In looking at the remainder of the Washington Commanders’ 2023 schedule, it’s difficult to see many wins remaining. Currently 4-8, Washington has the Dolphins, Rams, Jets, 49ers and Cowboys on the schedule.
Sure, the Rams and Jets aren’t very good, but New York has an excellent defense, while the Rams will be playing at home, which means a West Coast trip for the Commanders.
You could make the case Washington is playing worse than anyone at the current moment.
There will be lots of changes for the Commanders next season. Washington already fired defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and secondary coach Brent Vieselmeyer. At the end of the season, new owner Josh Harris will likely clean house.
Those changes will be on the roster, too. Washington traded edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat ahead of the NFL trade deadline. Outside of the anomaly against the Giants in Week 11, the Commanders have struggled to sack opposing quarterbacks.
That means Washington will look to add pass-rush help in 2024. Will that come via free agency or the 2024 NFL draft? The Commanders will have five picks in the first three rounds, and they’ll almost certainly be selecting in the top 10, perhaps higher.
Washington currently holds the No. 7 overall pick if the draft were held today. In a new mock draft from Curt Popejoy of Draft Wire, he has the Commanders finding pass-rush help in UCLA edge Laiatu Latu.
The Commanders could be in dire need of pass rushers next season and Latu is one of the best.
Latu is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds with elite production. As a junior in 2022, Latu was an All-Pac-12 selection with 10.5 sacks. He’s been even better in 2023, with 13 sacks.
Here’s what ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid thinks of Latu:
UCLA EDGE/OLB Laiatu Latu is the most gifted pass rusher in the country. So many moves in his bag already. Even when he doesn’t get home, QBs feel his presence off of the edge.
Game wrecker as a 3-4 standup OLB.
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) November 19, 2023
Washington could use a game-wrecker. Sweat was a reliable player for four-plus seasons but could never be called a game-wrecker. Same for Young.
However, there are concerns with Latu. He began his career at Washington in 2019, and he was medically retired due to a neck injury. He transferred to UCLA before 2022 and was cleared. So that doesn’t appear to be a concern, but NFL teams will have him under the microscope ahead of the draft.
Selecting another defensive lineman will not excite Washington fans. It’s tough to predict what the Commanders will do until we see who the new general manager and coach are in January.