The Washington Commanders have six selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, one less than last year. While the jury remains out on the 2021 crop, we can safely say there have been plenty of good, bad and ugly selections recently. This week will likely give us a little of each.
This year’s crop offers up only a pair of top-100 selections (last year there were four). While there are good players to be found throughout the draft, there’s more rough than diamonds after the third round.
Let’s take a look at the type of players taken with each of Washington’s picks over the last seven years, from the best to the “bust.” And you’ll be surprised to see who Washington’s taken with each of these selections in the past.
First Round (11)
Everybody was thinking quarterback until the Commanders traded for quarterback Carson Wentz. Many think the team will get Wentz a weapon here or in the second round. There’s also the back seven of the defense that needs a talent upgrade, and one can never have too many offensive linemen to keep Wentz upright.
Pre-free agency, you could go all-in on need, but with many guys leaving after three to four years nowadays, the cliché “best available” rings true here.
Last Year: Chicago took Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, one pick ahead of Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons who notched 13 sacks for Dallas.
Best: Miami selected Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2018, and the two-time All-Pro has tallied 13 interceptions over the last five years.
Bust: Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton was picked by the New York Jets in 2020 and has played in 15 games over the last two seasons. Meanwhile, Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs went to Tampa Bay two picks later, started 33 games and was a 2021 All-Pro.
Burgundy & Gold: Washington hasn’t chosen a player 11th overall since 1936 … as in the very first draft. Stanford end Keith Topping has never played a down in the NFL.
Second Round (47)
How huge is this pick? With no selections until 113, it’s imperative Washington bring in a contributor. The second round still has the smell of 2008 when Vinny Cerrato picked three receivers who washed out because of ineffectiveness, injury, and a faulty alarm clock.
Last Year: Florida State defensive back Assante Samuel went to the Los Angeles Chargers and made 12 starts, intercepting a pair of passes. Georgia linebacker Azeez Ojulari was still available and, after being taken 50th by the New York Giants, notched eight sacks while starting 13 games.
Best: New Orleans picked Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas in 2016 and he rewarded them with two All-Pro and three Pro Bowl seasons in five years before missing 2021 with an ankle injury.
Bust: Seattle selected Utah safety Marquise Blair in 2019 and he has played in just a pair of games over the last three years. New Orleans took Texas A&M center Erik McCoy with the next pick, and he has started for the Saints since his rookie year.
Burgundy & Gold: In 2013 Washington picked Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy who started 22 games over three years before signing with Buffalo. He did not play last season. Other picks at this spot: Cal offensive tackle Larry Lutz (1936) and Arizona State defensive end Shane Collins (1992).
Fourth Round (113)
Day three of the draft can deliver feast or famine, usually with a side order of special teams. And let’s not forget Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott were taken in the fourth round. You like that?
Last Year: Detroit picked Purdue defensive end Derrick Barnes, who would record two sacks while playing in all 17 games (the new regular season length still feels weird to me). The Lions also had the 112th selection and chose USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who produced 90 receptions for 912 yards and five touchdowns — proof that instant production can be found this late in the draft.
Best: The Los Angeles Chargers took Miami safety Rayshawn Jenkins in 2017 and he developed into a two-year starter before signing with Jacksonville during the last offseason.
Bust: Detroit made Auburn defensive tackle Gabe Wright their choice in 2015, and he played just fifteen games over four seasons. He hasn’t been on an NFL roster since 2018.
Burgundy & Gold: Remember Shawn Barber (1998)? The Richmond linebacker was a two-year starter and ranked second in tackles for the 1999 NFC East champs. He survived the Norv to Marty transition, but not the Schottenheimer to Spurrier change. Barber would play from 2002-07 for Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Houston.
Other picks at No. 113? Iowa State tight end Bob Jensen (1951), Notre Dame back Ron Toth (1959), Boston University end Dave Viti (1962), Virginia Tech tight end Ken Barefoot (1968) and Arkansas linebacker Ravin Campbell (1986).
Sixth Round (189)
Everyone remembers that this is the round where Tom Brady was taken in 2000. Since then, there have been quality players found here — from offensive lineman Jason Kelce to wide receiver Antonio Brown.
And Brady’s not the only Super Bowl MVP taken in this round: Washington took Mark Rypien in the sixth round back in 1986.
Last Year: Philadelphia took USC defensive lineman Marlon Tupulutu who played in five games for the Eagles last fall. Five picks later San Francisco drafted Louisiana running back Elijah Mitchell who rushed for 963 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie.
Best: Dallas chose Purdue cornerback Anthony Brown in 2016, and Brown has made 57 starts over six seasons with the Cowboys.
Bust: New Orleans took Kamrin Moore in 2018, and the cornerback from Boston College was waived as a rookie before appearing in two games for the New York Giants. He’s been out of the league since. Baltimore picked Texas safety DeShon Elliot one spot later, and he started 16 games for the Ravens in 2020.
Burgundy & Gold: UNLV tight end Reggie Haynes was taken in 1977, and played in 14 games the following year in his only NFL season. He had better fortune than San Jose State back Bob Ward (1946), Florida back Joe Brodsky (1957), and Arizona State halfback Derek Estrada (1965), none of whom played a down in the league.
Seventh Round (230)
Not just one, but TWO picks. Double your fun!
I’m not saying there aren’t players here (just look at recent draftees Kamren Curl and Jimmy Moreland), but this is where kickers, punters and long-snappers often get tagged. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Last Year: Las Vegas picked Pitt offensive lineman Jimmy Morrissey, and he wound up playing five games for Houston. Ohio State defensive end Jonathon Cooper was still on the board and, after being taken 239th overall by Denver, notched 2.5 sacks for the Broncos.
Best: Super-slim pickings at this spot. Jacksonville took Wisconsin linebacker Leon Jacobs in 2018, and he started 12 games over three years before being waived last year.
Bust: New England chose Memphis center Dustin Woodward in 2020, and he never played a game for the Patriots. Still available: Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder who’s played 28 games for the New York Giants.
Burgundy & Gold: 2017 draftee Josh Harvey-Clemons (Louisville safety), who played 35 games over three years with Washington, was released in 2021 and was also cut by Miami last year.
Other picks: Mississippi State back Charlie Yancey (1943), Vanderbilt end Gary Hart (1965), UCLA long-snapper Jeff Grau (2002) and Arizona guard Kili Lefotu (2006). Grau was the only one in that pack to play a regular season down — and his games were with Dallas and Miami.
Seventh Round (240)
I’m not the kind to gamble on draft picks, but I’d take a flyer on the Commanders taking a defensive back in this round (five over the last five years).
Last Year: Washington took Baylor linebacker William Bradley-King, and he notched half a sack while playing in three games last fall.
Best: In 2018, San Francisco selected Middle Tennessee wide receiver Richie James, and he made 10 starts in three years before missing 2021 with a knee injury. James has since signed with the New York Giants.
Bust: Jacksonville took Miami fullback Marquez Williams in 2017, and he played in just one game that year before washing out of the NFL. Nine picks later Seattle chose Oklahoma State running back Chris Carson, who’s rushed for 3,502 career yards with the Seahawks.
Burgundy & Gold: In addition to Bradley-King, they’ve had the 240th pick twice before. Tulane guard Roman Bentz (1943) never played a down in the NFL, although he did appear in 34 games for two teams in the “All American Football Conference,” the upstart league that gave us the original Cleveland Browns and San Francisco Forty-niners. Alabama end Ed White also never suited up for Washington or the NFL.