5 starters Commanders GM Adam Peters must find in the 2024 NFL Draft

The pressure is on...
Adam Peters
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Commanders must find a cornerback

This one is painful. Last year was a very strong one for cornerbacks in the draft. The Washington Commanders took one - Emmanuel Forbes - with the No. 16 pick. He did not perform well as a rookie.

Another recent high draft pick - Benjamin St-Juste - also struggled. With the free agency departure of Kendall Fuller, the team's best corner last year, they are desperately short of reliable starters.

Second-round pick Quan Martin’s future could be at safety, so the Commanders need at least one more player who can either replace Forbes or St-Juste should they struggle, or at the very least develop into a reliable slot corner. The team currently has a lot of bodies - holdovers like Christian Holmes and Tariq Castro-Fields - along with three newly signed veteran free agents. None of them inspire much confidence should they be asked to play major reps.

Defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. has worked miracles with defensive backs in his last few stops. Hopefully, he can do the same with Forbes and St-Juste, but that doesn’t appear to be the best bet right now.

It would not be surprising to see Washington invest the No. 40 overall pick in a high-end prospect like Iowa State’s T.J. Tampa or Michigan’s tough Mike Sainristill.

Commanders must find a kick returner

NFL teams have been able to ignore the kickoff return position for several seasons now. However, with the recently adopted rules governing the kickoff, it will likely make a pronounced reappearance this season.

The Commanders used Jamison Crowder as its punt returner in 2023. He will provide a steady, unspectacular presence on the punt team should he be tasked with the job again.

Crowder does not return kickoffs. The fact is, not many veterans in the NFL do because the play has been virtually legislated out of the NFL game. It still exists at the college level, and the Commanders should be looking for someone who can add a dynamic threat to the squad.

Practice squad player Kazmeir Allen might get a look here. But there will be players in the draft who could immediately improve the kickoff return game while being developed to take on a bigger role on offense in the coming years.

Clemson running back Will Shipley may be the most intriguing prospect who could be available on Day 3 of the draft. Virginia wide receiver Malik Washington could also play in the slot on offense while providing a threat as a kickoff returner.

Adam Peters is not going to pass on a talented edge rusher or tight end if one is available early in the draft. He will be looking to add more than just one offensive lineman as well. But he goes into this draft knowing he has reasonable options already in place at those other positions.

These five positions don’t have to be the first five he addresses. That said, Peters does have to find quality, starting-caliber prospects for these roles regardless of when he selects them.