The Washington Commanders selected eight players in the 2022 NFL draft. Reviews were mixed about Washington’s draft class. Some felt the Commanders reached on specific players, in part because second-round pick Phidarian Mathis told reporters after he was drafted he expected to go in the “third or fourth round.”
Is that fair? As Washington general manager Martin Mayhew said, draft analysts aren’t in NFL facilities and do not have a sense of how teams view their own needs or how the league feels about specific players. He’s right.
Several analysts were high on Washington’s draft class. NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein said the Commanders had a “sneaky good draft” and gave them high marks.
Two NFL.com writers recently ranked all 32 draft classes from 1 to 32.
Where did Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr rank Washington’s class? No. 30, and Filice explains why:
It’s the one word you never want to hear as a fantasy drafter. The judgmental utterance that, when hurled in your direction, instantly elicits pangs of remorse and self-doubt. REACH!! In the wake of last week’s reality draft, Commanders brass have taken an R-word onslaught for a number of their picks. Adding fuel to the fire: Washington’s first two picks were both caught off guard by how highly they were taken. Dotson was watching the NBA playoffs and “couldn’t believe it at first” when he got the call from Ron Rivera. “We were kind of thinking later first, early second,” the No. 16 overall pick said, per NBC Sports Washington. Washington’s second-rounder was even more surprised: “Oh, man — I was thinking at least third, somewhere in the third or fourth round,” Mathis said, via The Athletic. “That was just feedback we were getting. So, it most definitely wasn’t expected early.” Well, alright then. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Commanders’ value assessment — coming from the draftees themselves! Washington GM Martin Mayhew has heard the REACH chorus, and he’s not having it: “We understand our needs and what we need as a football team much better than people on the outside looking in.” One value pick we can all agree on: Howell at No. 144. Heading into the 2021 college season, the North Carolina quarterback was being discussed as a potential top-10 pick. But without the services of Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome — all of whom went in the 2021 NFL Draft — Howell and the Heels didn’t enjoy the kind of season many predicted. That said, Howell was still the only FBS quarterback to eclipse 3,000 yards passing and 800 yards rushing in 2021. For a franchise that still has serious questions at the game’s most important position, taking a fifth-round stab on a 21-year-old with 37 college starts under his belt is smart drafting.
They are using Jahan Dotson’s words and Mathis’ words about being surprised where they were selected as a major reason why the class was ranked this low. That makes sense. But, some reports suggest one NFL team was prepared to take Mathis shortly after Washington and the Commanders weren’t on the clock again until pick No. 98. As for Dotson, Washington had him as one of its top four wideouts in the draft, moved back five positions, added two mid-round picks and still landed him.
How people grade or rank draft classes shortly after the draft is a meaningless exercise. However, it is fun. We won’t know how this class truly stacks up until three years from now. If the Commanders land multiple starters or contributors from this class, that is a win.