What will Chris Rodriguez Jr. and Andre Jones bring to the Commanders?
By Dean Jones
What will Chris Rodriguez Jr. and Andre Jones bring to the Washington Commanders after they were chosen to round off the team’s 2023 NFL Draft class?
It was a long process, but the Washington Commanders finally have their 2023 NFL Draft class officially confirmed. Ron Rivera ended up with seven selections after sacrificing one pick to move up and land edge rusher K.J. Henry out of Clemson, which should help the team as it looks to make major strides under new ownership next season.
Day 3 can become tiresome with four rounds and less interest than usual. But this stage of the process is what separates the contenders from the also-rans based on recent history.
The Commanders have found some rough diamonds in recent years – Darrick Forrest and Kamren Curl, for example. Considering the urgency for the head coach to get things right in 2023, any help would be beneficial with no spare financial resources available to spend.
Commanders draft Chris Rodriguez Jr. at No. 193 overall
Rivera gave his new play-caller Eric Bieniemy another weapon to potentially call upon when the Commanders selected Chris Rodriguez Jr. at No. 193 overall. The running back is a powerful presence with a knack for finding the end zone, which is reflected in his 33 touchdowns over the last four seasons at Kentucky.
Rodriguez doesn’t have blazing speed and is a nonfactor in pass protection. But his physicality, ability to absorb contact, and on-field vision could see carries come his way right out of the gate.
If Bieniemy can enhance the player’s pass-catching credentials, which flashed on a very limited basis, it only opens things up more. Although generating carries with Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson atop the depth chart seems to be the biggest stumbling block.
Commanders draft Andre Jones at No. 233 overall
Rounding off the Commanders’ draft in 2023 was Andre Jones at No. 233 overall. And as far as landing spots go, this is a pretty good one for the Louisiana product given the need for immediate assistance at the defensive second level.
Jones has the size to line up as an edge rusher either as a 4-3 defensive end or standing up as an outside linebacker. His main strength in college was tempting blockers into angles they have no business attempting and blowing past them en route to the backfield.
The prospect is always looking for counters and keeps his hands busy. Jones doesn’t have the speed to be considered dynamic, and there is also a level of stiffness to his bend that needs refinement if he wants to earn a roster spot.
Considering needs and talent, the Commanders came out of this draft with a decent haul. They didn’t overcommit, spent their capital wisely, and went through with their conviction regarding Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett as their starting quarterback options.
Now, attention immediately turns to the start of on-field workouts, which begin on Monday. Business is about to pick up and hopefully, this class can all play their part.