Grading Commanders' last six first-round picks ahead of 2024 NFL Draft

It's been a mixed bag...
Jamin Davis
Jamin Davis / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Montez Sweat

  • Defensive End | Mississippi State Bulldogs
  • No. 26 overall | 2019 NFL Draft

Dwayne Haskins wasn't the only first-round pick made by the Washington Commanders during the 2019 NFL Draft. Those in power also secured the services of defensive end Montez Sweat, who had far more success than the quarterback despite being taken 11 spots later.

Sweat quickly emerged as a dependable player capable of impacting proceedings on a three-down basis. Although not the most explosive edge rusher, the former Mississippi State star did a tremendous job of using leverage to his advantage through sound technique and violent hands capable of making things extremely uncomfortable for opposing offensive linemen. With 16 sacks over his first two seasons, the Commanders had a highly productive performer on their hands.

Even though Sweat never reached double-digit sacks, he was consistent and durable. There was also plenty to like about his evolution into a locker room leader - something that became a source of comfort as everything around Ron Rivera crumbled.

As another campaign spiraled out of control in 2023, the Commanders had a big decision to make regarding Sweat. His contract was up for renewal this spring, so Josh Harris' took his first major decision as owner, trading the player to the Chicago Bears for a high-end second-rounder at No. 40 overall.

Sweat hit the ground running in Chicago, becoming the leading sack-getter for both the Bears and Commanders last season with 12.5 in total. Had things been different, Washington might have allocated a hefty financial commitment in his direction. However, it wasn't something in their immediate train of thought as they geared up for a substantial rebuild under general manager Adam Peters.

Grade: B+

Even though Sweat didn't make it to his second contract in the nation's capital, that should not detract from what an outstanding player he became. Unfortunately, someone else will reap the rewards as the Commanders bank on a new group of edge rushers to replicate his production.