The Washington Commanders‘ showing in the 2021 draft was underwhelming to say the least, so the pressure is mounting on Ron Rivera and the rest of the front office to net a solid return in this year’s showcase, which is right around the corner.
Equipped with the No. 11 pick, the world is essentially Washington’s oyster.
After all, they could go the obvious route and draft a wide receiver or go off the beaten path and select a cornerback or safety. A quarterback is intriguing, but that seems unlikely given the recent acquisiton of Carson Wentz and that two teams will likely extend themselves for Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett in the top 10.
Whatever happens, the Commanders can’t afford to get cute. Coming off consecutive seven-win seasons and failing to attain a winning record since 2016, the front office needs to make sure they find immediate contributors this year.
That should take development projects and players coming off significant injuries off of the table entirely. With that in mind, let’s highlight four prospects who fall under the latter category and represent risky investments.
4 biggest injury-risk draft targets for Commanders
4. Damone Clark
The Commanders’ need for a linebacker is well-documented. The latest buzz from the Annual League Meeting suggests Cole Holcomb will get serious consideration for the middle linebacker role, but that doesn’t change the fact that the team is severely thin at the position behind last season’s breakout star.
Assuming Washington isn’t considering a LB with the No. 11 pick, pouncing on a touted prospect in the second round is definitely feasible. Unfortunately, potential target Damone Clark is likely to fall lower than Round 2 now that he’s undergoing spinal fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back.
The disk was discovered at the combine and the Clark is now expected to be sidelined for the entirety of the 2022 season. The LSU product will still get drafted, but anytime you mix a back injury with surgery, teams will get scared away.
It’s just a heartbreaking turn of events for Clark, who will likely lose a boatload of money due to the timing of the injury. Coming off a year in which he posted 135 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks playing in the loaded SEC, Clark’s stock has likely fallen from a mid second-round pick to a fourth-round pick.
We wish Clark nothing but the best in his future, but the Commanders would be better served pursuing one of Alabama’s Christian Harris, Montana State’s Troy Andersen, or Wyoming’s Chad Muma with the No. 47 pick.