Washington Commanders NFL Draft Grades 2022: Jahan Dotson a surprise first-round pick

What are the Washington Commanders' grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their needs this offseason?

The 2022 NFL Draft has officially kicked off, and the Washington Commanders have made their first selection. As the seven rounds progress and the team makes all of their picks, we will provide a live draft grade and analysis for each of the Commanders’ selections. How do these new prospects fit with the roster, what kind of impact will they have on the team, and what do the team’s needs look like now that the draft is complete?

Make sure to continue to check back as the 2022 NFL Draft continues for live Washington Commanders draft grades and analysis.

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Washington Commanders grades for 2022 NFL Draft

What are the Commanders‘ grades for their selections in the 2022 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

Round 1, Pick 16: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

During an already chaotic period of the first round, the Washington Commanders quietly made a surprise pick. Washington selected Penn State WR Jahan Dotson at No. 16, the pick they received after trading down with the New Orleans Saints. The Commanders received pick Nos. 16, 98, and 120 from New Orleans in exchange for pick No. 11.

Now at No. 16, it’s clear the Commanders wanted to target a receiver in the first round. Their choice of Dotson, however, seems like a bit of a reach. Dotson, who finished as the 35th overall prospect on the PFN Consensus Board, represents the fifth wide receiver taken in the opening round, making some amends for the reach from Washington here. However, Dotson fails to tick all the boxes of a first-half-of-the-first-round receiver. He heads to the Commanders, who have three similar players already on the depth chart ahead of him.

Grade: D-

Round 2, Pick 47: Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama

Another Alabama defensive lineman heads to Washington as Phidarian Mathis joins the Commanders here. Coming in below other available interior defensive linemen, Mathis is a bit of a reach for Washington. Still, Mathis had a great performance at the Senior Bowl and is as strong as an ox.

It’s murky waters, however, in the nation’s capital as Mathis finds himself in a battle for snaps with Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen in the fray at defensive tackle. Have to think there were other options to tend to here for Washington or even higher-ceiling prospects.

Grade: C-

Round 3, Pick 98: Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Alabama

With significantly less wear on his tires than most running backs in this class, Brian Robinson Jr. has a tailor-made bell-cow skill set for the Commanders. Robinson pulled a contrarian move in today’s college football as he waited out the depth chart at Alabama rather than transfer. He was awarded a dominant final season for the Crimson Tide as the starter. He’s a yards-after-contact machine with terrific vision.

He may not have shown to have a penchant for making plays in the passing game, but he’s more than capable as a runner in space or between the tackles. Deploying a two-RB system seems to be the case – Antonio Gibson can handle the aerial plays and Robinson totes the rock on the ground.

Grade: B-

Round 4, Pick 113: Percy Butler, S, Louisiana

The Washington Commanders had an up-and-down first two days. One could make an argument for all of the picks that they made. However, they still left onlookers wanting more. In Round 4, the Commanders turned to the secondary, selecting Louisiana defensive back Percy Butler. It’s a selection that tracks with Washington’s draft so far.

Butler is by no means a bad player. He has good size at 6’1”, 194 pounds, with near-32” arms. He also has 4.36 speed and visible athletic upside. This feels a little rich for Butler, however, who profiles as more of a prominent special teamer early on. He has flashed playmaking ability on defense, but Washington might have been able to get this player a bit later.

Grade: C-

Round 5, Pick 144: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Remember when Sam Howell and Spencer Rattler were set to do battle as the QB1 of this 2022 NFL Draft class? That feels like a long time ago, as the record-setting North Carolina QB slips to the first pick of the fifth round. While the Washington Commanders have capital (both financially and with draft picks) tied up in Carson Wentz, Howell is too good to pass on here.

While he has the arm to make plays down the field, Howell generates excellent zip on short throws and flashes outstanding accuracy on intermediate plays. He can throw with placement and anticipation. Furthermore, he can be a threat on the ground as a gritty, tough runner when required. While there are holes in his game, the value here leads to only one grade.

Grade: A

Round 5, Pick 149: Cole Turner, TE, Nevada

Having just selected a developmental quarterback, the Commanders’ need for weapons on offense now takes on added importance. They used their first-round selection on wide receiver Jahan Dotson. Now, they add to their tight end group with Nevada TE Cole Turner.

Turner is a tall pass catcher whose height alone allows him to box out smaller defensive backs and make contested catches. He’s also a fairly smooth athlete in space, although he’s not much of a natural separator. Turner also doesn’t provide much from a blocking perspective. However, as a seam and red-zone threat, he can provide value. With Logan Thomas’ long-term future uncertain, this pick makes sense.

Grade: B-

Round 7, Pick 230: Chris Paul, OT, Tulsa

Prior to the draft, sources close to Pro Football Network were hearing that Tulsa offensive tackle Chris Paul wouldn’t make it past Round 4. Still here at pick 230, the Washington Commanders land a player who could fill a position of need. While listed as an offensive tackle, Paul will transition inside to guard at the NFL level. While sometimes that’s taken as disrespectful, Paul’s stout frame and good length, combined with strength and technique, ensure he can make an impact at the NFL level.

Grade: B

Round 7, Pick 240: Christian Holmes, CB, Oklahoma State

Although they added safety Percy Butler earlier in the NFL Draft, the Washington Commanders surprisingly hadn’t addressed a considerable need at the cornerback position. Until now. A slightly smaller cornerback at 5’11”, Christian Holmes still managed to have a relatively productive career for the Cowboys with 28 pass breakups and 3 interceptions. He put together an impressive pre-draft process with a starring role at the Hula Bowl.

Backing that up with a 4.44-second 40-yard dash time and an eye-popping 39” vertical, Holmes has the athletic profile to assist an intelligent approach to the game that sees him routinely in position to make a play. He also plays with physicality against the run. However, it’s not the flashy move the Commanders should have made at the position in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Grade: C

What were the Commanders’ biggest needs entering the draft?

  • QB, WR, S, LB, TE

The Commanders may have added Carson Wentz via a trade, but he is likely nothing more than a bridge QB. The problem for the Commanders is that after adding him, they need to try and put weapons around him. They have needs at receiver and tight end, both of which can help whoever is under center in the next couple of years.

On defense, the safety position was badly exposed last year and is in desperate need of additional talent. The linebacker group also needs some help if this Washington defense is going to live up to its hype.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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