If the first six games have taught us anything, it’s that 2022 is going to be a rollercoaster season for the Washington Commanders. While the team’s performance fluctuates from week-to-week, the hope is the current regime is building the foundation for sustained success.
The best way to do that? Build through the draft.
The Commanders have had an inconsistent track record in the draft recently. For every Terry McLaurin, Kam Curl and Chase Roullier, they’ve had a Bryce Love, Geron Christian, Josh Doctson, Derrius Guice and Ryan Anderson, among others.
Washington took a different approach to the 2022 draft, taking older players who projected to immediately contribute as rookies. They abandoned the best-player availability strategy and focused on players who can help them win now.
No, the Commanders haven’t done much winning, but that’s not all on their rookies. With more than a quarter of the season done (how are we already here?!) let’s review Washington’s 2022 draft class by handing out some player grades.
Reviewing the Commanders 2022 draft class through five games
Jahan Dotson, WR (Round 1, No. 16 overall)
Remember when the Dotson pick was viewed as a reach? Remember when Washington fans were begging for Chris Olave at No. 11 overall? In fairness, Olave has been a stud for New Orleans, which drafted the former Buckeye with the pick they acquired from Washington in the first-round trade-down.
Both players have hit the ground running as rookies.
While Dotson hasn’t established himself as a focal part of the passing game (yet), he’s Washington’s go-to weapon in the red zone. Entering Week 5 — he missed Sunday’s game vs Tennessee and Week 6 vs Chicago with a hamstring injury — Dotson was tied with Bills star Stefon Diggs for the most touchdowns of any receiver.
In four games, Dotson has 12 catches for 152 yards and four TDs. Not earth-shattering statistics by any stretch, but that can be attributed to low volume, as Dotson’s 22 targets trail fellow first-round WRs Garrett Wilson (39), Olave (36) and Drake London (32), respectively.
Despite the low target share, it’s clear Dotson has the best hands of any receiver in this year’s loaded class. We’d love to see him more involved once he’s back from injury, but Washington clearly hit a home run with this pick.
Phidarian Mathis, DL (Round 2, No. 47 overall)
Unfortunately, Dotson is one of the only rookies we can thoroughly review. Mathis was headed for a significant role as a rookie and looked the part of a formidable run defender throughout training camp and the preseason before he suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee in Week 1 that required season-ending surgery.
Mathis’ rookie year lasted all of three snaps. The second-round pick out of Alabama is in great spirits post-surgery and the Commanders’ defense will be better the second he’s back on the field. Who knows? If Daron Payne leaves as a free agent, Mathis could walk into a starting role as a sophomore in 2023.
Surely that’s part of why Washington drafted him, no?