10 Commanders draft picks under threat at 2024 training camp

These draft picks have big points to prove.
Ricky Stromberg
Ricky Stromberg / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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Andre Jones Jr. - Commanders DE/OLB

  • No. 233 overall | 2023 NFL Draft

Andre Jones Jr. may play a different position, but he faces almost the same challenge as Christian Holmes. He is a young late-round draft pick of a previous regime that will be competing against a lot of veteran free agents signed by the new staff.

As with the cornerback position, the Washington Commanders desperately need playmakers at the edge rusher spots. The options available this year combined for a total of 16.5 sacks in 2023. Almost half of those came from free agent Dorance Armstrong Jr. That number helps explain why the coaching staff is giving linebacker Jamin Davis reps on the edge throughout their offseason program.

If Jones demonstrates pass-rushing potential, he could elevate himself on the depth chart. The former seventh-round pick was not able to register a sack during his rookie season. He needs to look dangerous during both drills and preseason games to hold onto his roster spot.

Phidarian Mathis - Commanders DT

  • No. 47 overall | 2022 NFL Draft

Unlike the other players discussed so far, Phidarian Mathis does not necessarily need a great training camp to secure a roster spot. He desperately needs a healthy one.

Mathis missed virtually his entire rookie season and a sizeable chunk of his second year with two different lower body injuries. He has been on the field for just over 200 defensive snaps during his entire professional career. That is not what the Washington Commanders envisioned when they selected him in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

The former Alabama star was supposed to be part of a formidable defensive tackle rotation along with veterans Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. Washington was looking to do what the Philadelphia Eagles have done so well recently, selecting high-end tackles like Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter despite already having quality starters, along with a solid backup in Milton Williams.

Mathis has not been healthy enough to show what such a rotation might accomplish so far. Even if he is healthy this season, the interior force could see his role usurped by rookie Johnny Newton, provided the fellow second-round pick can remain available himself.

If Mathis can stay on the field - even playing behind Allen, Payne, and Newton - his roster spot is not in jeopardy. But were he to suffer a serious complication in a third consecutive year, Adam Peters and Dan Quinn may decide it's time to cut their losses and go with other defensive tackles who can stay off the injured list.