What will Braeden Daniels and K.J. Henry bring to the Commanders?

(Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports) K.J. Henry
(Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports) K.J. Henry /

What will Braeden Daniels and K.J. Henry bring to the Washington Commanders after they became their fourth and fifth-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft?

After a mixed bag of picks for the Washington Commanders over their opening two days of the 2023 NFL Draft, Ron Rivera and his staff had five selections to navigate over the final four rounds. And after filling some key needs earlier in this process, there was officially plenty of freedom to get creative and aggressive in equal measure.

Emmanuel Forbes, Quan Martin, and Ricky Stromberg all come into the organization with tremendous potential. Sure, some top prospects were overlooked – especially in the second round – but there is a method to Rivera’s madness that’s been the core component behind his roster-building ethos since becoming head coach.

Commanders draft Braeden Daniels at No. 118 overall

The Commanders got some early involvement with their fourth-round selection at No. 118 overall. After some fierce deliberation, those in power settled on Braeden Daniels, a versatile offensive lineman out of Utah who can play almost anywhere across the protection.

Daniels could transition to guard once he gets to the pros. His balance and technique are solid foundations from which to build and this is matched by eye-catching athleticism to get out on the move in pursuit of impacting proceedings at the second level.

One knock on Daniels is size. He’s not got the frame associated with a modern-day NFL offensive tackle, which is why locking him into the interior seems like the best course of action.

This is a solid depth/development pickup by the Commanders. One that can immediately push the underperforming veterans already on the books throughout the upcoming preparation period.

Commanders draft K.J. Henry at No. 137 overall

The Commanders followed this up soon after by trading up to No. 137 overall in the fifth round to select K.J. Henry. Something that adds another edge rushing presence to the team’s options.

Henry might not have been as high-profile as his Clemson teammates Myles Murphy and Bryan Breese, but that does not detract from his exciting skill set. His athletic bend around the edge could be of significant use and in terms of frame, it’s everything one looks for in a productive NFL pass-rusher.

The prospect is intelligent, knows exactly how to set the edge, and can recognize things developing relatively quickly for good measure. Henry has the necessary length to become a decent rotational edge and potential starter over time, which is exactly what the Commanders might need depending on the futures of Chase Young and Montez.

Both starting defensive ends are out of contract in 2024 after Washington opted not to pick up Young’s fifth-year option. It will be difficult to keep both, so having an insurance policy like Henry represents good value at this juncture.

Henry isn’t the most explosive and hasn’t filled prominent starting duties in college. But this is a low-risk, high-reward option that cost them nothing more than a sixth-rounder to move up and acquire.

Filling out the trenches over the opening two picks on Day 3. And hopefully, the Commanders can reap some long-term rewards with both Henry and Daniels moving forward.

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