Washington Commanders 2023 draft by the numbers

The Washington Commanders have eight selections in the 2023 NFL draft, which is the same amount they ended with last spring (trades added a pair of picks).

While last year’s class has already produced on the field (it’s easier to do so with skill-position players like wide receiver Jahan Dotson and running back Brian Robinson), the full effect of the 2022 draft won’t be felt for another two to three years. And just like last year’s draft yielded three players in the first 100 picks, Washington will have that opportunity again this week.

What sort of players are available at these picks (16, 47, 97, 118, 150, 193, 215 and 233)? Washington did pick 16th and 47th last April and has owned each of the other selections in their past (for the record, they’ve never chosen 14th, 42nd, 57th, 63rd or 77th) at least one of which made the team’s Ring of Honor at FedEx Field. We also look at the best and bust picks in those spots since 2015.

First Round (16)

The major “needs” may be cornerback, tight end and offensive line, but at this stage you’re often taking the “best player available.” Along with “air quotes.” And just like the team moved down from 11 to 16 last year, don’t rule out the Commanders dropping a few spots to get extra selections.

Last Year: Washington selected Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson who made 35 catches for 523 yards and seven touchdowns. He did miss five games with injury but this felt like a great fit from the start.

Best: Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was taken by Buffalo in 2018, and he’s turned into a five-year starter for the Bills while being named to a pair of Pro Bowls.

Bust: Houston chose Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson in 2015, and the former Demon Deacon never became a regular starter, playing in 64 games over his six year career. Kansas City took future All Pro corner Marcus Peters two picks later.

Burgundy & Gold: Washington selected four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Kerrigan at this spot in 2011, and the Purdue product played 141 of his 156 games with the Burgundy and Gold before finishing his career with Philadelphia. Others taken saw their best NFL days outside of Washington. Maryland defensive tackle Dick Modzelowski (1953) would win titles with the Giants in 1956 and Browns in 1964, William & Mary linebacker Tommy Thompson (1948) played with Cleveland, and Santa Clara fullback/center Nello “Flash” Falaschi (1937) made three Pro Bowls in four years with the New York Giants while playing for their 1938 title team. Falaschi would found a Bay Area construction company after his retirement. George Washington (yes, GW once played football) halfback Mike Sommer (1958) never played a down in the league.

Second Round (47)

It’s déjà vu all over again! Washington had this very pick last year (more on that in a moment). Washington has picked well in this round this century, getting players like 1,000-yard rusher Ladell Betts plus starters Fred Smoot and Trent Murphy.

Last Year: Alabama defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis looked sharp during training camp but saw his season end due to injury, playing in just one game. We’ll see what he does this season.

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 the equivalent of two years with injury.

Bust: Utah safety Marquise Blair was chosen by Seattle in 2019 and he has played in just a pair of games over the last three years. Three Pro Bowl players (Tennessee wide receiver AJ Brown, Philadelphia running back Miles Sanders, and Kansas City kick returner Mecole Hardman) were taken later in the round.

Burgundy & Gold: In 2013 Washington picked Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy who started 22 games over three years before signing with Buffalo. Other picks at this spot: Cal offensive tackle Larry Lutz (1936-never played in the league) and Arizona State defensive end Shane Collins (1992-ten starts over three years).

Third Round (97)

Washington originally did not have a third-round selection last year but picked one up when they traded down from 11 to 16 in the first round. Top 100 prospects are the lifeblood of a franchise. While you might find production later on in the draft, you’re toast if you don’t get contributors from the first three rounds.

Last Year: Detroit picked Illinois defensive back Kerby Joseph who would record four interceptions plus a fumble recovery. Ten selections later, Houston chose running back Dameon Pierce who rushed for over 900 yards.

Best: Michigan center Mason Cole was taken by Arizona in 2018, and became a two-year starter for the Cardinals before making seven starts for Minnesota in 2021 and 17 starts for Pittsburgh last year.

Bust: Miami made Clemson cornerback Cordrea Tankersley their choice in 2017, and he played just 19 games over four seasons. Philadelphia chose West Virginia corner Rasul Douglas two spots later and the Mountaineer blossomed into a two-year starter (18 starts in 46 games played with the team) who’s still in the league.

