Washington Redskins Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama – Round 2
Washington made a huge commitment to the defensive line in the form of four first-round picks in recent years. The Commanders already did a contract extension with Jonathan Allen, and they will probably look to retain their edge rushers of Montez Sweat and Chase Young. However, that could leave defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne the odd man out and not receiving an extension. The writing appears to be on the wall after the Commanders selected Mathis in the second round.

In the pass rush, Mathis flashes the ability to contribute in putting pressure on the quarterback. He is quick off the snap and plays with good pad level to gain leverage on offensive linemen. Helped by his active hands, Mathis has developed good technique and is smart about how he attacks guards. In both phases, Mathis has a steady motor and doesn’t quit on plays, driving hard through the whistle. While he has some physical limitations for the next level, Mathis could be a rotational contributor.

Against the run, Mathis is generally a solid, but not exceptional, defender. He uses his developed upper body to keep guards from shoving him off the ball, and he shows a nice ability to push off and pursue down the line to get in on tackles. Mathis will be a contributor, but not a dominator, as a run defender in the NFL.

After some developmental time, Mathis could replace Payne as an interior starter next to Jonathan Allen. Mathis is a well-rounded player who will benefit from Allen, Young and Sweat commanding double-team attention. Quickly in his career, Mathis could become a solid starter for Washington.

2021: Sam Cosmi, OT
2020: Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR
2019: Dwayne Haskins, QB
2018: Da’Ron Payne, DT
2017: Ryan Anderson, LB
2016: Josh Doctson, WR
2015: Preston Smith, DE
2014: Trent Murphy, DE
2013: Phillip Thomas, S

Most Likely To Bust

Brian Robinson, RB, Alabama – Round 3
This was a tough choice because I think Robinson could be a solid backup running back in the NFL. However, third-round picks are expected to start out their careers as backups and develop into starters. I think Robinson could fall short of that and end up only being a backup.

For a lot of his career at Alabama, Robinson was the backup to more talented backs, including Najee Harris, but as a senior, Robinson finally was the starter. At the Senior Bowl, Robinson was not impressive, looking looked like he lacked the speed to be a feature runner in the NFL. Robinson is a well-rounded back, but I think he will top out as a backup to Antonio Gibson and of the Commanders’ picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, Robinson is the one who is most likely to bust.

2021: Benjamin St-Juste, CB
2020: Antonio Gibson, RB
2019: Wes Martin, G
2018: Troy Apke, S
2017: Monte Nicholson, S
2016: Su’a Cravens, S
2015: Matt Jones, RB
2014: Spencer Long, G
2013: Chris Thompson, RB

Potential Boom Pick

Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State – Round 1
The Commanders are in an anxious situation. They need veteran journeyman Carson Wentz to play well to turn his career around, and if Wentz struggles, that could put the current regime under head coach Ron Rivera firmly on the hot seat. Washington needed receiver help to go with Terry McLaurin, and after trading down, the organization added a player who is a natural football player and playmaker.

There is a lot to like about Dotson (5-11, 178) for the NFL, as he is dynamic receiving weapon. Dotson is a dangerous threat to score or rip off long gains on any reception. With his speed off the line and his second gear, Dotson is fast through his route and will burst out of his breaks to consistently create separation. Dotson is also dangerous on double moves because his route running and suddenness allow him to get open downfield while challenging defenses vertically. He has superb hands and is a natural hands catcher who is very reliable at securing the ball.

Dotson shows an uncanny ability to make acrobatic, leaping grabs that are worthy of the highlight reel. With excellent body control, jumping ability, and secure hands, he makes some incredible catches to bail out inaccurate passes. While Dotson is not a big wideout, his ability to make leaping grabs makes him dangerous on 50-50 passes while also giving his quarterback a larger catch radius than most small receivers. Dotson has a gritty and competitive style and his feisty attitude energizes his team along with big-play ability.

Dotson should be a plug-and-play starter for the Commanders. With McLaurin drawing double-team attention, Dotson could take advantage of consistent single coverage. Of the players in the Washington 2022 draft class, he has the most potential to be a boom pick.

2021: Jamin Davis, LB
2020: Chase Young, DE
2019: Montez Sweat, DE
2018: Derrius Guice, RB
2017: Jonathan Allen, DT
2016: Kendall Fuller, CB
2015: Brandon Scherff, G
2014: Morgan Moses, OT
2013: David Amerson, CB

Future Depth Player

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina – Round 5
The Commanders landed an excellent value with Howell in the fifth round. While he has some physical limitations, he is a natural passer with accuracy and a gritty style of play. Howell didn’t blow away evaluators with size, athleticism, or arm strength, but he is a natural football player with passing instincts and feel. Howell is a confident signal-caller who can pick apart defenses and is very efficient at spreading the ball to his playmakers.

