OPINION: The Die-Hard Commanders Fan’s Reaction to the 2023 NFL Draft

The 2023 NFL Draft. It’s one of the best times of the year for football fans, especially in the offseason as we wait for our teams to take the field in September.

As a Commanders fan, I have been waiting excitedly for this weekend as the draft is always so fun to watch and react to. Last year, I remember the frustration when the team drafted Jahan Dotson 16th overall after a trade-down only to be better with the pick the next day, and look what he did last year-that was a pretty good pick.

For this draft I want to give you my immediate reactions to all of the Washington Commanders draft picks as a die-hard fan, but keep in mind I am nowhere any kind of a collegiate scout. I don’t watch much college football, so I am going off of what the analysts and experts say, and I also let the highlight videos do the talking.

Pre-Draft Prediction

This part of the story will serve as my prediction for the coming first round, I am writing this a little after 4:30 and we are around three-and-a-half hours away from the Carolina Panthers being on the clock and who knows how long until Washington is on the clock.

I have read and listened to a many of mock drafts spanning from NFL Insiders both national and those on the Commanders beat on TV or Twitter as well as fan mock drafts and general NFL YouTuber mock drafts and this season has offered a wide variety of outcomes for the Commanders.

Some say offensive tackle, some say cornerback, others tight end, quarterbacks as well as Texas running back Bijan Robinson, but I will make my one last general prediction for what the team will do when they are on the clock.

I predict we will come away tonight with one of Darnell Wright, a tackle from Tennessee or Emmanuel Forbes a cornerback from Mississippi State. I say we get one of them as most of the local reporters that cover the Commanders believe that the team loves Wright and Forbes has been gaining traction to be the pick possibly at 16th or if the team trades back. Reports indicate that the team wants to trade back, but the team hasn’t exactly been quiet about that.

While I am expecting one of Wright or Forbes, I will say that I remember reports from the last two drafts on who the team liked and what happened. In 2021, the team reportedly liked guard Alijah Vera Tucker, but the Jets took him before Washington could take him and last year, the team reportedly like wide receiver Drake London, but again a team (this time the Atlanta Falcons) took him before they were up.

Well with that being said, I’ll be back with my reaction to the brand-new Commander.

Night 1

Round 1: Pick 16

With the 16th pick the Washington Commanders select Emmanuel Forbes CB Mississippi State. Man, I wish I was wrong there. I’d feel better about this pick if Christian Gonzales was not on the board. Forbes better become an elite shut down corner or I will be livid. It sounds like he has skills but man I was wanting Christian Gonzales only for him to go the next pick.

Night 2

Ok so one day later, I am coming around to the Forbes pick, his interception count is impressive and if he can do that here in the NFL then he’ll be a stud, but here’s what I want in the 2nd and 3rd rounds for Washington.

For the second-round pick currently 47th overall barring a trade I think the Commanders will either go OL, TE or Hendon Hooker QB from Tennessee. The team has a big need at the OL and given the run on tackles in the first round, they still need to draft someone who could contribute there. I have seen Matthew Bergeron from Syracuse be a name to watch, also Dawand Jones from Ohio State is currently on the board and I would love for him to fall to us, but I kind of doubt it. I’m open to any of the Tight Ends on the board depending on who’s available. Michael Mayer from Notre Dame fell out of the first and could go early, there’s also guys like Darnell Washington from Georgia, Luke Musgrave and Sam LaPorta to name a few, and while I don’t really have any preference, Mayer or Washington would be nice, but I think I’d be fine with any of the top tight ends at 47. Hendon Hooker would anger a lot of fans, but I would be alright with it. Will Levis falling out of the first was a surprise so I think it is possible Hooker falls to us at 47 and the Commanders do reportedly have an interest in him. I did love the Sam Howell pick last year and he looked solid last year in the Dallas game, but if they think Hendon Hooker can be a good starting quarterback, take him. Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett are fine quarterbacks to have, but don’t think you are fine with them and Jake Fromm as the 3rd stringer (he sucks). Pick 97 will likely be best player available and I’m not sure what they do there yet. The pick comes at the end of the third round, so who knows what players are going to be there and what positions the team wants to address there, it all depends on the pick at 47 or wherever they pick if they trade down.

