How Commanders recent first-round disasters stack up around the NFL

Is there a worse team when it comes to finding first-round talent?
Emmanuel Forbes
Emmanuel Forbes / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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How do the Washington Commanders recent first-round draft disasters compare to other organizations around the league?

The Washington Commanders' loss to the New York Jets on Sunday, coupled with the New England Patriots' upset of the Denver Broncos, leaves them with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. With remaining games against two of the league’s best teams, that is unlikely to change.

Barring trades, Washington will have its highest draft pick since 2012, when they traded up to select Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 pick. Because the Commanders have a lot of picks in the first three rounds, that improved draft position will ripple through the entire selection process, offering plenty of flexibility.

We will all have plenty of opinions on who that first-round pick should be. I can virtually guarantee that in the weeks and months ahead I will change my mind a half dozen times on which quarterback to take. Marvin Harrison Jr. would be hard to resist if he is available. Trading back a few picks for one of the two premier offensive tackles is enticing. Plenty of time for all that conversation.

Today, I’m here to make one obvious point. Whatever direction the Commanders choose, they have to get it right. You could easily make the case that no team in the entire NFL has done a poorer job of getting value out of their first-round picks over the last five years.

Washington has had six first-round draft picks during that time. Three of them - Dwayne Haskins, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young - are no longer with the team. The Commanders have a second and a third-round pick in the upcoming draft to show for those three recent first-rounders. All three were released or traded before their rookie deals were over. That is terrible value.

The three remaining recent first-rounders - Jamin Davis, Jahan Dotson, and Emmanuel Forbes - have not performed anywhere near the level you would expect. The linebacker is the most productive, and also the oldest. Though a change in coaches could benefit him, I think we are seeing a largely finished product at this point. He is a fair NFL second-level defender.

Dotson and Forbes have been very disappointing in 2023. They are still young and perhaps that will change. But as we sit here today, Washington is getting virtually nothing from a lot of high draft capital.

Are there any other teams that have mismanaged their first-round draft picks as badly as the Commanders in the last five years? Let’s take a quick look, shall we?