PHOTOS: Meet the Washington Commanders’ 2022 NFL draft class

May 2, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 30: (L-R) Hosts Scott Hanson and Kimmi Chex and Washington Commanders fan Monica Blakely react to the Commanders' 144th overall pick during fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 30, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

I said who I thought Washington should pick with their six draft selections going into the 2022 NFL Draft. But as the Commanders traded their way to eight total selections, here’s how they spent their draft capital across the three-day draft.

Note: This gallery will have a positive spin for three reasons — 1) I’m about to get really negative in my column about Washington’s draft, 2) we have no idea how good these players are until they get at least 2-3 seasons to show their stuff and 3) I’m feeling pretty humble about so many of my own picks for the Commanders going undrafted.

Anyways, meet the first-ever class of Washington Commanders:

Round 1 (16th overall) — Jahan Dotson, WR Penn State

You can tell why Washington was smitten with Dotson: Great hands, great speed (4.43 in the 40-yard-dash) and a really productive senior season in Happy Valley (91 catches for 1,182 yards and 13 touchdowns). If he lives up to his NFL comparisons (Emmanuel Sanders, Tyler Lockett), this is a better pick than it appears to be initially.

Round 2 (47th overall) — Phidarian Mathis, DT Alabama

Apparently, Washington’s obsession with Alabama defenders didn’t leave with Bruce Allen.

The Commanders said goodbye to Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis this offseason, and appear ready to move on from Da’Ron Payne imminently, so defensive tackle is definitely a need. Mathis was a team captain for Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa and his nine-sack final season with the Crimson Tide is impressive. He’ll need to replicate that in Washington if we’re going to forget how much of a reach this initially appears to be.

Round 3 (98th overall) — Brian Robinson Jr., RB Alabama

Washington needed a big, physical runner to complement the shifty Antonio Gibson and they got one in Robinson. Much like Nick Chubb at Georgia, he waited his turn, made the most of his opportunity late in his college career and figures to be a steal as a big, bruiser out of the backfield in the pros that surprises some as a legit receiving threat.

Round 4 (113th overall) — Percy Butler, S Louisiana-Lafayette

Commanders fans should love hearing the word “dominant” attached to a fourth-round pick. Butler is considered an elite special-teamer, which fans of the Joe Gibbs era will quickly attest is one-third of the game that’s just as important as offense or defense. The success of the Butler pick will be determined by how much he contributes to the defense.

Round 5 (144th overall) — Sam Howell, QB North Carolina

Washington needed a quarterback and they got one!

Howell was a three-year starter for the Tar Heels, finding the end zone in every one of his 37 career games. He was one of only five QBs in FBS to throw for 20+ touchdowns and rush for double-digit scores in 2021, which speaks to his ability as a dual threat in a league desperate for such players. There’s a case for Howell being the steal of the draft, and given the massive question marks surrounding Carson Wentz, it’s not a stretch to think Howell could be the starter here by 2024.

Round 5 (149th overall) — Cole Turner, TE Nevada

Washington feels they got a potential impact player here — enough so that Ron Rivera compared Turner to his Pro Bowl tight end in Carolina, Greg Olsen.

I wouldn’t go that far but I see why they liked him: a 6-foot-6, 246-pound target in the red zone is all kinds of fun for a QB. This feels like a project pick but given last year’s fourth-round tight end, John Bates, ended up being fairly productive in more playing time than expected, perhaps Turner’s talent gets him more opportunities if Logan Thomas is slow to return to form.

Round 7 (230th overall) — Chris Paul, G Tulsa

I mean, when you have the same name as an NBA legend, that has to be a good omen, right?

I’m not sure how much Paul’s 4.89 40-yard dash is a plus (he’s really only flashing that speed if he’s chasing down defenders after a Wentz interception, after all) but he’s said to have outstanding intangibles and football IQ. Guys like that can be coached into productivity and this might be the right coaching staff to do it. Paul’s versatility makes him a logical replacement for Saadiq Charles as a flex O-lineman — and maybe even step in to sing the national anthem at local sporting events? I mean, Washington needs a breather every once in awhile, right?

Round 7 (240th overall) — Christian Holmes, CB Oklahoma State

Love the athleticism, love the size. Special teams is his immediate future.

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