Commanders 3-round 2024 NFL mock draft: Problem-solving edition

The Commanders have a few problems to solve during the 2024 NFL Draft.
Marshawn Kneeland
Marshawn Kneeland / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
6 of 7

Commanders draft D.J. James

  • Cornerback | Auburn Tigers
  • Round No. 3 | No. 78 overall 

When you look at the Washington Commanders' current depth chart, the cornerback room offers some adequate starters such as Benjamin St-Juste and Michael Davis. I don’t expect Quan Martin to be the starting nickel next season given the former second-round selection out of Illinois could take over the free safety spot.

The Commanders also have Emmanuel Forbes. His production and consistency left a lot to be desired as a rookie. However, it seems likely that the coaching staff will give the former first-rounder out of Mississippi State another opportunity to firmly establish himself under Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr. - two renowned defensive back talent developers.

I like the idea of D.J. James at nickel. He has a small frame that will limit his ability to play on the perimeter consistently, so it would make sense to play him inside where he is not responsible for the deep thirds and an entire half of the field. Allowing the Auburn standout to work in man coverage and drop into the curl/flats would seem ideal.

James is a redshirt senior and participated in the Senior Bowl. He has shown some promise during his time in college. He provides high-level explosiveness and twitch that already fits the bill for him to play nickel.

On top of that, James has the processing skills to succeed in that spot. He plays bigger than his 5-foot-11, 170-pound frame suggests. He’s competitive in run support and isn’t afraid to get dirty at the line of scrimmage. Even with his size concerns, this is a defensive back I could see both Adam Peters and Quinn falling in love with.

Considering the Commanders let Kendall Fuller walk for the Miami Dolphins in free agency, there won't be a better chance to enhance their youth movement at the cornerback position.