The Washington Commanders first-round pick will have fans in anticipation for the next few months. The team has the 11th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and, with a good off-season, could set themselves up to make the playoffs next season. With a few prominent areas of improvement and only six picks in this year’s draft, the Commanders will have their work cut out for them.
Washington Commanders First Round Pick: Who Will They Take?
The Washington Commanders will head into April 28th with a plan of how they want to improve over the days that follow. The team will want to improve from a 7-10 record and a third-place finish in their division. Washington has made it known they plan on upgrading the quarterback position, and don’t be surprised if they decide to do that with their first-round pick if they fail to during free agency. The team will also likely upgrade their secondary on defense this off-season.
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a long-limbed corner that excels at jumping routes and breaking up passes. At 6’3″, 200 pounds, Gardner can use his lengthy frame to throw wide receivers off their routes in press coverage. As a freshman, he had two pick-sixes for the University of Cincinnati. While Gardner did have plenty of holding and pass interference penalties in his college career, he still is somebody that could come in and start immediately on the Washington defense.
With the addition of Gardner, Washington would be able to move Kendall Fuller back to the slot. Fuller is one of the best slot corners in the NFL, and with Washington not needing him on the outside, it immediately significantly improves a secondary that struggled last season. Gardner would likely be paired with William Jackson III on the outside with the hopes of forming an elite duo to shut down opposing offenses passing games.
Derek Stingley Jr., Cornerback, LSU
Derek Stingley Jr. has impressive ball skills and excels at bringing down the 50/50 balls. Stingley burst onto the scene as a true freshman for LSU in 2019, helping lead that defense to a CFP National Championship. He had six interceptions that season. But, since then, he hasn’t managed a single pick. At one point, he was considered a top-five pick. However, Stingley struggled to stay on the field the last two seasons. He suffered leg and foot injuries that have caused him to play in just ten games over that span. While healthy, Stingley is the best corner in the draft with his elite playmaking ability.
Washington would be getting a corner that he could rely on to lockdown wide receivers for years to come with this selection if he stays healthy. Stingley would be tough to pass on if he is still available at 11. Moving Fuller to the slot this off-season will be essential to elevating the Washington defense to the next level. Stingley would be a great, young corner that could help that move happen, along with the possibility of being a massive difference-maker for years to come in Washington.
Treylon Burks, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
In a draft loaded with wide receiver talent, Treylon Burks might be the best of them all. At 6’2″, 225 pounds, he has excellent size and uses his body to his advantage. Burks had 1,104 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns for the Arkansas Razorbacks this past season. While he did have games where he was kept quiet, he did have six games of over 100 yards. Burks also had a 179 yard, two-touchdown performance against Alabama, a team that made the National Championship.
Besides Terry McLaurin, Washington struggled at the wide receiver position, and adding Burks will give whoever is at quarterback for Washington a second option. The duo won’t allow opposing defenses to key in on one guy and open up a passing game that struggled last season. With McLaurin and Burks on the outside and Curtis Samuel in the slot, the Washington pass game would be headed in the right direction.
Kenny Pickett, Wuarterack, Pitt
In a draft with not a lot of quarterback depth and no clear-cut best, Kenny Pickett has a good arm and will extend plays with his legs when he needs to. He improved tremendously heading into his senior season at Pitt, throwing for 42 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Going into this past season, nobody would have expected him to be a first-round pick, let alone the first quarterback taken off the board.
Washington has voiced that they are making upgrading the quarterback position their number one priority this off-season. Pickett would be joining an offense that includes a run game that could take pressure off him and McLaurin as his number one receiver. Pickett will more than likely be the Week 1 starter for Washington and will look to gain experience and learn everything he can his rookie season. Washington will have to hold off on putting too much pressure on the young quarterback, which is very difficult to do in the league these days.
Who Will Be the Washington Commanders First Round Pick?
The Washington Commanders first-round pick will show if the team will rely on their defense to win games or want their offense to improve a passing game that needs work. Don’t be surprised if the team goes defense in the first round and Washington pushes close to having an elite defense. A defensive line that underperformed last year will benefit from an improved secondary, giving them more time to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
Going the offensive route in the first round will improve a passing offense that was one of the worst in the leagues last season and might set the team up to have an elite offense in a few years. Washington already has a good offensive line and lacks the skill players to back that up.
The Washington Commanders will do their homework on any prospect they feel could help them. A lot can change between now and the draft. We have free agency, which could alter the teams’ positions of need significantly, and you never know when a trade will happen. Before we know it, fans will be hearing Washington put on the clock.