The question now comes down to what is the biggest need Washington has left to address.
Sure, adding quarterback would be nice, but after agreeing to take on Carson Wentz’s contract, it’s hard to imagine Washington adding another with one of its early selections. And looking at the bigger picture, there’s more pressing concerns the Commanders must address first.
In total, Washington has six picks to address every major need. Here’s Washington SI’s top five needs general manager Martin Mayhew and Rivera should consider filling starting on April 28.
Montana State’s Troy Andersen
USC’s Drake London
LSU Derek Stingley
Even with the hopeful growth of second-year cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, Washington needs competition. It was without question the weakest part of the defense last season and injuries didn’t help.
William Jackson III struggled mightily as the No. 1 corner in D.C. last fall, but his guaranteed money will keep him on the roster for another season. Kendall Fuller is best suited in the nickel and St-Juste still has some work to do. After allowing a league-high 34 touchdowns in coverage last year, Rivera needs to address these issues.
If the Commanders land a corner Day 1, it’s likely LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. On Day 2, Washington has more flexibility with prospects such as UTSA’s Tariq Woolen, Washington’s Kyler Gordon and Mississippi State’s Martin Emerson.
2. Middle Linebacker
Second-year linebacker Jamin Davis is moving outside to his natural position. Rivera said that once the team elected to move him out of the middle, there was a clear improvement in his overall game.
Cole Holcomb isn’t a natural inside linebacker and it’s likely he’ll see reps just because defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio loves his style of play. That doesn’t mean it’ll translate without problems. Adding a well-rounded option than can win against the run and play in coverage could be an early need to address.
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Should the Commanders target a linebacker Day 1, Utah’s Devin Lloyd fits the criteria. On Day 2, Alabama’s Christian Harris, Montana State’s Troy Andersen and Wyoming’s Chad Muma check the boxes in the “well-rounded” approach.
3. Outside Receiver
Curtis Samuel will control the slot for another season. Unless the Commanders come to terms with Terry McLaurin before the start of the season, the franchise risks losing him next offseason in free agency.
Even if Washington agrees to pay McLaurin a massive contract, it needs a complementary receiver on the other side. In the past two years, the Commanders No. 2 receiver hasn’t tallied more than 477 yards and 41 catches in a year.
USC’s Drake London could be nice addition to the offense thanks his 6-5 frame. Other players that could be options include North Dakota State’s Christian Watson, Alabama’s John Metchie III and South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert.
Kentucky’s Darrian Kinard
Memphis Dylan Parham
Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton
4. Interior Offensive Line
Sam Cosmi holds the key here. The Commanders initially drafted him to play offensive tackle opposite Charles Leno Jr. He was fine on the right side, but some scouts believed he’d find better production inside long-term.
If Cosmi stays at right tackle, Washington should look to upgrade at guard. Adding Andrew Norwell fills the void created the departure of Brandon Scherff, but bringing in depth isn’t the worst idea.
Likely as a later-round pick, keep a close eye on players who could play multiple roles. Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard and Luke Fortner both played multiple positions on the Wildcats’ offensive line. Memphis’ Dylan Parham has taken reps at both guard positions, right tackle, and even worked center drills at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Kam Curl should have better success at strong safety for the foreseeable future. Bobby McCain split reps at free safety and at the nickel position. Adding competition would help simply to push both players.
Unless Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton is on the board at No. 11, the Commanders aren’t addressing the position until at least the second-round. Based off the needs, Washington should be looking at prospects such as Baylor’s J.T. Woods, Cincinnati’s Bryan Cook and Florida A&M’s Markquese Bell in Round 4.