Grading the Washington Commanders 2022 Draft

by JP Lyons, Editor

The 2022 NFL draft has officially ended, and the Commanders have added eight new rookies to their 2022-2023 roster. The Commanders finished 3rd in the NFC East with a mediocre record of 7-10 in 2021. The Commanders come into 2022 with a shiny new quarterback after trading for veteran Carson Wentz. This year’s draft was filled with surprises as Washington focused on drafting high-character experienced guys that hopefully will be able to make immediate impacts. 

With these additions along with having the second easiest schedule in the NFL I predict that Washington will improve to a 10-7 record in 2022. While this would be a success the Commanders are still a couple years away from becoming a true SuperBowl contender however, things are finally looking up for the troubled franchise.

Round 1, Pick 16: Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver, Penn State

The Commanders received this pick after trading back in the draft with New Orleans Saints. The Commanders traded pick 11 for pick 16, a third-rounder, and a fourth-rounder. Jahan Dotson stands at 5’11 and weighs roughly 183 pounds. Dotson is known for having the “best hands in the draft” and strived at making tough contested catches in college. During his time at Penn State, he accumulated 1182 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior 

1st round pick Jahan Dotson tries on Commanders gear(Washington Commanders Website).

season, which were respectively 2nd and 3rd in the entire Big 10. The Commanders are in dire need of a WR that can compliment star WR Terry Mclaurin after Curtis Samuel failed to fill in that role last season due to nagging injuries. If Samuel can manage to stay healthy the speedy WR corps of Mclaurin, Samuel, Dotson, and 2nd-year receiver Dyami Brown should be able to keep opposing defenses on their toes. However, Dotson’s small stature could be a concern as he might be too small to keep up with the physicality of the NFL. Washington also passed on generational talent, Kyle Hamilton, and my WR1 of the class, Jameson Williams for Dotson. Overall I like the fact that we gained additional assets and I love Dotson’s talent and maturity but was Dotson the best available?

Grade: B+

Round 2, pick 47: Phidarion Mathis, Defensive Tackle, Alabama

The Washington Crimson tide, sorry the Washington Commanders take yet another Alabama defensive tackle to join Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Mathis is a big body on the interior standing at 6’4, 312 pounds who was primarily known for stuffing the run in college. However, that’s not all Mathis can do as in his senior season he posted a career-high 9.5 sacks for the Crimson Tide. The Commanders are known for having one of the best D-lines however, they are lacking depth after releasing Matt Ioannidis and letting Tim Settle. Mathis will be expected to fill this void immediately after being a four-year player at one of the nation’s best defenses. I believe Mathis will be a very solid rotational piece for this defense however this pick seems like a step backward. In the second round, I would have much rather taken a future starter at a position of need such as linebacker or safety, than a depth piece. Washington has also invested so much into the d-line over the last couple of years that it makes me question why we’re still addressing the “best d-line in the NFL.” 

Grade: C+

Round 3, pick 98: Brian Robinson, Running Back, Alabama

With back-to-back picks the Commanders select back-to-back Alabama alums. Brian Robinson comes in at 6’2 235 and will project as the “bruiser” running back for Washington. Robinson, another four-year player spent the majority of his college campaign behind NFLers Najee Harris, Damien Harris, and Josh Jacobs. However, when given his time to shine Robinson certainly delivered last season as he racked up 1343 rushing yards, 16 total touchdowns, and took home an All-SEC first-team selection. Robinson breaks tackles and will run through you at the line of scrimmage which is exactly what Washingtons running back room needs. Antonio Gibson and JD Mckissic are elusive backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield yet, lack the physicality that Robinson possesses. Robinson should be able to grind yards on 3rd and shorts something Washington desperately needed. However, a cheap ground and pound running back could easily be attained in free agency instead of spending a day 2 pick on one. Robinson’s ball security is also interesting as he never fumbled once through four years while starting running back Antonio Gibson led the league in fumbles by running backs. Maybe the organization doesn’t have as much trust in Gibson as the media thinks. Overall similar to Mathis, Robinson is a good depth pick but could also be considered a slight reach for a team with bigger needs.

