Quickly shaking off the hangover from Day 2 of the NFL Draft, I woke up early to prepare for Day 3 and the five Washington picks to come. That’s one of the main advantages of the NFL Draft: it’s relentless. It keeps coming to you. No matter how you did the day before — at least not in the moment — you need to pull yourself together and make a fresh set of choices right now. So wake up!
So how did Washington do it? Let’s quickly review the picks and talk a bit about the undrafted free agents they’ve already signed.
Round 4: 113 – Percy Butler, S, Louisiana
Butler wasn’t a name I knew before the draft, so once he got drafted I had to do some scouting online. One of the first things I came across was Chris Simms’ video review of Butler, of which I’ll transcribe an excerpt, but the full review is in the tweet below.
Butler was Simms’ No. 5 safety in the draft:
“He is a guy who is not versatile. There is free security all the way. You want it as a security blanket and almost nothing else. He will tackle, he is not afraid to tackle. He is phenomenal on special teams. The guy goes downhill. He is not the greatest tackler in the field. The asshole ran 4.36 at the Combine. Has extraordinary acceleration. When he reads it and leaves. He “get his ass up and go”.
He goes on to say that his flaw is that he doesn’t do well what Cam Chancellor did, which is to take that speed and be able to break down and adjust it and redirect it to the ball. It’s something he needs to work on.
“When you talk about ball skills, playing the ball in the air, being able to run with high level WRs, bursting, it’s mind blowing. He is made for the pass. He’s an NFL free safety, and he has elite skill in his ability to cover and get the ball down in the air. There are elite traits with this kid when it comes to speed and acceleration, and the feet, the feet are real.
He moves like a top WR. I could see it being a late second, third round.
As someone who would have been happy with Maryland’s Nick Cross at 47, in part because he was considered one of the best and true free safeties in the draft, that assessment was a symphony to my ears. Based on that, not only do I think Butler is becoming a staple on special teams, but I think he’s a serious contender for McCain in a free safety. Glory!
TRADE! Washington traded with Carolina here, pinching their 4th and 6th rounders in two 5th rounders. I loved this move.
Round 5: No. 144 (from CAR via JAX) – Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
For me, this choice was probably more important from a “team building philosophy” perspective than from an actual player perspective. From the start of the project, I felt it was absolutely essential that the team had a “plan B” in the works at QB, in case something went wrong with the Carson Wentz project. My preference was Matt Corral, but I also like Howell.
Yes, Howell’s continued fall may have “forced” Washington’s hand – his value being just too good to pass up in the 5th round – but I don’t care. Now the QB pipeline is full and the team has some breathing room as it enters the 2022 season and beyond.
I sincerely hope Wentz plays his ass and is successful next year, but if he doesn’t, Washington — and a number of other teams — will potentially find themselves on a QB feeding frenzy in the 2023 draft. Howell’s presence at least gives them a chance to avoid total despair at this point. This pick could end up being the most important of the entire draft for Washington.
NFL Network’s James Jones:
(Packers SB Wideout)
His favorite value in the draft was Sam Howell.
“I love Sam Howell’s pick… Yeah, we all know Wentz is in there, but I wouldn’t be surprised… I definitely believe he’s the starter for Week 8 or 9 Commanders.”
— WeGotAQB (@chet1970) April 30, 2022
Round 5: 149 (from CAR) – Cole Turner, TE, Nevada
I suspect that choice made Mark Tyler very happy. It made me happy too. I like the idea of writing tight ends regularly, because they often takes time to develop, and they are an increasingly critical element of many offences. Where John Bates was a blocking demon, Turner is the kind of tight end who is a QB’s best friend, able to grab almost anything that comes into his airspace. He’s not a burner and doesn’t have a great ability to detach from what I’ve seen so far, but he looks like the kind of target that could be a moving red zone threat chain for fenders.
He, like many tight ends Washington has controlled over the past two years, is a converted WR. It will be exciting to see how he evolves.
Round 7: 230 – Chris Paul, G, Tulsa
Based on how the team was drafting on Day 2, I thought there would be two main priorities on Day 3: a free safety to compete with McCain and a guard prospect, to provide more durable depth behind Schweitzer. and Norwell. Butler ticks the first box and Paul absolutely checks the second.
Somehow this guy, who is 6’4″, 324 pounds ran a 4.89 40 at the Combine. In addition to his athleticism, Paul stands out for his intelligence and excellent character. He is versatile – can play guard and tackle – and was rated a 5th round talent by many observers. I love this pick here and can’t wait to see what John Matsko can do with him.
Round 7: #240 (from PHI via IND) – Christian Holmes, CB, Oklahoma State
Holmes is another guy I didn’t know before the draft, but digging deeper into his assessment, his situation seems pretty similar to a number of the other picks, especially the Day 2 picks. He’s on the older end of the spectrum, experienced, and should be ready to compete for a spot on the roster from the start. In Holmes’ case, he will be 25 at the start of the season.
The average age of Washington’s 2022 draft class is 22.9. A group older than Ron Rivera and his team are looking for instant impact.
Oldest player – Christian Holmes (24.7)
Youngest player – Sam Howell (21.6)
— Ethan Gifts (@Ethan_Gifts) April 30, 2022
Apparently, Holmes had been in contact with the team shortly before the draft, and the feeling seems to be that he is a good choice.
Christian Holmes tells us he “clicked” with Commanders DBs coach Chris Harris in the build-up to the draft. Holmes thinks he’ll fit into the NFL easily because of that and his maturity
— Pete Hailey (@PeteHaileyNBCS) April 30, 2022
With impressive athletic metrics and a nice film of his All-Star Game, I like this pick as a development prospect at CB.
Oklahoma State CB Christian Holmes (6,000, 200) is a draft prospect who could turn into a Day 2 pick after finishing his best season in 21 and an impressive @Hula_Bowl performance. It will be interesting to see tracking data and Holmes’ athletic score from @RAanalytics pic.twitter.com/j9MJJJbSRu
— Cory Yates (@CoryRAanalytics) January 14, 2022
Undrafted free agents
If asked about the biggest gap left after the draft, I imagine Commander fans would shout, almost in unison, “LINEBACKER!” made. These include:
Of this group, White intrigues me the most. He fielded 22 reps on his pro day and his film shows an excellent ability to cross the line of scrimmage. I’m still trying to figure out why he wasn’t drafted.
Other notable UDFAs include Sam Houston State WR Jequez Ezzard, who looks like he could compete for a punt return role, and several other tight ends, including Armani Rogers (Ohio) and Curtis Hodges (Arizona State), as well as massive QB Cole Kelley, who I suspect is another QB-to-TE conversion project.
The complete list is available here.
After taking a deeper dive into the Day 3 Crew, I feel much more comfortable with the overall Commanders draft. A very solid “A-” on day 3 pulls the draft to a B (now leaning B+), in my mind. I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below.