Each year, just before the actual draft, enterprising individuals from various SBNation blogs take it upon themselves to organize a site-wide full mock draft, with (ideally) writers / posters from each of the team blogs picking on behalf of their team. This year, I will be picking on behalf of the Washington Commanders and tracking progress here. The draft will take place on Discord.
Think of this draft as a series of thought exercises, not simply a rote duplication of what we can expect come late April in Las Vegas. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste.
4/8 – 8 PM EDT / 5 PM PDT (Round 1) 4/9 – 1pm EDT / 10 AM PDT (Rounds 2-3)
4/10 – 1pm EDT / 10 AM PDT (Rounds 4-7)
This page should be updated in fairly close to real time once the Day 3 begins on 4/10.
Pre-Draft Trade: Washington sends WR Terry McLaurin to the 49ers for picks 25, 83, and LB Dre Greenlaw. Rational: I love Terry McLaurin. We all do, but the wide receiver market is heavily overbought at this point, and paying Terry (or any WR) $ 23-24M per year would begin to constrain team building in important ways beginning in 2023. Selling high on Terry now, before the draft puts the team in a good position to re-stock.
First Round Trade: Washington sends CB Kendall Fuller to the Seahawks for pick # 40, freeing up $ 8M in cap space in 2022 and $ 8.5M in 2023. As legendary baseball GM, Branch Rickey said, “Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late. ”
Round 1, Pick 11
Garrett Wilson (WR) – Ohio State – With Terry McLaurin traded away, wide receiver became an existential need. Surely some will object that this is a violation of the First Draft Commandment, and in the strictest sense, they would be correct. However, as the First Commandment pertains to wide receivers, the injunction not to draft them in the first derives not from the fact that first round WRs aren’t good, it’s rooted in the fact that very good ones can be found in the second round as well. The McLaurin trade necessitated, and allowed, this move. Wilson would not have been the choice without the McLaurin trade, my second pick, Matt Corral, would have.
Interestingly, mock drafters took 8 WRs in the first round, a clear indication to me that the out of control veteran WR market is driving up the draft value of WRs on rookie deals. The selection of Wilson here essentially represents a conversion of massive salary cap capital into a significant draft investment. We’ll see if it pays off.
Round 1, Pick 25 (from San Francisco)
Matt Corral (QB) – Ole Miss – I have been, and remain, insistent, that Washington must leave this draft with a Plan B option at QB. Corral is the best of the bunch, but even so, taking him at # 11 would have felt like a bit of a reach. Nevertheless, I was prepared to do it. The McLaurin trade opened up a world of options, allowing # 11 to be used on a true BPA, and allowing # 25 to be used on a quarterback who is athletically talented, but could absolutely use a year of seasoning behind a veteran. Two draft priorities down, Day 2 leaves open a tremendous set of options.
Round 2, Pick 40 (from Seattle)
Kyler Gordon (CB) – Washington – It was no secret that the Kendall Fuller trade opened up a spot in the secondary. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to reach to fill it. Thankfully, Kyler Gordon, who played opposite first round pick, Trent McDuffie, was there waiting for me. The Draft Network evaluation is below, with a comp to former top 10 pick, CJ Henderson, of the Jaguars:
Kyler Gordon is an exceptional athlete with explosive and dynamic movement. In the run game, he comes up hard when he is the force player in zone. He is an eager participant in the run game and does a good job as a tackler on the perimeter and in space as a core special teamer. In the passing game, he is exceptional. His outstanding agility and quickness in coverage help him stay in phase. From press alignment, he often uses bail technique and closes quickly when he can play with vision. From off man, he can get a little “nosey” with his eyes but obviously trusts his athleticism in these instances. In the NFL, he has the athleticism and hips to be a starting outside corner. However, his tackling ability, instincts, and agility also project him favorably to playing inside, giving him true inside / outside flexibility.
Round 2, Pick 47
Jalen Pitre (S) – Baylor – I profiled Pitre earlier this year here, and my excitement for him has only grown since that point. Pitre is a brainy, versatile athlete who has spearheaded Dave Aranda’s ferocious defense at Baylor.
Pitre is the sort of weapon that a creative defensive coordinator can – and has – use (d) to anchor his top end defense. Does Jack Del Rio’s defense fit that bill? It’s not entirely clear that it does, but we know that this coaching staff does value defensive positional flexibility. Pitre’s ability to play in the slot, at nickel, or either of the safety positions seem to be well suited to the direction of the modern NFL.
Round 3, Pick 83 (from San Francisco)
Cade Otton (TE) – Washington – Otton’s production numbers in college weren’t spectacular – he was injured during much of 2021, and his offense at Washington was terrible – but he possesses the tight end fundamentals, including accomplished blocking, to be able to make an easy transition to the pros. The Draft Network comps him to a “Pat Freiermuth & Zack Ertz combo. ” From Lance Zierlein’s review on NFL.com:
“I think he is the best I’ve seen so far (in 2021) at just getting himself open with his routes. That is a really big deal for me when I watch tight ends. ” – Scouting director for NFC team
Round 4, Pick 113
Phidarian Mathis (DT) – Alabama – At this point in the draft, my draft approach shifts almost entirely to a pure Best Player Available (BPA) approach, and when that happens to line up with a position of need – like it did here – it’s the best of all possible worlds .
