Washington Commanders 2023 NFL Mock Draft: The Offensive Line is Bolstered Early

Washington Commanders 2023 NFL Mock Draft: The Offensive Line is Bolstered Early

The 2023 NFL Draft arrives in just over three weeks, and teams are finalizing their meetings with college prospects, including the Washington Commanders. The front office in Ashburn is likely putting the finishing touches on their draft board, and the focus will likely be the offensive line, cornerbacks and overall depth, especially at the hybrid linebacker/safety position.

Hi, I’m the new kid in town and you’ve probably seen me on social media or elsewhere. The offseason is my specialty and college prospects will be the main focus. Mock drafts are a given, including today. This particular mock will not feature a trade, but understandably the Commanders are always looking for more draft picks and additional depth.

The offensive line is expected to receive a lot of attention in the first three rounds of the draft, and Washington has multiple needs at tackle, guard and center. Free agent additions at guard and tackle have addressed some concerns, but more are needed and the draft offers more opportunities.

The cornerback is expected to be bolstered with another prospect, perhaps a higher first- or second-day pick. A linebacker/strong safety for depth purposes is certainly a focus as well.

1st Round Pick #16 Darnell Wright, Tennessee Offensive Tackle – 6’5”, 330 lbs

Darnell Wright has been consistently rising on draft boards for several months now, and the Commanders have held meetings with him (formally and informally) at least five times. He is a right tackle and can start right away. His presence would allow freshman offensive tackle Andrew Wylie to move to right guard and third-year player Sam Cosmi to move to left guard.

Via Wright’s profile:

A consensus five-star recruit, Darnell Wright turned in a very productive career at Tennessee. He became a rookie starter at right tackle in 2019 and started every game there in 2020 before moving to left tackle in 2021 and then finishing his career back at right tackle in 2022. His experience against the competition better, the ability to play on both teams, and growing each season is an obvious part of his rating.

Tape/Games to Watch:

Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Alabama

Second Round Pick #47 Steve Avila, TCU Offensive Guard/Center – 6’4”, 332 lbs

At the Senior Bowl, Steve Avila and the Commanders connected many times with various informal meetings and the adoration for each other was very much mutual. Avila is a versatile lineman, a trait the Commanders value in many of their players. Also, Avila could probably be drafted to play the center position. As a leader for the national runner-up Horned Frogs, Avila was never shy about committing defensive linemen or linebackers.

Via Avila’s draft profile:

As a run blocker, Avila has an aggressive temperament and immediately looks for defensive linemen to get involved. Once engaged, Avila does a good job of using his size to lean on defensive linemen and make it difficult for him to get away. Avila’s natural strength is evident in the way he is able to move defensive linemen off the ball and create running lanes for the ball carrier.

In pass protection, Avila is at his best when dealing with power rushers. When Avila faces a power rusher, he does a good job of anchoring and stopping defenders from penetrating the backfield and pressuring the quarterback. Avila’s strength combined with his size allows him to win most physical matchups that require strength.

Tape/Games to Watch:

Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State

Third Round Pick #97 (Compensatory) Tyrique Stevenson, Miami (FL) Cornerback – 6’0”, 198 lbs

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 03: Defensive back Tyrique Stevenson of Miami‐Fl participates in a practice during the NFL Combine during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 03, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Tyrique Stevenson is a very physical cornerback and he is expected to play on the perimeter in his first year or two in the league. Once he learns the nuances of the pro game, he will likely settle on the edge where his talents can be used extensively in press or zone schemes.

Via Stevenson’s profile:

Big corner back with the size and power play to help match up with bigger receivers in the league. Stevenson is patient but physical in the press and has good recovery speed when he gets stuck. He struggles as a matchup model on the outside and had trouble with zone busts, so he can be scheme dependent. Stevenson is talented attacking the catch and has the ball skills to play 50/50 shooting. He needs to become more consistent in run support, but has the physical attributes to become a starter in a press scheme.

