Day two for the Washington Commanders ended up being just as wild and wacky as Thursday’s first round in the eyes of many. From taking a defensive tackle much earlier than expected to adding a short-yardage back with their third-round selection, I left Day 2 of the NFL Draft scratching my head a bit.
I was expecting the Commanders to go either linebacker, defensive line, tight end, running back or defensive back with their picks on Friday night and boy, I was not surprised with the positional selections. What surprised me, was the players who were announced as their second and third round picks, respectively.
I guess you can say that Washington is yet again the Washington Crimson Tide or the Alabama Commanders, whatever name floats your boat.
There wasn’t a trade to make tonight. I believe Washington should have explored the trade-back market at No. 47 overall especially, but they decided to stay home and take a prospect I had a late- third/early-fourth round grade on in Alabama’s Phidarian Mathis.
Mathis is an excellent run-stuffing defensive tackle that can play the 1-tech for the Commanders in a rotational role. His run stop rate of 9.3% placed him among the elite defensive tackle prospects last season, and he had a pass rush win rate that placed him in the 75th-percentile among all qualified defensive lineman.
In addition, he has really good hands, eyes, and play strength, shedding blocks with ease in the run game and he’s also capable of playing a two-gap technique for Washington as well. He’s a polished player for what his skillset offers, especially against the run.
So what gives? Why was this a reach?
Mathis is an extremely limited athlete. Laterally, north-south, change of direction, you name it, he’s a below average athlete compared to his peers at the NFL level. He was not utilized a three-down interior defensive lineman in college, he’s more of a two-down IDL that has to rotate in and out frequently, with limited upside as a pass-rusher due to his athletic limitations and lack of explosion.
Mathis will probably be a solid rotational defensive lineman for the Commanders going forward, but the price to pay for someone with a low ceiling at the position is too rich to take at pick No. 47 overall. They had better options at the position Mathis plays, for example, UConn’s Travis Jones, or they could’ve gone the route of adding another weapon to benefit Carson Wentz and the offense.
Nonetheless, it was a shocking pick, but Washington will get a player that can contribute right away along the defensive line. After watching the tape again after the draft and thinking on it a bit, I think the Mathis pick is OK.