Commanders drop draft bombshell with Johnny Newton at No. 36

The Commanders began Day 2 with a bang.
Johnny Newton
Johnny Newton / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Peters had the privilege of formally introducing Jayden Daniels to the media after selecting the quarterback at No. 2 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. After that, it was a case of back to work heading into Day 2.

This is arguably the most important period for Peters since becoming general manager. Finding the franchise signal-caller was the biggest piece of the puzzle above all else, but the new general manager must maximize the bounty of assets over the second and third rounds to give his substantial rebuild another major boost.

The Commanders got some extra wealth at this key stage of the draft by trading established figures within the locker room such as Chase Young, Sam Howell, and Montez Sweat. This was a short-term hit for potential long-term gain - providing Peters and his accomplished staff team hit on the majority of their Day 2 selections.

Easier said than done, but thanks to the run on offensive tackles and quarterbacks over the top 32 picks, several prospects who were projected by most to go in the first round were there for the taking. But it was still a nervous wait for Peters before Washington went on the clock at No. 36 overall.

Commanders draft Johnny Newton at No. 36 overall

The Commanders got a stroke of good fortune when Johnny Newton fell into their laps. This was too good of an opportunity for Peters to turn down, making the defensive lineman out of Illinois their second selection of his exciting new era.

Newton wasn't a great need, but he has the athletic attributes needed to start right away with a smooth transition despite the presence of Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. There's a lot to like about the prospect's athletic profile, which is reflected in outstanding college production throughout his time with the Fighting Illi. This experience will stand him in tremendous stead as he looks to make his presence felt immediately under new head coach Dan Quinn.

His aggressiveness, ability to wreak havoc, and get after the quarterback consistently through heavy hands and brute force are a sight to behold. This was a luxury pick by the Commanders, but one they can afford given how rich they are in capital.

This was just the start of what promised to be an eventful night for the Commanders. Peters had four other Day 2 picks to get through. Smith was a tremendous place to start, but there were many needs to fill and depth to improve before those in power could round off another night's work.

Newton was clearly their best player available. And based on how things unfolded last season, the Commanders are not in a position to be turning down talent like this.