Tape/Games to Watch:

Georgia Tech, Duke, Virginia

Fourth Round, Pick #118 Trey Palmer, Nebraska Wide Receiver – 6’0”, 192 lbs

Did you really think this draft would forget about new head coach and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy? The Commanders lost wide receiver Cam Sims in free agency, but here’s a wide receiver making plays for the new coach. Trey Palmer has a lot of upside and would be a good fit for the Burgundy and Gold. Oh, and he’s a solid punt/kick returner with 4.3 speed.

Via Palmer’s draft profile:

Few wide receivers this season have done more with their opportunity than Palmer. Palmer burst onto the scene with a very productive season, serving as the big-play catalyst for the Cornhuskers offense. He has good initial quickness and effective vertical speed in the passing game, providing smooth acceleration to consistently reach his top speed. He’s not the biggest or the strongest and he’s not the most explosive, but he’s a plus athlete to play on any line for Nebraska. His ball-tracking skills are among his best attributes and he routinely wins deep in the middle of the pitch on these occasions. He makes good adjustments in football. Playing him out of coverage is asking for trouble, as he places his breaks well and is effective at getting exposed when teams try to tackle him safely in these deep parts of the field.

Tape/Games to Watch:

Purdue, Iowa, Indiana

Fifth Round, Pick #150 Marte Mapu, Sacramento State Linebacker/Strong Safety – 6’3”, 210 lbs

How about a backup in Kamren Curl and a depth option at linebacker? Marte Mapu easily fills this need.

Via Mapu’s draft profile:

Tall, ferocious and physical are all key adjectives to describe Maput’s game. Serving a variety of roles for the Sacramento State Hornets, Mapu’s physical attributes were used to their full extent, lining up primarily as a nickel safety, but also appearing consistently as a linebacker, power player and even as a single high security. His athleticism comes through quickly on film, combining elite closing speed with innate lower-body fluidity that allows him to be extremely effective in both the passing and running game.

Tape/Games to Watch:

Northern Iowa, Colorado State, Montana

Sixth Round, Pick #192 Eric Gray, Oklahoma Running Back – 5’9”, 206 lbs

Commanders have met with Eric Gray on numerous occasions. Here’s another chess piece for coach Bieniemy.

Via Gray’s draft profile:

Decisive, creative runner with the size and skill set for three-down consideration at the pro level. Gray won’t be a home run hitter in the open field, but his short zone explodes and fat hips open up access all over the field, with cuts that come suddenly and at unpredictable angles. It is a less powerful processor than its size might suggest and should avoid unnecessary spills. He is a reliable threat out of the backfield with soft hands and a willingness to block. Gray has the potential to find work quickly as a three-down backup with future starting potential.

Tape/Games to Watch:

Kansas, West Virginia, Nebraska

Sixth Round, Pick #215 (Compensatory) Tyson Bagent, Shepherd Quarterback – 6’3”, 213 lbs

The Chiefs will most likely draft a developmental quarterback.

Via Bagent’s draft profile:

Shepherd quarterback Tyson Bagent projects as a developmental quarterback at the pro level. He has been extremely productive for the Rams program during his collegiate career, posting monster numbers and giving opposing defenses his ability to get out of the pocket and attack all levels of the field. Bagent will be a project for an NFL franchise, but he should be entertaining with his natural ability as a passer.

Tape/Games to Watch:

None available, but here is a video for you to watch and enjoy.

Seventh Round Pick #233 Aubrey Miller Jr., Jackson State Linebacker – 6’2”, 225 lbs

Drafting a special team is always a good option in the late rounds. Aubrey Miller Jr. can also provide excellent depth at a position of need.

Via Miller’s draft profile:

Miller brings a lot to the table as a prospect. A fluid and calm athlete who plays behind his pads, Miller has no problem punishing opposing ball carriers when he has the opportunity. In the box, he is able to make dynamic tackles and is always working to find an angle to get involved in stopping the run. He plays low and downhill as a rusher and presents a lot of problems for offenses as a side-to-side runner.

Despite being used a lot in pressures, I felt Miller was useful as a cover linebacker, primarily in the downfield area of ​​the strike zone, but also has the speed to get back up on wheels and late routes.

Tape/Games to Watch:

Campbell, Grambling, Southern University

I look forward to giving everyone more information on draft prospects in the coming weeks. See you as we continue.

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