Sunday, April 30, 2023

Washington Commanders 2023 NFL Draft Grades Roundup

The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the rearview mirror, and we have compiled a consensus ranking using NFL draft grades from a variety of sites.

What draft grades have the media given to the Washington Commanders? What are they saying about the Commanders' 2023 draft haul?

MORE: 2023 NFL Strength of Schedule - Grade: B

If the ball finds Forbes in the NFL like it did in college, his lean frame won't be a concern. They eschewed other needs to bolster the secondary again with nickel back/safety Martin and then grabbed the solid Stromberg a bit earlier than I expected him to go, as centers were quickly coming off the board.

Daniels will excel if he plays guard in the NFL. Henry's combination of strength and agility on the edge made him a good find in the fifth round, and Jones has potential on the outside. The Commanders chose not to select a tight end but Rodriguez does meet their need for a thumper in the backfield.

ESPN - Grade: B

So the Commanders really are going to go into the season with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett as their quarterbacks, huh? They passed on Will Levis and Hendon Hooker. I would have done differently, but at least I liked who they added in Round 1. I've been calling cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (16) this draft's "Splendid Splinter," because of his frame. He is a thin 6-foot-1 and 166 pounds. All he does is make plays, though. He had six pick-sixes and 14 total interceptions in his college career. He should play early and often in Washington.

The Commanders went back to the secondary in Round 2, picking my fourth-ranked safety Jartavius Martin (47), who played a lot as a nickel. They ranked 26th in takeaways last season (18), so they went all-in on needs. They also added two interior linemen with their next two picks. I thought they reached a round for center Ricky Stromberg (97), but the four-year starter is technically sound. Braeden Daniels (118) is light on his feet but undersized; he is my seventh-ranked guard.

The quarterback question likely will linger into 2024, and I'm not sure Washington hit all of its needs outside of the secondary with this class.

SI - Grade: C

The Commanders prioritized the secondary, but they made a few head-scratching moves, starting with Forbes, whose 166-pound frame might give him fits at the next level. Forbes has length and he displayed a knack for making plays in college, but his lack of strength might not allow him to play as free in the NFL. Martin struggled with tackling and had subpar instincts on the field at Illinois. Washington gets a passing grade for addressing needs in the secondary, but perhaps it bet on the wrong players.

PFF - Grade: B

Day 1: The 26th-ranked player on PFF's big board, Forbes was elite when it came to playing the ball in college. He produced an 87.2 PFF grade in 2022 and finished his three-year career at Mississippi State with 14 interceptions and 17 pass breakups.

Day 2: Martin comes off the board 47th overall to Washington after slotting in at 94th on the PFF big board. He can fill a versatile role in the secondary for the Commanders, who clearly placed an emphasis on improving that group in this draft. He's played everywhere from outside corner to slot corner to safety in his five-year career at Illinois.

Stromberg could wind up as a starter anywhere on the interior in the NFL, but this is one of the biggest reaches of the day. He ranks 228th on the PFF big board. He did grade well in college, though, producing an 83.4 PFF run-blocking grade and a 77.1 PFF pass-blocking grade.

Day 3: Daniels started at left guard in 2019, right tackle in 2021 and left tackle in 2022. He'll likely fit in best on the interior in the NFL, but he offers athleticism and versatile depth for a Washington offensive line that finished last season as the 24th-ranked unit in PFF pass-blocking grade.

After news came out right before the draft that the Commanders are not planning on exercising the fifth-year option for 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young, they trade up to add K.J Henry off the edge. This doesn't necessarily mean a move is imminent — we're now in the fifth round, after all — but is notable nonetheless. Henry earned an 84.0 pass-rush grade with a 15.9% pass-rush win rate in 2022 but is a bit older and didn't test very well.

The Commanders add another bigger, power back to their backfield who can contribute as an early down grinder in the run game. Rodriguez took a step back from a production standpoint in 2022 behind a worse offensive line, but he still earned an elite 90.7 PFF rushing grade behind 3.8 yards after contact per run and 64 missed tackles forced.

The Commanders add another bigger power back who can contribute as an early-down grinder in the run game. Rodriguez took a step back from a production standpoint in 2022 behind a worse offensive line, but he still earned an elite 90.7 rushing grade, averaging 3.8 yards after contact per attempt and forcing 64 missed tackles.

Jones is a long edge rusher (6-foot-5 with 34-inch arms) who has delivered 70.0-plus PFF pass-rush grades and at least 30 pressures in each of the past two seasons at Louisiana. He's experienced with nearly 2,500 defensive snaps across six college seasons.

Fox Sports - Grade: B-

The Commanders took some chances, starting with a 166-pound CB in Round 1 (Emmanuel Forbes). If he holds up, they definitely boosted their secondary with him and second-round S Quan Martin. They also got some developmental help on the offensive line with C Ricky Stromberg (third) and G Braeden Daniels (fourth). Every pick felt just a little bit over-drafted, though. And not adding a tight end seems like an oversight.

USA Today - Grade: C

Kind of a quiet draft as owner Dan Snyder quietly heads for a $6 billion door. Ball-hawking CB Emmanuel Forbes (Round 1) and slot CB Jartavius Martin are probably immediate starters for a pass defense that ranked fourth last year. Of note, per reports, the team opted not to pick up the fifth-year option of 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young, so fifth-rounder KJ Henry might need to be ready next year.

The Ringer - Grade: C

The Commanders are in a weird spot right now, in transition from one owner to the next and without a clear-cut starter at quarterback. So it's probably no surprise that the team's draft felt a little bit rudderless, too: In the first round, Washington took a playmaking corner in Mississippi State's Emmanuel Forbes, who brings takeaway-creating instincts but an outlier lack of bulk (he's just 166 pounds). I'm a fan of second-rounder Jartavius "Quan" Martin, who has the versatility to play both the safety and nickelback spots. And third-round center Ricky Stromberg could develop into a future starter. But overall, this is a pretty underwhelming haul for a team stuck in organizational limbo.

Sporting News - Grade: D

The Commanders did OK filling their defensive needs, but notably absent was linebacker, tight end and developmental quarterback. They also reached for Forbes and Martin early and didn't good value in either Stromberg or Daniels. They remain the by-far worst team in the otherwise loaded NFC East.

Touchdown Wire - Grade: B

Washington is already getting poleaxed for taking Emmanuel Forbes with Christian Gonzalez still on the board, but if your preference is for a rangier, aggressive cornerback with insane production (14 interceptions and an FBS-record six pick-sixes in his collegiate career), Forbes hits the mark, especially if he's able to add to his 166-pound frame. There should be fewer arguments about the addition of Illinois' Jartavius Martin; he's a corner-to-safety convert who can succeed all over your secondary. Ricky Stromberg and Braeden Daniels add to a line in need, and if there's a sleeper here, it might be Andre Jones Jr., who racked up 20 sacks and 109 total pressures over for seasons as a starter for the Ragin' Cajuns. And watch out for KJ Henry, who had five sacks and 53 total pressures last season for Clemson.

The Commanders have made their statement at quarterback — they are clearly all-in on Sam Howell, and I don't disagree with that assessment.

More: 2023 NFL Draft Grade Roundups

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