There is no doubt that Howell is an accurate passer. He places his ball well, putting it in position for his receiver to make catches while avoiding putting the pass in danger of being intercepted. Howell threw the ball on the money downfield over his three seasons at North Carolina and was accurate in all levels of the field. His accuracy is one of his best traits and provides some hope for him to become a starter as a pro.

In the pocket, Howell shows the ability to work off his primary read and does not panic when his first read is covered. Howell’s timing, anticipation, accuracy, and field vision are on point to be an effective pocket passer. Speeding up his reading of defenses and working through his progressions faster will help him in the NFL. For two out of three seasons, Howell was steady about making safe decisions, but his decision quality declined in 2021 because the Tar Heels lost a lot of talent around him to the 2021 NFL Draft. Howell made a few poor decisions in 2021 due to pressing and trying to do too much.

Howell does not have an elite cannon like Josh Allen, but Howell’s arm is plenty strong enough for the NFL. He can make all the throws and shows an excellent ability to locate his passes deep down the field. One could make the argument that Howell was the best deep-ball passer in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Howell is a good athlete with enough quickness to get yardage on the ground. With mobility and athleticism, Howell is able to buy time and escape sacks. He is a capable runner with the ability to dodge defenders, but he is more of a pocket quarterback who only runs when he has to and he is not an aggressive runner in the open field.

While Howell may not have the skill set to be a starter, he could be a solid backup quarterback for the Commanders.

2021: Dyami Brown, WR
2020: Saahdig Charles, OT
2019: Terry McLaurin, WR
2018: Tim Settle, DT
2017: Jeremy Sprinkle, TE
2016: Nate Sudfeld, QB
2015: Martrell Spaight, LB
2014: Lache Seastrunk, RB
2013: Brandon Jenkins, OLB

Walt’s 2022 NFL Draft Grades:

16. Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State – C Grade
Much like the Texans, the Redskins deserve some credit for picking up resources for trading down. Still, this is a bit of a reach. It’s not as bad as the Texans’ pick, but there was some speculation that Jahan Dotson could fall out of the first round. The Redskins should’ve just remained at No. 11 and picked the much better prospect. I like Dotson, but he’s a bit short to be taken so early.

47. Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama – C Grade
I’m not crazy about this pick, as it offers medium value and no filled need. The Redskins had to find defensive line depth at some point because they lost Matt Ioannidis, but they could’ve have addressed the position later. They have major problems in the secondary that weren’t filled. Phidarian Mathis has nice upside, and he’s yet another Alabama player, but this is just meh.

98. Brian Robinson, RB, Alabama – C+ Grade
Yet another Alabama player to the Redskins, albeit on the offensive side of the ball this time. I like Brian Robinson in this range, but I’m not sure why the Redskins picked another running back because they happen to be very deep at the position.

113. Percy Butler, S, La.-Lafayette – C+ Grade
The Redskins passed on safety in the first two days of the draft, and they were forced into reaching at the position because there isn’t great value available on Day 3. Percy Butler was a fifth-round prospect for me, so this isn’t an egregious reach, but it seems as though the Redskins could’ve handled their strategy differently.

145. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina – A+ Grade
One team we spoke to had Sam Howell as their second-ranked quarterback, so it’s insane that he fell so far. Carson Wentz may have trouble sticking around in Washington, so the Redskins needed someone to eventually compete with him. Howell’s height is an issue, but he’s a solid quarterback prospect otherwise.

149. Cole Turner, TE, Nevada – B- Grade
For a second, I thought the Redskins drafted Cole Strange, which would have been a good spot for him. Cole Turner is a tight end rather than a guard, and the Redskins needed one with some free agency departures. I think this is a bit too early for Turner, but it’s the fifth round, so that doesn’t mean as much in this area.

230. Chris Paul, G, Tulsa – B Grade
I mocked Chris Paul eight picks after this one, so I like the range for this prospect. Adding offensive line help makes sense as well, given that the Redskins currently don’t have a great blocking unit to shield Carson Wentz or Sam Howell.

240. Christian Holmes, CB, Oklahoma State – B Grade
I just missed on Christian Holmes, mocking him 239th instead of 240th! Darn it, my mock is ruined! At any rate, Christian Holmes is a tall corner, so there’s that. Cornerback is a huge need, so perhaps Holmes will have a chance to make the final roster.

2022 NFL Draft Team Grade: C-. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

Washington Redskins Season Preview

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 16

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12