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Bryan Manning

Breaking down new 7-round mock draft for the Commanders

The 2023 NFL draft is now less than four weeks away. NFL teams are busy finalizing their draft boards after attending pro days and hosting draft-eligible players on top-30 visits.

The Washington Commanders used free agency to fill holes at multiple positions. While the Commanders didn’t land a big-ticket free agent, they did re-sign star defensive tackle Daron Payne. Outside of that, Washington added three new offensive linemen, as well as quarterback Jacoby Brissett and help at linebacker and cornerback.

In a new seven-round mock draft from Jordan Reid of ESPN, the Commanders land several players at positions of need.

Here’s a breakdown of each of his seven picks for the Commanders.

Round 1, No. 16 overall: Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr.

Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr.

Here’s what Reid said about Porter:

Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste is a promising player, but with the Commanders potentially moving Kendall Fuller back inside to the slot, the need for another outside corner is a high priority. With an intriguing blend of size and quickness, Porter is an intriguing option. Patience will be needed with Porter as he works through his aggressive ways in his technique, but he has natural traits that make him one of the top corners in this class. Porter projects as an immediate starter in Washington.

Is Porter a scheme fit with Washington? That’s the question. Look no further than William Jackson III, who was a disastrous free-agent signing for the Commanders. Devon Witherspoon and Christian Gonzalez would be a smoother transition, but Porter has loads of talent. If Washington picked him, he’d likely start on the outside from day one.

Round 2, No. 47 overall: BYU OT Blake Freeland

Brigham Young Cougars offensive lineman Blake Freeland (71). Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Reid on Freeland:

Big and quick blockers like Freeland rarely make it out of the second round. He has been compared to Brian O’Neill and Sam Cosmi. Freeland’s consistency as a pass protector — he allowed just one sack in 12 starts last season — could be appealing for the Commanders, who allowed 48 sacks last season, which was seventh-worst in the NFL. He could challenge Charles Leno at left tackle, but he also could move over to right tackle.

The comparison to Cosmi is not going to excite Washington fans. After a promising rookie year, Cosmi took a step backward last season, leaving the Commanders to think he’d be a better guard. Like Cosmi, Freeland is big and athletic. He was a four-year starter at BYU, playing two seasons on the right side and two seasons on the left side.

Round 3, No. 97 overall: Tulane RB Tyjae Spears

Tulane Green Wave running back Tyjae Spears (22). Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Reid on Spears:

Spears would bring versatility to a backfield that lacks explosiveness. With Washington not having a running back reach over 1,000 rush yards last season, he could be a step up as he tallied 1,581 yards in this final season with the Green Wave.

Another third-round running back? That would be three in four years. However, the last two have turned out pretty good, Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson Jr. Gibson is entering the final season of his contract and the Commanders released J.D. McKissic due to a neck injury. Head coach Ron Rivera admitted Washington will add another back. Spears is an excellent player and would be an ideal complement to Robinson.

Round 4, No. 118 overall: Old Dominion TE Zack Kuntz

Old Dominion Monarchs tight end Zack Kuntz (80). Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Zack Kuntz began his career at Penn State. At 6-foot-7, 255 pounds, he has excellent size, and he’s also a terrific athlete. However, after only appearing in three games for the Nittany Lions, he transferred to ODU for his final two seasons. Kuntz had a breakout campaign in 2021 with 73 receptions and five touchdowns. Despite his size, Kuntz isn’t going to offer you a lot in the running game. As a fourth-round pick, he’d be a nice consolation prize for the Commanders in a deep tight end class.

Round 5, No. 150 overall: Indiana LB Cam Jones

Indiana’s Cam Jones (4) tackles Davion Ervin-Poindexter (2)

Washington isn’t going to spend a high pick on a linebacker. For one, it’s not an overly important position on its defense and this is a deep class. The Commanders know they can find a quality player later in the draft.

Enter Cam Jones. At 226 pounds, he isn’t the biggest linebacker, but he’s tough, physical, athletic and a three-time captain, showing he has the intangibles Rivera loves. Jones could prove to be a value in the fifth round.

Round 6, No. 193 overall: Georgia IOL Warren McClendon

Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Warren McClendon (70). Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If you need offensive line help and a Georgia Bulldog is on the board, it’s probably a solid pick. If Warren McClendon is on the board in the sixth round, he’d be a terrific selection. At 6-foot-4, 306 pounds, he has excellent size and long arms. He can play three positions. Despite his size, McClendon isn’t the most powerful guard. He’s a raw prospect but worth the chance here.

Round 6, No. 215 overall: Arizona State DT Nesta Jade Silvera

Arizona State Sun Devils defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera (4) . Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Commanders do not need defensive tackles. But at this point, when you see a talented player who can fit your scheme, he’s worth the pick. The 304-pound Silvera began his career at Miami as a top recruit before transferring to Arizona State. He’s not versatile, but he’s a powerful presence in the middle of the defense.

Round 7, No. 233 overall: San Jose State EDGE Viliami Fehoko

Quarterback Hank Bachmeier #19 of the Boise State Broncos is pressured by defensive end Viliami Fehoko #42 of the San Jose State Spartans. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

You know, at some point, the Commanders are going to pick an edge defender. Three of the top four defensive ends are free agents after the 2023 season. And Chase Young could be if Washington doesn’t pick up his fifth-year option.

Fehoko’s size [6-foot-4, 276] may have some wanting to move him inside. He’s a powerful, aggressive player who was a highly productive collegiate player.

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