Commanders ignore two key needs in NBC Sports 2023 NFL mock draft

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Drew Sanders
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Drew Sanders /

The Washington Commanders spurned two significant needs for linebacker help in a recent 2023 NFL mock draft from NBC Sports.

Obviously needs will change around the league after the early stages of free agency. These are evident upon further examination of the Washington Commanders’ depth chart heading into a crucial 2023 offseason for the franchise.

While the Commanders have a nice chunk of change to spend in free agency, they’ll need to be smart. Breaking the bank for a marquee player doesn’t seem feasible unless those in power identify a shutdown cornerback or premier offensive lineman that’s guaranteed to shift the needle.

Washington also has eight draft selections currently. The top end was given a seismic shake-up when the Carolina Panthers surged their way to No. 1 overall for their franchise quarterback of choice, but this is inconsequential to the Commanders and shouldn’t impact their approach at No. 16 overall.

Commander select Drew Sanders in NBC Sports mock draft

Much will depend on what reinforcements can be secured from the veteran pool. But a recent mock draft from Glynn Morgan of NBC Sports saw the Commanders ignore their two most pressing needs in favor of selecting Drew Sanders, the imposing linebacker coming out of Arkansas.

"“The Commanders got inconsistent production from their linebacking unit over the past few seasons and are very thin depth wise, too. (Drew) Sanders is a cross between former NFL linebackers, Dan Morgan (Panthers / ’01-’07) and Luke Kuechly (Panthers / ’12-’19) but with a little more size. Last season he registered 103 tackles; 13.5 tackles for loss; nine and a half sacks; five passes defended and three forced fumbles.”"

Sanders is a fantastic prospect and should have a big role immediately wherever he lands. The player is a sideline-to-sideline presence capable of making an impression in all phases, which is exactly what the Commanders need on their second-level interior on defense regardless of whether Cole Holcomb comes back or not.

With that being said, not addressing the offensive line with a blue-chip prospect is a big risk. Especially if Eric Bieniemy wishes to meet lofty expectations following his high-profile switch from the Kansas City Chiefs.

There is also a real desire among the fanbase to find a cornerback capable of shutting down one side of the field. Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste are not enough – so turning down someone like Christian Gonzalez or Joey Porter Jr. would be incredibly foolish.

Sanders looks like an immediate upgrade on anything Washington has right now. So if the correct signings are made in free agency, then this is a luxury the Commanders might be able to afford.

It doesn’t appear as if one of the top four quarterbacks will be there for the taking given the needy teams occupying the top 10. Therefore, the Commanders must focus on strengthening other positions and hope Sam Howell can maximize the sensational opportunity awaiting him in 2023.

If that turns out to be Sanders, nobody would complain too much – providing this doesn’t detract from the two aforementioned priorities that should take preference above all else.

It’ll be a fascinating draft for many reasons. The prospect of new ownership coming into the fold only adds to the pressure and intrigue, so Ron Rivera and his team must cover every base in pursuit of a profitable campaign next time around.

Must Read. 5 realistic goals for the Washington Commanders in 2023 free agency. light