Round 2: Pick 47

After selecting Forbes at 16 the team goes with Jartavius “Quan” Martin DB from Illinois. What? What? Didn’t you draft a corner at 16 last night and don’t you have a need at the offensive line? I’m baffled by the pick, Ron Rivera and company are bungling this draft. Corner was the last position they should have gone there. Dawand Jones and Hendon Hooker would have been far better picks here I am just at a loss for words. What a disaster.

Round 3: Pick 97

This is probably my favorite pick of the draft so far, but I feel like its not a home run, just a solid pick. The team selected center Ricky Stromberg from Arkansas. While we finally got a lineman, I question the position as the team currently has Chase Roullier, Tyler Larsen and newly-signed Nick Gates at center. Unless Stromberg is going to be a guard here, he is likely the starting center of the future and it means one of those veterans could be gone. Roullier has been dealing with serious leg injuries the last two years and with his contract he has been a likely cap-casualty. Then there’s Larsen who is a solid backup

and maybe Nick Gates will play guard this season either as a backup or as the potential starter at left guard. Either way Stromberg is a fine pick.

Day 3

Ok so here we are. It’s the last day of the draft and the team still has big needs. The team could realistically go OL again, TE perhaps, running back because you need to fill JD McKissic’s roster sport, quarterback and maybe linebacker? But the draft is already so unpredictable and this staff with their evaluations make it even more so. Whatever they don’t draft in terms of position, I expect to add through undrafted free agents and veteran free agents.

Round 4: Pick 118

Ok another good pick. The Commanders selected Braeden Daniels a tackle from Utah. The NFL Network broadcast said he was athletic and that he played tackle and guard, so it has Ron’s precious position flex, but hey we could have a solid tackle right or a pretty good guard there. I like the pick.

Round 5: Pick 137

OK we have a trade. The Commanders trade picks 150 and 215 for pick 137 and with the 137th pick, the Commanders select edge rusher KJ Henry from Clemson. Another good value draft pick. With the uncertainty of Chase Young and Montez Sweat’s future as well as having Shaka Toney suspended the entire year for gambling edge is a position of need and he was one of the better prospects still on the board according to NFL Network. Hoping Henry pans out.

Round 6: Pick 193

After a long wait, the Commanders are back on the board and selected Chris Rodriguez Jr. running back from Kentucky. We needed a running back and we got one, the only question I have is which role he will play as a running back? Lance Zierlein of NFL.com says that hes “is a powerful runner” so I guess he will serve as the immediate backup to Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson will be the 3rd down pass catcher back to replace JD McKissic. Not a bad pick, fills a need and he could be a good back to help out our offense.

Round 7: Pick 233

With their final pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Commanders select Andre Jones a linebacker from Louisiana. I think I heard the pick being read as a defensive end, but still whether he’s a DE or LB it fills a hole on the roster and if he is played at LB specifically then it fills a depth spot at a position of need.

Final Thoughts

This was a fine draft, we filled holes and addressed needs, we made some picks that at the time I questioned but have since started to come around to but at the end of the day, we need to have hit on Emmanuel Forbes and Quan Martin. We spend a first and second-rounder on the secondary and with Benjamin St. Juste and Kendall Fuller at corner already plus Kam Curl and Darrick Forrest at safety, this HAS to be a lockdown secondary that is at least top-10 to top-5 in takeaways, especially given that Forbes was drafted for his takeaway ability. With that being said I can’t wait for my reactions to age like cheese and all of these guys turn out to be studs, but as is tradition in the NFL Draft, you’ve got to wait and see.

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