Commanders move forward with Sam Howell in Pro Football Network mock

The possibilities are endless during the 2024 NFL Draft.

Olu Fashanu
Olu Fashanu / Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK
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The Washington Commanders ignored the obvious quarterback temptation in Pro Football Network's latest 2024 NFL mock draft.

Although the Washington Commanders still have three more games to get through, fans have already set their sights on the offseason. One that is coming with great change as Josh Harris' ownership gears up to stamp a heavy mark on the franchise they bought for $6.05 billion.

The foundations have been laid in recent weeks. Washington could boast around $100 million to spend in free agency. They also have a wealth of draft assets to call upon following their decision to trade Montez Sweat and Chase Young before the deadline.

Commanders ignore QB temptation in PFN's mock draft

In A.J. Schulte from Pro Football Network's latest mock draft, he lent further weight to the claims Washington must focus their attention on the offensive line in Round No. 1. Specifically, taking the opportunity to completely change their blindside fortunes by taking Penn State left tackle Olu Fashanu.

"The Washington Commanders have gotten enough out of Sam Howell to afford him another year as the starter. If they want to really see what they have in him, they have to protect him better. Olu Fashanu, one of the best pass-protecting tackles in recent memory, could step right in at left tackle and lock that role down for years."

A.J. Schulte, Pro Football Network

This could change if the Commanders find themselves with a top-three selection to call upon. Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Marvin Harrison Jr. might enter the discussion, but ignoring a generational edge presence such as Fashanu could come back to haunt them.

Picking the formidable offensive tackle would also indicate their confidence in quarterback Sam Howell. That's murkier than ever after his Week 15 benching and recent regression. But Schulte's second-round selections of cornerback Kamari Lassiter and edge rusher Chris Braswell hint it's still a possibility.

"Washington has been the worst passing defense in the NFL this year, and their corner room has been the biggest culprit. To make matters worse, Kendall Fuller is a pending free agent in the offseason. They should invest early and often into that unit. Since the Commanders traded away Chase Young and Montez Sweat, their edge rushers have combined for just 27 pressures and two sacks. It’s been part of the reason why their passing defense has been as awful as it has been. Braswell is a high-motor, powerful pass rusher who could provide a jolt to this pass rush."

A.J. Schulte, Pro Football Network

Not taking a quarterback in the opening two rounds ensures the new coaching staff is willing to see what Howell might be able to accomplish with a better-supporting cast. There's just no telling for sure whether that'll be the plan, but it's on the list of possibilities.

If the incoming appointments this offseason want to build a legitimate contender, it all starts in the trenches. Fashanu and Braswell fill immediate needs. Lassiter is more of a risk, but there is enough upside to suggest the Georgia prospect can become a productive coverage presence immediately with a smooth transition.

Speculation is the name of the game right now. It's an exciting time for every Commanders fan. That doesn't detract from how vital the next few months are for sustainable growth into one of the league's powerhouses once again.

Spending wisely in free agency and hitting on their draft picks is a good place to start. Something that should at least raise the level of positivity that brighter days are ahead.

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