. He is a bit vulnerable, but he is quick, strong and very strong in cover.
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5. Round 5, 150th overall: Missouri Day Isaiah McGuire
Chaz Young is still an unknown until he proves he is fully back from his ACL injury. He could also enter the final year of his contract if the team does not pick up on his fifth-year option. Montez Sweat is also in its final year. So they need reinforcements on the defensive end. McGuire (6-4, 268) had 14.5 sacks over the past two seasons and has proven to be a potent pass rusher. His running defense needs some work, but he could be a situational player behind Sweat and Young before either one is replaced in the future.
6. Round 6, 193rd overall: oklahoma rb Eric Gray
It remains to be seen what kind of attack Eric Bienemy can and will launch in Washington, where commanders, led by Ron Rivera, have always been first. They are very keen to get behind the back committee led by Brian Robinson. And while they’d like to see Antonio Gibson as a second back, he’s in the final year of his contract and doesn’t relish his limited role. The 5-9, 207-pound Gray is a dual-threat who could start as a third-down back and become more over time. He had 1,366 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 33 passes as a senior for the Sooners, so he can definitely handle any kind of job.
7. Round 6, 215th Overall Cincinnati cb Arkon Bush
Drafts in the secondary are essential for teams in today’s pass-happy NFL. Bush has the size (187 yards) and speed (4.54) to be good in the NFL. He was overshadowed in college by Sauce Gardner and Kobe Bryant, but he held up well in 2021 when he had Nickelodeon behind him and teams pitched on him the most. He had three interceptions that season and nine in his college career, so he definitely has a nose for the ball.
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8. Round 7, 233rd overall: Indiana LB cam jones
The Commanders aren’t very deep at linebacker, and the 6-1, 226-pound Jones can’t help right away. However, his speed (4.69) gives him an opportunity and could make him a valuable special teams player early on. He actually started his college career as a safety for the Sooners. He looked set for a big senior year, but a foot injury ended five games. He is a physical player, but may need to put on some weight in order to survive in an NFL defense.
Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He covered the Giants and Jets for New York’s SNY TV for the last six years, and before that covered the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News for 16 years. follow him on twitter @Ralph Vacchiano,
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