The 2023 NFL Draft order is nearly set and the Washington Commanders have their spot with the 16th overall pick.
After finishing 8-8-1 in 2022, it’s a reasonable spot for Washington’s selection, smack dab in the middle of the first round. It’s the same spot the Commanders found themselves in a year ago when they elected to trade back from the 11th overall spot and snagged Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson five picks later.
Drafting Dotson looks to be a home run judging strictly from the 22-year-old’s rookie campaign when he finished tied for first among all rookies with seven receiving touchdowns on the year despite missing five games. He also finished seventh among rookies in receiving yards, third in average yards per reception (14.9), and tied for fifth in receiving yards per game (43.6).
But Dotson isn’t the only college prospect who went on to enjoy NFL success after being taken 16th overall. That selection has a rich history of pumping out generational talents in recent memory.
From 2014 through 2019, four of the six players drafted 16th overall have been named Pro Bowlers multiple times in their respective careers: Cowboys OG Zack Martin (2014), Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey (2017), Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds (2018), and Panthers DE Brian Burns (2019). So, the Commanders have an opportunity to once again strike gold at the spot.
Here’s the full order of the first 18 picks of the 2023 Draft, with the remaining picks to be determined following the playoffs:
1. Chicago Bears
2. Houston Texans
3. Arizona Cardinals
4. Indianapolis Colts
5. Seattle Seahawks (from DEN)
6. Detroit Lions (from LAR)
7. Las Vegas Raiders
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. Carolina Panthers
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from NO)
11. Tennessee Titans
12. Houston Texans (from CLE)
13. New York Jets
14. New England Patriots
15. Green Bay Packers
16. Washington Commanders
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
18. Detroit Lions
So, what are Washington’s options with the 16th overall pick? There are a few positions of need in Ashburn starting with the offensive line which underperformed in 2022. Here are three areas of the depth chart that the Commanders could target with the 16th pick and a few players who might be available to them when they’re on the clock:
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The offensive line really could go any direction in this draft, with three OL projected to be the first three off the board, including UGA’s Broderick Jones. If Washington is lucky enough to have Jones slide to 16, his 6-foot-4, 310-pound self would be an appealing option for the Burgundy & Gold. He stabilized the national champions’ line this season, not allowing a single sack in 439 pass-blocking snaps in his collegiate career.
O’Cyrus Torrence, IOL, Florida
Torrence is a quick-moving interior offensive lineman whose strong play for the Gators this season enabled Anthony Richardson to light up opposing defenses (for the first half of the season at least). He became a consensus All-American this season and was also one of Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated OL with an 89.1 overall grade.
Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma
Harrison sustained an ankle injury against Texas Tech in November and missed the remainder of the season for the Sooners, but NFL teams shouldn’t balk at snagging the 6-foot-5, 315-pound tackle. Harrison, a D.C. native (Archbishop Carroll HS grad), was named first-team All-Big 12 and is excellent against the pass. His run-blocking might be a project, though.
Brian Branch, DB, Alabama
Branch skyrocketed his stock this past season, his third under Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. He’s a versatile secondary player as he also took snaps at safety for Alabama and is an excellent cover man when it comes to zone coverage – aka Jack del Rio’s scheme of choice.
Kelee Ringo, DB, Georgia
No wonder Georgia won two-straight national championships with all these hot prospects. It’s entirely possible Ringo gets taken well before the Commanders pick at 16, but if he slides, Washington could surely use his speed (4.35 40-yard dash time) and explosive movement in the secondary even if he’s a man-coverage CB by trade.
Cam Smith, DB, South Carolina
Smith can play both inside and outside and has the physicality to match up against bigger receivers. His speed is average among top-rated players at CB this year, but he could provide much-needed depth at corner for Washington
Trenton Simpson, LB, Clemson
The 2023 draft class is by no means loaded at linebacker, but Washington could use some help at the position after Cole Holcomb’s injury limited him to just seven games in 2022. Simpson is by far the best prospect at LB this year. He’s extremely versatile with quick, effortless footwork and has the coverage ability of a safety.
Nolan Smith, LB, Georgia
Another UGA prospect. Smith, like Simpson, has the speed to effectively rush the quarterback off the edge and can also cover shallow-to-mid routes with ease. He tore his pectoral muscle at the end of October, but looked dominant prior to that with 18 tackles for the Bulldogs, seven of which were for losses.
Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
Sanders transferred to Arkansas from Alabama and exploded as an off-ball linebacker flourishing in space. His tackling ability needs a bit of work, but he still managed to force four fumbles for the Razorbacks this season.
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