8 NFL Draft picks the Washington Commanders gave up on too soon

What might have been...
Champ Bailey
Champ Bailey / Scott Cunningham/GettyImages
5 of 6

Tom Compton

  • Offensive Tackle | 2012 NFL Draft

From Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey to the utterly unheralded Tom Compton.

Compton is on this list for a very specific reason. The now-Washington Commanders didn’t merely give up on stars too early. They also gave up on marginal players who could have filled a need at a key moment if they had the foresight to keep them around.

The offensive tackle was drafted in the sixth round out of South Dakota. He was supposed to provide some depth at both tackle and guard. He did that in 2014 when starting right tackle Tyler Polumbus struggled.

Compton started nine games for the franchise that year. As Morgan Moses developed the following season, Washington saw no reason to hold onto the player, and they let him leave via free agency without a fight.

It seemed inconsequential at the time. Moses was mostly solid for Washington while Compton bounced around the league. Then, in 2021, with the Commanders trying to repeat their unlikely 2020 run to the NFC East title, they struggled to find a right tackle.

Rookie Sam Cosmi battled injuries. Veteran Cornelius Lucas, who had manned the left tackle spot in 2020, was not as good on the right side. Saahdiq Charles couldn’t play outside. Washington never found consistency at right tackle. Meanwhile, when starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey tore his quad for the San Francisco 49ers midway through the season, Compton took over the spot and played the best football of his career.

He started the Niners’ final seven regular season games and all three of the playoff games in a year that saw them just miss going to the Super Bowl. Pro Football Focus graded Compton as one of the top five tackles in the entire league.

Alas, Compton would not build on that 2021 success, but it remains instructive that the Commanders, who have struggled mightily to develop their home-grown offensive tackles, had a decent one in-house and simply let him walk.