Carving out the Washington Commanders 2023 NFL Draft blueprint

(Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) Jahan Dotson
(Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) Jahan Dotson /
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(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Christian Gonzalez /

Commanders must gauge draft strengths

The Washington Commanders need to gauge where the strengths and weaknesses are in this year’s draft. Then look at needs and the best prospects available when they’re on the clock.

With that in mind, assuming they remain at No. 16 overall, the Commanders almost have to draft a cornerback in the first round.

Cornerback is a position of need. Kendall Fuller is getting older. Benjamin St-Juste has had injury issues. The recently acquired Cameron Dantzler Sr. should help, but he is far from a cure-all.

Danny Johnson and Rachad Wildgoose can play the slot, but neither is better than average. And there are five or six potential studs waiting to be drafted.

They are long and fast, with great ball skills and the strength to stand up to A.J. Brown. Rank them however you want – Devon Witherspoon or Kelee Ringo, Joey Porter Jr. or Cam Smith, Christian Gonzalez or Eli Ricks – these guys will all be gone by the time Washington picks in the second round.

If the Commanders want an elite corner, they have to get him early.

There are plenty of other talented cornerbacks in this year’s draft – the University of Maryland boasts two of them). But when I have watched the group, I see a pretty big drop-off after those top six.

That isn’t to say that someone like Deonte Banks won’t be a fine pro. It’s just those atop the pecking order are so good that even if there is a drop-off, you are still looking at some good potential in later rounds.

But Washington probably wants an elite prospect if they can get him.