Commanders deep dive: Is 2023 the worst draft class in franchise history?

It looks like another mixed bag on the draft front from the 2023 class...
Emmanuel Forbes
Emmanuel Forbes / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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Could the Washington Commanders 2023 NFL Draft picks end up being one of the worst classes in the franchise's illustrious history?

In case you’re the type who likes to just skim the first paragraph of a thousand articles, I’ll answer the title question right here. No - this is not the Washington Commanders' worst draft class. Not yet, at least. But there is still time.

The Commanders entered the 2023 offseason knowing they needed to address several key roster holes. Most analysts had them going after help at cornerback, offensive line, linebacker, and tight end in the draft.

Last year’s draft class was seen as especially deep at cornerback, and not so deep at offensive line or linebackers. Consequently, a lot of us thought the Commanders would go for a corner in the middle of the first round and then follow up with a lineman.

I would guess that 75 percent of the mock drafts I did myself, or saw from others, had either Christian Gonzalez or Joey Porter Jr. going first. A large number then had John Michael Schmitz or O’Cyrus Torrence being selected in Round No. 2.

Of course, as it turned out, we were all wrong in our projections.

Washington chose to address the offensive line and linebacker through free agency by signing three mid-tier players. None of them - Andrew Wylie, Nick Gates, and Cody Barton - have performed particularly well this season.

Gates has been benched. Barton is ineffective. Wylie, the best of the lot, has been woefully inconsistent.

Washington chose not to address the tight end situation, preferring to rely on aging veteran Logan Thomas, in-line blocker John Bates, and second-year receiving threat Cole Turner. Again, the results have been underwhelming.

You all know by this point who the Commanders added through the draft. Much to everyone’s surprise, they doubled up on secondary help in the first two rounds, then went back-to-back on offensive linemen in rounds 3-4. They finished up with a couple of late-round edge rushers and a running back. And, as has been a hallmark of drafting during Ron Rivera’s tenure as head coach, they had much greater success finding players in the later rounds, while seeming to miss on a lot of their early picks.

That is not a recipe for success. It is one for mediocrity. Under Rivera, the Commanders were the virtual textbook definition of mediocrity before running off the rails this season.

The 2023 draft class is certainly not to blame for that. But they sure haven’t contributed much of anything to changing anything for the better.