Washington Commanders Draft Targets Pt. 1

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The Commanders finally *appear* to have a plan in place moving forward, and I for one, could not be more excited about the potential of the franchise moving forward. Obviously, reports of Dan Snyder selling the entire franchise, or at least a “majority stake,” as some outlets phrased it, have been coming out over the last few weeks. We won’t focus on all that; just be patient, and let Dan take his check and disappear. Instead, I want to talk about the on-field product, and which players in the 2023 NFL Draft this April can step in to fill gaps on the roster.

On defense, the Commanders built a strong unit through the draft over the past five or so seasons, drafting players such as Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Montez Sweat, Jamin Davis, Benjamin St-Juste, Kam Curl, and many others. Right now, they lack strength at corner and linebacker, especially the depth of the linebacker position. Assuming Cole Holcomb re-signs with the team (which I hope he does, but honestly have no clue if he will), the starting linebackers are set in Jamin Davis, who grew immensely as a player over the course of the season, and Holcomb, a centerpiece of the defense since the 2019 season. Either way, the Commanders need to draft a cornerback in the first round if they choose to focus on the defensive side of the ball.

I love three guys: Devon Witherspoon, Joey Porter, Jr., and Christian Gonzalez.

Devon Witherspoon: Witherspoon reads the hips of receivers extremely well which lets him read and react in both man and zone coverage. He plays extremely physical, and plays very smart and clearly has a strong understanding of the defensive system he plays in just watching how smoothly he moves from spot to spot and seems to always be making a play. I mentioned his physicality, something BSJ uses lots of, but I also mentioned how smart Witherspoon plays. He times his breaks and hits well to break up passes without getting to the spot too early. BSJ gets called for PI a lot, and a lot of the calls are honestly not good ones in my opinion, so if he can work on the timing of his physicality, and Witherspoon plays in the secondary with him, I think the Commanders could solidify the defensive backfield. Kendall Fuller played well this season following the departure of William Jackson, but his speed isn’t what it used to be, and we can save $8 million in cap space by releasing him.

Joey Porter, Jr.: Porter is a very long and physical corner who can run with most. If you watch him up against Marvin Harrison, Jr., he ran with him extremely well and played good coverage, Harrison is just a freak of nature and made some crazy catches. Again, I think adding another 6’3″ corner to the back end of the defense with BSJ would be stellar. You can also transition to more press man with bigger corners and allow the pass rush to get home faster, rather than letting teams dink and doink five yard passes all the way up the field. I think Porter probably pairs the best with Ben St-Juste of these three corners, but his skill might not be maximized as well in the defensive system we mainly run.

Christian Gonzalez: Gonzalez offers another large frame standing 6’2″ and weighing in around 200 pounds. In my opinion, Gonzalez plays the position the most “naturally.” He flips his hips with ease and keeps his upper and lower body movements separated extremely well, all while keeping his eyes up to read the play. He breaks on the ball in a way that makes it seem like he came out of nowhere. His ability to read the field really excites me, especially if Jack Del Rio continues calling a primarily zone defense. Gonzalez is probably my favorite of these three prospects, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t make it all the way to 16. Unlike Porter, he might not pair as well with BSJ’s skillset, but I think he fits the defensive system the best.

Hope you guys enjoyed reading about a couple guys I think can elevate the team even further. I’ll write one of these every couple of days on prospects I like for each side of the ball, what position, and where in the draft we should target them, so if you’re interested be sure to keep an eye on the Twitter page. Next time will be round one offensive targets. Hope you enjoy, and as always, HTTC (#HTTR).

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