Fans will hate consensus Commanders pick in 2023 mock drafts
By Jerry Trotta
The Washington Commanders just put a bow on the 2022 NFL Draft, so fans probably want nothing to do with looking ahead to next year’s showcase. Of course, all 2023 draft talk will be tabled in the coming weeks.
While the event is trending, though, predictions for next year are coming in hot and heavy. In fact, prominent outlets like Pro Football Focus, Bleacher Report and The Athletic have all published mocks following the conclusion of this year’s draft.
While Pro Football Focus had the Commanders take Texas A&M safety Antonio Johnson, whom they likened to one Kyle Hamilton, at No. 10 overall, BR and The Athletic had the team take an admittedly puzzling route with the pick.
The selection? Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer.
Commanders fans will hate the consensus pick for the team in these 2023 mock drafts.
No, this is nothing against Mayer. The Fighting Irish star’s player comp is TJ Hockenson, whom the Lions drafted No. 8 overall in 2019. And with the Falcons’ selection of Florida superstar Kyle Pitts at No. 4 overall in 2021, tight ends going in the top 10 is very common nowadays.
Mayer became a household name this past season in South Bend, securing 71 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. At 6-foot-4 and 251 pounds, Mayer has an expansive catch radius and athleticism to create after the catch.
Like Hockenson and Pitts, he’d step in as Washington’s top tight end from day one … or would he? Logan Thomas is under contract through 2024 and though he’s on the wrong side of 30, 2022 will mark just his sixth season as a tight end.
As a former college quarterback at Virginia Tech, the start of Thomas’ career got delayed, so he’s younger compared to most 30 year olds.
While Thomas’ presence shouldn’t dissuade the Commanders from bolstering the position, have The Athletic and Bleacher Report forgotten about John Bates, the team’s best rookie performer in 2021 and Cole Turner, who they just drafted?
Bates and Turner could be the team’s TE tandem of the future. With Bates excelling as a run-blocker and underneath routes in the passing game, the 22-year-old Turner has the upside to become a three-down pass-catching tight end who could stretch the field and be a nightmare matchup in the redzone.
You obviously can’t bank on that happening, but using a first-round pick, especially the No. 10 overall selection, on a tight end, doesn’t seem smart. We’d take a safety, cornerback, offensive tackle and even another wide receiver if the top prospect fell to them due to the expected early run on QBs, over a tight end.
This isn’t all to say Mayer won’t be a stud once he turns pro. But based on the investments Washington currently has in the position, taking a tight end this early would be a tough sell to fans. Luckily, we still have another 7-10 months before we can justify losing sleep about the draft again.