After losing Tim Settle and Matt Ioannidis to free agency, Washington absolutely needs depth along the defensive line. Mathis was named a permanent defensive captain for Alabama in 2021 and proceeded to rack up 9 sacks and 12 TFLs. An excerpt from his scouting assessment from Bleacher Report is below:
Phidarian Mathis is the high-floor defensive lineman to target in this class. A four-year contributor at Alabama, Mathis has a thick build with surprisingly nimble feet, which allowed him to play anywhere from 0-technique to 5-technique in the Tide’s scheme.
Mathis’ game is defined by his awareness and ability to read plays instantly, as well as how to handle different blocking schemes. He can sit and anchor against double-teams just as well as he can move with the flow of the play in zone and play with his eyes in the backfield. His eyes, length and violence in shedding blocks also allow him to cross-face and play a secondary gap.
Being a fifth-year senior and only sporting average explosiveness, Mathis probably is what he is at this point. Room for growth is limited. However, in his current state, he will be a good NFL run defender with enough tools to be an effective complementary pass-rusher. Combine that with his ability to be effective all over the interior defensive line, and it’s easy to see how he should be a quality starter right away.
Real life intervened at this point in the draft and it became clear I was not going to be able to be available for the 6th and 7th rounds. As a result, I did something I would not have otherwise done and packaged my 6th and 7th round picks for a 5th rounder, so I could actually make the pick.
Round 5, Pick 161 (From Detroit)
Luke Fortner (OL) – Kentucky Prior to the 2021 season, Fortner played right guard for the Wildcats. During his senior season, he shifted to center and was a First Team All SEC selection. Fortner brings the offensive line versatility that both Ron Rivera and John Matsko love to an already stacked offensive front:
Overall, Fortner’s swift adjustment from guard to center in fall camp and ability to process the mental side of the position bolstered his play speed at the pivot to an above-average level. Paired with starter-level quickness and use of leverage to connect and stay attached to blocks at the first and second levels, he looks like a potential starter in a zone-based run scheme. He also has the experience in his back pocket at both guard spots to stick as a backup and provide added value to an O-line room.
Round 6, Pick 189 (Traded)
Round 7, Pick 230 (Traded)
Round 7, Pick 239 (Traded)
If it’s less traumatizing to imagine this draft without the McLaurin and Fuller trades, this would be the outcome:
- Garrett Wilson (WR)
- Jalen Pitre (S)
- Phidarian Mathis (DL)
- Luke Fortner (IOL)
I look forward to your thoughts in the comments below:
How would you grade Day 2?
- Cowboys – Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU
- Jaguars – Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss
- Giants – Rachaad White, RB, Arizona State
- Vikings – Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
- Ravens – Justyn Ross, WR, CLEMSON
- Cardinals – Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
- Texans – LOGAN BRUSS, G, WISCONSIN
- Commanders – Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama
- Falcons – JOJO DOMANN, LB, NEBRASKA
- Jets – BRYAN COOK, S, CINCINNATI
- Cardinals – Daniel Bellinger, TE, San Diego State
- Rams – COBY BRYANT, CB, CINCINNATI
- Browns – DERION KENDRICK CB Georgia
- Eagles – ISAIAH LIKELY, TE, COASTAL CAROLINA
- Jaguars – Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor.
- Chiefs – SMOKE MONDAY, S, AUBURN
- Buccaneers – ALONTAE TAYLOR, CB, TENNESSEE
- Chargers – JEROME FORD, RB, CINCINNATI
- Jaguars – Amare Barno, EDGE VA Tech.
- Dolphins –
- Raiders – Thomas Booker, IDL, Stanford
- Patriots -DARRIAN BEAVERS, LB, CINCINNATI
- Ravens – Dameon Pierce, HB, FLORIDA
- Cardinals – Pierre Strong Jr, RB, South Dakota State
- Falcons – MATT WALETZKO, OT, NORTH DAKOTA
- Cardinals – Damarri Mathis, CB, Pittsburgh
- Packers – Ed Ingram, OG, LSU
- Buccaneers – JEREMY RUCKERT, TE, OHIO STATE
- Panthers – DAMONE CLARK, LB, LSU
- Chiefs – VELUS JONES JR, WR, TENNESSEE
- Bengals – GREG DULCICH, TE, UCLA
- Cardinals – Samori Toure, WR, Nebraska
- Steelers – DOMINIQUE ROBINSON, EDGE, MIAMI OHIO
- Ravens – Deangelo Malone, ED, W KENTUCKY
- Packers – Jake Ferguson, TE, Wisconsin
- Ravens – Neil Farrell Jr., DI, LSU
- Jets – REGGIE ROBERSON, WR, SMU
- Titans – CARSON STRONG, QB, NEVADA
- Panthers – ZACH TOM, OL, WAKE FOREST
- Broncos – Jeffrey Gunter, Edge, Coastal Carolina
- Jets – D’Marco Jackson, LB, APPALACHIAN STATE
- Giants – CHARLIE KOLAR, TE, IOWA STATE
- Bears – Alec Lindstrom, C, Boston College
- Eagles – LEON O’NEAL, S, TEXAS A&M
- 49ers – VERONE MCKINLEY III, SAFETY, OREGON
- Chiefs – MATT ARAIZA, P, SAN DIEGO STATE
- Seahawks – RASHEED WALKER, OT PENN STATE
- Vikings – Tycen Anderson S Toledo
- Ravens – Jalen Wydermyer, TE, TEXAS A&M
- Cowboys –
- Saints – MYKAEL WRIGHT CB OREGON
- Raiders – MARQUESE BELL, SAF, FLORIDA A&M
- Dolphins –
- Buccaneers –
- Chargers –