Grade: B-

Round 4, pick 113: Percy Butler, Safety, Louisiana 

In the fourth round, the Commanders select human highlight real and speed demon Percy Butler. Washington needed safety and that’s exactly what they got with their 4th-round pick. Butler ran a 4.36 40 at the combine and was praised as the best pure safety in the entire draft. PFF graded him with at least a 77 overall grade since 2019 and is great in the passing game Similar to all of the previous Commander picks Butler has experience as he too was a four-player at Louisiana. This experience should allow him to contribute immediately if not at safety then definitely in special teams. Butler was exceptional as a gunner in college and looked forward to contributing to special teams in the NFL. While Butler may be a project at safety as he works on his downfield tackling, his ability to immediately produce on special teams excites me. Overall Butler is a very interesting prospect and I believe he has the ability to eventually produce at safety for years to come.

Grade: B+

Round 5, pick 144: Sam Howell, Quarterback, North Carolina

Howell Leads the offense in first day of rookie mini camp(Washington Commanders Website).

If you told me one year ago that potential number one overall pick Sam Howell fell to the fifth round I would’ve called you insane. After finishing his sophomore season with 3586 passing yards and 30 touchdowns many thought he would solidify himself as the best Quarterback in his junior season. This was not the case however as UNC lost four of its top contributors to the NFL. Howell didn’t struggle in his junior season yet he didnt look the same as he led his team to a 6-7 record and dropped on draft boards. Surprisingly tho, with an abysmal O-line Howell really got to showcase his running ability in his Junior season. Howell ran for 8x the amount of rushing yards he had in his previous two seasons and added on eleven touchdowns.  Despite falling people still considered Howell a 2nd-3rd round pick so grabbing him in the 5th is an absolute steal and to some its considered the steal of the draft. The talent is obviously there with Howell as he has a beautiful deep ball, a gamer personality, and is a very physical scrambler outside of the pocket. Howell will obviously not come into training camp with a chance at the starting job but will instead be a project who will sit and grow behind veteran Carson Wentz. I love this pick for Washington as it is a low-risk high reward if he never starts a game in the NFL; fine, however, if he becomes the franchise guy in Washington the front office will all look like geniuses.

Grade: A 

Round 5, pick 149: Cole Turner, Tight End, Nevada

With their 5th rounded pick, Washington opted to take an absolute monster of a man in Cole Turner. Turner stands at a whopping 6’6 240lbs and is a big target in the red zone. This was evident by his 10 touchdown catches in 2021. Due to his height and basketball background, he is also a jump-ball threat. With starting TE Logan Thomas coming back from an ACL tear Turner could have a role for himself early on for the team.  Turner isn’t a polished blocker and will need to hit the weight room but, this shouldn’t be a problem as second-year TE, John Bates is primarily used as a blocker. Turner will also likely not provide anything on special teams as he likely lacks the speed and strength needed. Nevertheless, Turner is another high upside project that could produce early on in his rookie campaign.  

Grade: B+

Round 7, pick 230: Chris Paul, Offensive Guard, Tulsa

With the first of 2 seventh-round picks the Commanders selected Chris Paul the offensive guard, not the NBA superstar. In his last two seasons at Tulsa Paul played tackle however his body size projects him as a guard at the next level. Paul is known as a great character guy and was even on the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee for the American Conference. Paul’s high energy/character and the fact that Washington is home to John Matsko, one of the best O line coaches in the NFL make me believe that Paul could be a solid backup in the league.

Grade: B

Round 7, pick 240: Christan Holmes, Cornerback, Oklahoma St

Washington concluded their 2022 NFL draft by adding depth at the corner position after selecting Christan Holmes. Holmes similar to almost every pick the Commanders selected has plenty of experience and will be 25 when his rookie campaign begins. Holmes doesn’t have a surefire spot on the roster but if he does he can make an immediate impact in special teams. Holmes’s size and physical play could also contribute to him making the roster.

Grade: C+