Burgundy & Gold: Three previous players who include Alabama A&M offensive tackle Joe Patton (1994) remember this round. The lineman became a three-year starter before retiring after the 1998 season. Patton passed away last September. Other picks are two players who never saw a regular season down in the NFL: Stanford defensive end Duncan McColl (1977) and Pacific end John Rohde (1950).

Fourth Round (118)

We’re now into hit-or-miss territory as for every Stephen Davis (1996) who makes the Pro Bowl for Washington there’s a Bryce Love (2019) who never plays a regular season down in the league. And let’s not forget 2012 when the team chose Kirk Cousins in this round. You like that?

Last Year: Missouri defensive back Akayleb Evans was picked by Minnesota and the Tiger made a pair of starts and recorded a forced fumble for the Vikings. Evans was one of 10 defensive backs taken in the 2022 fourth round (Washington picked Louisiana safety Percy Butler).

Best: Baltimore took Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett 2018, and before he left for Las Vegas last season Averett started 21 games in his last three seasons with the Ravens while recording three interceptions in 2021.

Bust: Arkansas guard Hjalte Froholdt was selected by New England in 2019. He played just eight games for the Patriots and was waived after two seasons. Baltimore took Oklahoma guard Ben Powers five picks later and he’s developed into a three-year starter for the Ravens.

Burgundy & Gold: Five players over the years have been selected with the 118th pick, including a player on the Ring of Honor at FedEx Field. In 1965 the team took Arizona State tight end Jerry Smith in the ninth round and the former Sun Devil would pay dividends as a ten-year starter who made the Pro Bowl twice and was voted All-Pro once, notching 421 career catches for 5,496 yards and 60 touchdowns before retiring after the 1977 season. Other selections at this spot: Arizona tackle Harry Varner (1949) never played in the league; Indiana running back Chick Jagade (1948) never played a down for Washington but was a Pro Bowl selection for Cleveland in 1953 and Chicago in 1954; Tennessee fullback Sam Bartholomew (1940) played nine games over two years with the team; and Washington guard Steve Slivinski (1939) was a three-year starter with one Pro Bowl selection in his short career (last played in 1943).

Fifth Round (150)

Washington found quality in this round as of late with eventual starters Matt Ioannidis, Jeremy Sprinkle and Cole Holcomb getting selected after the 150th selection in 2016, 2017 and 2019. But it’s probably as much of a reflection on the player as it is on the team that was understocked at their respective positions.

Last Year: Houston took Stanford defensive end Thomas Booker, and the former Cardinal notched half a sack and 11 tackles over 10 games. Three picks later Seattle chose Texas-San Antonio cornerback Tariq Woolen, who made the Pro Bowl for the Seahawks.

Best: Indiana running back Jordan Howard was picked by Chicago in 2016 and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He posted a pair of 1,000 yard seasons before being traded to Philadelphia.

Bust: The New York Jets selected Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett in 2017. This Jordan did not rule and he was out of the league with 14 career catches after the 2018 season. One pick later, the Los Angeles Chargers took Iowa safety Desmond King who developed into a four-year starter with a 2018 All Pro selection.

Burgundy & Gold: Four players over the years with this pick, and the best being USC halfback Eddie Saenz in 1945. The ex-Trojan was a two-year starter, posting 619 rushing and 1,327 receiving yards in his six year career. Other picks: Oregon State fullback Ken Dow (1941) played two games in his only season while Oregon State back Joe Day didn’t play in the league. The one that got away remains Hardin-Simmons quarterback Ken “Model T” Ford (1958) who passed up on a pro career and lived off his nickname for the rest of his days.

Sixth Round (193)

The recently retired Tom Brady (at least he’s yet to announce his comeback in San Francisco at this time) was picked in this round back in 2000. But he’s not the only legendary quarterback to be chosen in the sixth round: I’m not as much referring to Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien but 1983 selection and Washington Preseason Icon Babe Laufenberg.

