The Washington Commanders have hosted a myriad of potential draftees for top-30 prospect visits. The main takeaways? They’re definitely considering taking a running back in the middle rounds, an offensive linemen feels like a lock at some point and a wide receiver could be the pick at No. 11 overall.
Having already met with Chris Olave, the Commanders turned things up a notch before Wednesday’s deadline. Just this week, the team has hosted Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson, whose meeting was oddly kept under wraps, and 6-foot-4 USC wideout Drake London.
It’s a star-studded list of prospects and it’s conceivable to assume Washington will select one of them with its first-round pick next Thursday.
In addition to that foursome, Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill, Boston College lineman Zion Johnson, who was part of the team’s local pro day, and running backs Kenneth Walker and Breece Hall have also passed through Ashburn.
No surprises, right? Correct, but that changed on Wednesday.
After meeting with prospects through the pre-draft process who’d fill positions of need, The Athletic’s Ben Standig surprisingly shared that Washington scheduled an “off-site” meeting with Georgia pass rusher Travon Walker.
The Commanders reportedly scheduled a pre-draft meeting with Georgia defensive end Travon Walker.
Curveball? No, this report is the equivalent to throwing fans a knuckleball after they’ve been sitting fastball for weeks, if not months.
Initially intending to host Walker at team headquarters, the Commanders have pivoted to meeting Walker on Georgia’s campus in Athens. Per Standig, the team is not expected to send Ron Rivera, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio or its front-office leaders, which would presumably include general manager Martin Mayhew.
That suggests the Commanders are merely doing their due diligence on Walker, who could potentially be the No. 1 overall pick. It’s unlikely the former Bulldog falls outside of the top five picks, let alone the top 10, but this year’s top 10 is as unpredictable as it’s been for as long as we can remember.
Of course, Washington has no urgent need to draft a pass rusher. Though Montez Sweat is entering the final year of his rookie deal, the expectation is he’ll have his fifth-year option picked up, which would lock him up through 2023.
The deadline for teams to exercise fifth-year options is May 3, so we’ll know soon enough where Sweat stands. Whatever happens, the Commanders’ starting DL is made up of four first-round picks. Adding a fifth would create an unnecessary log jam and represent a missed opportunity to address another need.
On the other hand, Washington has consider whether they can sign all four starters to second contracts. Like Sweat, Daron Payne is out of a contract after 2022, though reports indicate Washington would like to extend the star DT.
Walker’s athleticism and ridiculously high upside are intriguing, but drafting a defensive lineman in Round 2 or beyond would make much more sense.
Having already welcomed Texas A&M DE Micheal Clemons, UCLA DT Otito Ogbonnia and Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey for pre-draft visits, the Commanders are clearly kicking the tires on adding to their defensive line depth.
The Walker meeting will grab headlines, and understandably so, but we wouldn’t view it as anything more than standard due diligence and Washington considering all scenarios (which most teams do) with draft night just a week away.