The Washington Commanders got a tailormade replacement for recently traded defensive end Chase Young in Pro Football Focus' 2024 mock draft.
When the Washington Commanders decided to trade Chase Young and Montez Sweat before the deadline, it represented a sign that planning for the future was well underway. The franchise now has an abundance of draft picks and plenty of salary-cap space to make the necessary improvements in pursuit of progression in 2024 - perhaps even becoming a more attractive head coaching destination if Josh Harris' ownership group opts to move on from Ron Rivera.
The Commanders got two Day 2 selections for their starting defensive end tandem. However, it's turned an area of strength into one of real weakness - something that has to be rectified as a matter of extreme urgency when the 2024 offseason rolls around.
Finding productive pass-rushers in free agency isn't normally a cheap exercise. Therefore, going down the draft route represents a cheaper option with better long-term prospects - providing the Commanders hit on their player of choice.
Commanders select Chop Robinson in PFF's mock draft
This was a sentiment echoed by Trevor Sikkema from Pro Football Focus in his latest mock draft. Instead of getting a quarterback or a quality offensive lineman at No. 13 overall, the writer went with Penn State edge rusher Chop Robinson as a physical replacement for the recently departed Young.
"All of a sudden, the Commanders have a big need at pass-rusher after shipping off both Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Robinson is going to “wow” at the NFL Combine with his explosiveness scores, but he hasn’t mastered how to turn that into consistent pass-rush production. He takes over in some games, but there are too many outings where he goes quiet. Over the past two years, Robinson has five games with a 30%-plus pass-rush win rate and five with a sub-11% clip. He is still a work in progress, in that regard, but his talent level is very high."- Trevor Sikkema, Pro Football Focus
This is a high-risk move if the Commanders go down this route. However, the reward would be substantial if Robinson managed to put everything together.
Robinson is explosive and has the look of the sort of athletic freak normally associated with the Nittany Lions. But it's also worth remembering that for every Micah Parsons emanating from the program, others don't quite meet expectations such as Yetur Gross-Matos.
If the Commanders don't go with a quarterback, then one could make a strong case for the primary focus becoming a need to surround Sam Howell with everything he needs to be successful. This starts with the offensive line, so finding a premium edge protector with their first-round pick must be considered.
It's not the sexiest move, but it's an absolute necessity. After that, the Commanders can look for a pass-rusher with one of their second-round selections.
Looking at Robinson's full body of work in college, it seems like too big of a risk at No. 13 overall if this scenario presents itself. His production doesn't come anywhere close to what Parsons attained, but teams always bet on what a player might become rather than what he's done previously.
Nothing can be ruled out at this stage. We have no clue what Washington's needs will be after free agency and no clue as to who'll be making these tough football personnel decisions if Harris' ownership group decides to clean house.
Robinson will be on the shortlist for further examination with almost every team. That demand alone during the pre-draft assessment stage indicates he could be a first-rounder when it's all said and done.
Will that be to the Commanders? It's way too early to tell…