Disturbing draft re-grade confirms Ron Rivera botched final chance

It was another nail in his proverbial coffin...

Ron Rivera
Ron Rivera / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

A disturbing 2023 NFL Draft re-grade confirms that former Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera blew his final chance.

The Washington Commanders are moving forward toward what will hopefully become an exciting new era. Adam Peters and other recent staffing recruits had a huge mess to clean up, which was a far cry from how pleased Ron Rivera appeared with his supposed established culture and roster construction during his four seasons at the helm.

One of the biggest failings during the Rivera years centered on the draft. There were a few hits, but his inability to successfully bring the right college recruits into the organization became an ongoing frustration. Giving him another shot when the Commanders had so many assets at their disposal in 2024 was simply not an option.

Rivera had one final opportunity to improve his chances of an extended stay during the 2023 draft. Unfortunately for the respected figure, his picks reeked of panic with very few making any sort of instant impression.

Commanders 2023 draft re-grade was poor as expected

This was reflected in Diante Lee from The Athletic's draft re-grade. The writer gave Washington a D- for the group chosen by Rivera, which is thanks in no small part to their two high-end picks - Emmanuel Forbes and Quan Martin - taking time to adjust at differing stages of the campaign.

"Emmanuel Forbes (No. 16) had some rough moments, to the point that he was benched during the 2023 season. Safety Quan Martin (No. 47) played in the slot by necessity as a rookie, but it’s not clear if that’s the best spot for him in Dan Quinn’s defense. After trading away two starting edge rushers last year, this team cannot afford to have its early picks sitting on the bench."

Diante Lee, The Athletic

Forbes wasn't ready for the significant responsibilities Rivera put on the cornerback immediately. The Commanders were more patient with Martin, who flashed potential as a big nickel/safety hybrid over the second half of 2023.

It's not just the first two selections that caused concern. Take a look at the snap counts on offense or defense for each Commanders draft pick, according to Pro Football Reference:

  • Emmanuel Forbes (CB): 50 percent of snaps
  • Quan Martin (DB): 33%
  • Ricky Stromberg (OL): 9%
  • Braeden Daniels (OL): 0% (injured reserve)
  • K.J. Henry (DE): 41%
  • Chris Rodriguez Jr. (RB): 11%
  • Andre Jones Jr. (RB): 18%

It just wasn't good enough, especially considering the urgent need for Rivera to find difference-makers on the hottest seat in football. Even if these players do end up making a long-term contribution, he won't be around to reap the rewards after being fired shortly after the 2023 campaign concluded.

There is no point looking too far back at previous errors. Peters has a much better track record when it comes to successfully identifying college talent at all stages of the draft. He's also armed with a bounty of selections - six in the top 100 and nine in total - to give Washington's rebuild another substantial boost.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed. If the Commanders whiff on their quarterback choice at No. 2 overall, Peters will find himself on the back foot in Year 1 as general manager. However, striking gold will light the blue touch paper en route to potential contention.

High stakes, indeed.