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The NFL Draft Could Change the Fortune of this NFC Team

After spending years at the bottom of the division, there's one team in the NFC that could return to the playoffs with a strong draft.
Commanders Draft Playoffs

The power in the NFL is constantly shifting. A strong draft could help the Washington Commanders return to the playoffs in 2024.

After Finishing Last in the NFC East, the Washington Commanders Could Make Playoffs With a Strong Draft

The Commanders wiped the slate clean after a tumultuous stretch of seasons. They head into the draft without a clear starter at quarterback but own six picks in the top 100 selections. Many around the league have Caleb Williams pegged as the top selection by the Chicago Bears. This leaves the Commanders to decide between prospects like Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, and J.J. McCarthy. All eyes will be on Washington when the draft kicks off.

Finding the Right Fit at Quarterback

A player’s success in the NFL can be heavily dictated by where he is drafted. Players like Baker Mayfield and Jared Goff are recent examples of quarterback prospects who had to bounce around to different teams after being selected first overall. While hitting on the right quarterback can accelerate a team’s rebuild, missing on one can set a team back years. With Washington, their playoff hopes start and end with finding the right fit at quarterback.

New offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury comes from an air-raid system at the college level. He learned under Mike Leach and has architected a handful of highly potent offenses throughout his years as a coach and coordinator. Kingsbury could prefer a player like Daniels, who put up gaudy numbers at LSU. Daniels’ deep-ball accuracy is one of his best traits, and his mobility out of the pocket makes him a highly coveted prospect.

The fit for Washington and Daniels would be solid. At LSU, Daniels was throwing to two future NFL receivers. In Washington, Jahan Dotson and Terry McClaurin are waiting to be unlocked. Neither Dotson nor McClaurin has played with an elite passer in the NFL, meaning finding the right fit at quarterback is crucial for Washington.

Bolster the Pass Rush

After years of adding to the defensive line in the draft, Washington heads into the draft as this being one of the top needs. Signing Dorrance Armstrong offers plenty of upside, while Clelin Ferrell could continue to grow under Dan Quinn. The team still needs juice off the edge, and now they must use the draft to find a quality edge rusher. In the 2024 NFL Draft, there are few blue-chip edge rushers.

With two picks in the second round, the Commanders could be aggressive and trade back into the first round for an edge player they love. Chop Robinson would give the defense a boost, as would Laiatu Latu. With how valuable rushing the passer is in the NFL, the Commanders must upgrade this unit in the draft if they’re going to make a playoff push.

Keep Stocking Corners

In 2023, the team drafted Emmanuel Forbes in the first round. Forbes was undersized and struggled as a rookie. The team hasn’t done enough to fix a pass defense that gave up the most yards through the air in 2023 (per ESPN stats). Signing Jeremy Chinn at safety and taking a flier on former first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene will help, but the team needs a blue-chip cornerback for the defense. Like pass-rusher, landing an elite cornerback in the draft will likely require trading back into the first round for Washington.

Scouts consider this group of cornerbacks to be deep and compelling. Players like Max Melton and Kalen King could be day-two targets for Washington. King is coming off a down year but has a chance to flourish under the right coaching. Melton has the physical tools to be an NFL starter and is one of the fastest corners in the draft. New defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. comes from Dallas, where he coaxed plenty of turnovers out of his secondary. The combination of Whitt and a dynamic secondary could be the recipe for a significant bounce-back in Washington. The pieces are there for the Commanders to make a playoff push with a solid draft.


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