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DMV Spotlight | Local prospects set to make splashes in 2024 Draft

Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (13) runs the ball during an NCAA college football game against Rice in Los Angeles, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (13) runs the ball during an NCAA college football game against Rice in Los Angeles, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The DMV has been known as a hotbed for NFL talent over the years, and the Washington Commanders have a history of taking advantage of it.

From drafting Jonathan Allen (Stone Bridge) and Chase Young (DeMatha) in the first round to adding Logan Thomas (Brookville) and Kendall Fuller (Good Counsel) in free agency four years ago, Washington has turned to its own backyard to construct its roster.

This year's draft class is particularly flush with homegrown prospects, so in anticipation for the 2024 NFL Draft, which kicks off April 25, is examining some of the best local prospects. Here are five players who could be in play for the Burgundy & Gold in a couple of weeks.

Caleb Williams, QB, USC

It's a foregone conclusion that Caleb Williams (Gonzaga College High School) will be taken by the Chicago Bears with the No. 1 overall pick, but it wouldn't be a complete list of DMV prospects if we left him out.

Though Williams' tape from 2023 is not as strong as it was in previous years, he's still considered the best prospect on the board because of his footwork, improvisation and ability to deliver big time throws.

Williams' journey began in Washington, D.C., where he was a two-time All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference selection, accounting for 37 touchdowns as a junior. Despite not playing in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was still considered the No. 1 high school player in the country, enrolling at Oklahoma before transferring to USC.

Assuming it's his name that's called to start the NFL Draft, it'll be another big step in what will hopefully be a long career for the local kid.

Olu Fashanu, T, Penn State

Let's move onto some players who Washington could realistically take with their draft capital.

A First Team All-American selection and the Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, Olu Fashanu (Gonzaga College High School) has the height (6-foot-6) and weight (312 pounds) that NFL teams are looking for in a left tackle. Though he still has to work on his technique, he's a physically dominant player who can bulldoze defensive tackles in the run game and keep up with defensive ends in pass protection.

Fashanu was one of the Eagles' best offensive weapons during his high school career, tallying 80 pancake blocks in his junior and senior seasons. He helped the Eagles win the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title during his junior year, earning an All-Met Honorable Mention for his efforts.

Chop Robinson, DE, Penn State

Penn State's Chop Robinson (Quince Orchard High School) might be the best example of someone's traits and potential drastically overshadowing his production in this year's draft.

Robinson's stats in three years with the Nittany Lions (35 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles) are not going to get scouts excited, but he does have rare athletic traits that could turn him into an elite NFL pass-rusher. As expected, he crushed the combine with a 4.48 40-yard dash, 10-foot-8 broad jump, 4.25 shuttle and 34.5-inch vertical. He'll need to diversify his pass-rush moves a bit, but a team is going to fall in love with what he could be in his career.

Quince Orchard had a dominant stretch with Robinson on the roster. They accumulated a 25-2 combined record in 2018 and 2019, including a 22-game win streak. Robinson ended his high school career by breaking the school's sack record, helping him become the top-ranked high school prospect in Maryland.

Beau Brade, S, Maryland

The University of Maryland has been trying to revamp its program under Mike Locksley. Beau Brade (River Hill High School) joined the program near the beginning of that effort, and he was an integral part of building the Terps' winning culture.

Brade was the Terps' enforcer during his junior and senior years, leading the Terps in both seasons with 160 combined stops. He shows good instincts in pass coverage by knowing how to track the ball in the air, recording three interceptions and 11 pass breakups in his career.

Brade's history as a dominant defensive player goes back to his high school days. He was the Howard County Defensive Player of the Year, breaking a school record in tackle assists (184) and ranked second all-time for Howard County in total tackles (450).

Khyree Jackson, CB, Oregon

It's rare to find a cornerback who can tower over receivers, but Oregon's Khyree Jackson (Dr. Henry Wise High School) fits that mold.

Jackson, a First Team All-Pac-12 selection, saw his production jump dramatically in 2023, recording 34 tackles (25 solo) with two sacks and three interceptions. Most of that is based on a lack of opportunity, as he only had 14 starts in his college career. If a team can get past that, there's a lot to like about his skill set, from his ability to bat away contested passes to his willingness to provide run support.

Jackson has had a winding career thus far. He started as a receiver for Wise High School, helping his team win a 4A state title with a 14-0 record while making 39 catches for 612 yards and 12 touchdowns. From there he attended Fort Scott Community College before transferring to Alabama, where he spent two seasons. Jackson transferred again for his senior year, this time for the Ducks, starting 12 games and leading the teamwith 10 pass breakups.

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