Last Year: Dallas took Oklahoma State linebacker Devin Harper and he appeared in three games for a defense that ranked 12th in the NFL. The players picked before (Youngstown State tight end Andrew Ogletree by Indianapolis) and after (Air Force defensive tackle Jordan Jackson by New Orleans) Harper didn’t play a regular season down in 2022.

Best: Elon (GO CAA!) offensive tackle Oli Udoh was picked by Minnesota in 2019 and has played in 41 games for the Vikings, notching 17 starts.

Bust: Tennessee chose Arkansas guard Sebastian Tretota in 2016 and he played just one game with the team in his only season in the league. Two picks later Atlanta selected San Jose State tackle Wes Schweitzer and he made 36 starts in three years for the Falcons before making 24 starts the last three seasons for Washington.

Burgundy & Gold: Six players over the years is fitting with the leader in the clubhouse being Idaho State tight end Mike Hancock in 1973. He only played two years in the league and made just a pair of catches in 1973 — but both were for touchdowns. Other picks: Georgia center Clyde Ehrhardt (1944) made eight starts over three seasons from 1946-49, while Villanova guard Matt Kuber (1939), Missouri offensive tackle Mel Weztel (1940), Auburn center Jim Bradshaw (1945) and San Diego State defensive back Harold Hicks (1988) never played a regular season down in the league.

Sixth Round (215)

And not just one but TWO picks. Double your fun!

Last Year: Virginia Tech offensive lineman Lecitus Smith was taken by Arizona and would go on to make two starts in 10 games played for the Cardinals.

Best: Baltimore took Alabama center Bradley Bozeman in 2018 and he made 49 starts over four seasons before signing with Carolina in 2022.

Bust: Missouri defensive tackle Terry Beckner was selected by Tampa Bay in 2019 and he never played a down in the league while Kansas City chose Nick Allegretti with the next pick and the Illinois guard has played 57 games with 12 starts for the two-time Super Bowl champs.

Burgundy & Gold: Three players, none of whom played a regular season game for Washington. Although Florida defensive back Jimmy Spencer (1991) saw action for four NFL teams during a career that spanned 1992-2003. Northwestern offensive tackle Bill Ivy (1944) and Oregon linebacker Jeremy Asher (1996) never played a regular season down in the NFL.

Seventh Round (233)

The equivalent of scratch tickets. You might find a starter (defensive back Kam Curl) this late but you also might make a pair of picks that don’t see the field for a regular season game (running back Keith Marshall and linebacker Steven Daniels in 2016).

Last Year: Seattle took Lenoir-Rhyne wide receiver Dareke Young and he played 13 games for the Seahawks, notching two receptions for 24 yards. Still available? Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy who went 5-0 as a starter for San Francisco, throwing for 1,374 starts while posting a passer rating of 107.3.

Best: In 2018 Philadelphia selected Jordan Mailata out of New South Wales, Australia. The offensive tackle became a three-year starter for the Eagles, going from Down Under to playing a down (as a starter) in Super Bowl LVII.

Bust: This is how you hedge your bets. Auburn running back Chandler Cox was chosen by Miami in 2019 and he’d play in 21 games over the next two seasons, catching a pair of passes but never running the ball. One pick later the Dolphins took Washington running back Myles Gaskin who has rushed for 1,355 yards while catching 101 passes over the last four seasons.

Burgundy & Gold: Six players, including a future college football head coach in this one. Ole Miss defensive back Billy Brewer (1959) would go on to man the sidelines at his alma mater, as well as Louisiana Tech and Southeastern Louisiana, posting a record of 125-94-6 that included an 8-3 record in the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State. Brewer played 11 games for Washington in 1960. Two others chosen at this spot would play in the league: Colorado State tight end Jimmy Kennedy (1974) would play 37 games for Baltimore (Colts were coached by ex-Washington assistant Ted Marchibroda) from 1975-77 while Notre Dame wide receiver Kris Haines would play 20 of his 21 career games outside of D.C. Wake Forest guard Bill Link (1953), Kansas linebacker Eddie Sheats (1973), and Kentucky tight end Charles Darrington (1989) didn’t play a regular season down in the league.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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