Commanders address critical need in ESPN's 2024 NFL mock draft

This would be extremely welcome...
Joe Alt
Joe Alt / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of taking a quarterback at No. 6 overall, the Washington Commanders addressed another critical need in ESPN's recent 2024 mock draft.

We are a long way from the 2024 NFL Draft and there is a lot of football left. The Washington Commanders' fortunes are hanging in the balance after losing four of their last five, which could get even worse this Sunday when the in-form Philadelphia Eagles come to town.

Unless there is a significant turnaround over the next 10 games, it's not hard to envisage a scenario where Josh Harris' ownership group hits the reset button. Something that fans are already clamoring for after Ron Rivera's relatively unsuccessful almost four-year stint at the helm.

If there is a new head coach and general manager, everything is on the table next spring. The Commanders are currently projected to have $91.54 million in available salary-cap space with 40 players currently under contract, so they might finally become an attractive free-agent destination now that Dan Snyder is out of the picture.

Commanders draft Joe Alt in ESPN's 2024 mock

As it stands right now, the Commanders also have seven selections to call upon during the draft. While Jordan Reid of ESPN acknowledged that a new regime would seriously consider taking a quarterback from their projected spot at No. 6 overall, the analyst went with Notre Dame's formidable left tackle Joe Alt in his latest mock draft with Caleb Williams and Drake Maye already off the board.

"The Commanders are on pace to set a new NFL record for sacks given up after they have surrendered 40 through seven games. Offensive tackle is a clear need, and Alt would solve a lot of their problems. A towering presence at 6-foot-8 and 315 pounds, he has shown substantial growth in all areas of his game this season. Alt has allowed only three pressures and one sack in 236 pass-blocking snaps this season, and he projects as a high-end starter right away.

Washington might also think about QB here with the uneven play from Sam Howell, but the QB3 race is hard to sort out at the moment. If Colorado's Shedeur Sanders enters the draft, he could be the pick here. If Texas' Quinn Ewers, Michigan's J.J. McCarthy or Washington's Michael Penix Jr. elevate their play over the rest of the season, they could be in the mix, too. But for now, let's give the Commanders some protection."

Jordan Reid, ESPN

Howell's production has been solid overall behind a torrid offensive line. No matter who's under center, nothing will improve unless the Commanders prioritize the protection - something Rivera has been criticized for failing to accomplish since taking the reins.

Alt is a genuine difference-maker with Day 1 starting potential. He has NFL size and length, putting together some outstanding performances for the Fighting Irish this season and improving the technical aspect of his pass protection immensely.

There are so many unknowns surrounding the Commanders, that it's hard to know what they'll do or who'll be making the choices. But one thing that cannot be dismissed is a desperate need to form a long-term plan for the offensive line

Nobody would complain too much if Alt or another premium edge protector was the choice. Rivera is paying dearly for his lack of attention to this critical area, with Howell on course to smash the all-time record for sacks in a single season if the same trend continues.

If that happens and the Commanders' record reflects as much, it's unlikely Rivera will get another shot.