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Commanders 2024 mock draft battles | Weighing the options at No. 2 overall

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye is shown in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia State Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)
North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye is shown in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia State Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)

The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.

The Washington Commanders are beginning their slow, deliberate march towards deciding on what to do with their nine draft picks when the NFL Draft starts in April, and until they're finally on clock, there's going to some wild speculation and hundreds of mock drafts from people throwing their opinions into the mix.

So, we at thought it would be a good idea for us to jump in on the fun.

From now until the week of the draft, members of our content production studio are going to release competing mock drafts laying out not only who we believe the Commanders will take at No. 2 overall, but also the team's entire draft haul. The mock drafts will be created using Pro Football Focus' mock draft simulator.

Here are the rules: the mock drafts will be conducted by two teams. On one side will be Commanders analyst Fred Smoot and Senior Writer Zach Selby, and on the other will be Commanders analyst Logan Paulsen and Technical Officer for Media Production "Just A Guy" Jason Johnson, who also co-hosts with Paulsen on the team's "Ticket to the Draft" podcast.

As we get closer to the draft, each mock draft will be influenced by different scenarios, such as trading up, trading back or addressing certain needs in free agency. For now, however, we're going focus on the Commanders' first three picks -- Nos. 2, 36 and 40 -- with no other external factors to influence decisions.

Fans can hear analysis from Selby, Smoot, Paulsen and Johnson as well as vote on which mock draft they think is best on the "Ticket to the Draft" podcast, which releases every Friday. Now, let's dive into the picks.

Smoot and Selby

No. 2 overall: Drake Maye, QB, UNC

Analysis: The tape from 2023 might not be as clean as last season, but Maye has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks in college football since he became the Tar Heels' starter. No one has more big time throws than Maye since 2022 (he led college football season with 45 and came in second with 34 in 2023), and he was the third-best passer on throw of at least 20 yards. He may not be as athletic as Jayden Daniels, but his mechanics are solid, his eyes are always looking downfield, and he knows how to win from the pocket.

No. 36 overall: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Analysis: Guyton is quickly rising people's boards after a strong week at the Senior Bowl, so he might not be available by the time Washington picks on Day 2. In this scenario, though, it's hard to pass up a player with his traits. What he lacks in technique, he makes up for it with prototypical size -- 6-foot-7 and 328 pounds with 34-inch arms -- and rare athleticism for his position as a former tight end and running back. What's encouraging is that his technique got better during Senior Bowl practices. His hands were quicker, he kept his head back and supplied a strong punch during one-on-one pass rush drills. There's some stuff to work on, but Guyton could develop into a special player.

No. 40 overall: Ja'Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas

Analysis: An experienced player for the Longhorns with 27 starts in 39 games, Sanders is a top 10 tight end in program history, ranking first in career receptions (99), second in receiving yards (1,295) and sixth in receiving touchdowns (7). He was third among all tight ends with 682 yards and fourth in yards after the catch in 2023. He needs to grow as a run-blocker, but he could be a dynamic weapon in the middle of the field for a young quarterback to rely upon in his rookie year.

PFF grade: A

Paulsen and Johnson

No. 2 overall: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Analysis: Daniels was one of the most exciting players to watch in college football last year. He took a drastic step up in performance, completing 72.3% of his passes for 3,812 yards with 40 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Aside from being an impressive passer, he's also an explosive runner with 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was the best passer on throws of 20-plus yards with 27 big time throws compared to just one turnover worthy play. He was fifth under pressure and threw 20 touchdowns when blitzed. You're just going off one year of film with Daniels, but he's so impressive that he's hard to pass up.

No. 36 overall: Graham Barton, OT, Duke

Analysis: There's a lot to like about Barton, whether it's his quickness, punch or footwork, but perhaps his best attribute is his ability to finish blocks. Barton (6-foot-4, 315) stays locked on and engaged with defenders until the whistle blows, and they often end up on the ground. He knows how to climb up into the second level while avoiding traffic and creates lanes for his running backs. He also has experience playing center, so if he does need to move inside, it should be a seamless transition for him.

No. 40 overall: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

Analysis: There's nothing flashy about Robinson's stats in 2023, as he only recorded 15 tackles and four sacks, but his physical traits are going to make scouts fall in love with him. At 6-foot-3 and weighing 245 pounds, Robinson is explosives, knows how to use his hands and has a high motor on just about every play. It's always difficult to predict combine results, but the expectation is that Robinson will be one of the clear standouts in Indianapolis. With the right development, he could turn into an elite pass-rusher.

PFF grade: B+

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