The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.
It's the start of the third season in the Ron Rivera era, and the Washington Commanders have a pristine opportunity to strengthen their roster.
In his first season as Washington's head coach, Rivera took Chase Young, who became the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year, with the No. 2 overall pick. The next season, he drafted Jamin Davis with the No. 19 overall pick, and the former Kentucky Wildcat showed promise in his first season.
Now, the Commanders have the No. 11 overall pick, and analysts are predicting them to go with a plethora of positions, from linebacker to safety and quarterback, at that spot.
In anticipation for that selection, Commanders.com will highlight one mock draft from a draft expert each week and delve into how that player would fit with Washington. Here are the players covered in previous weeks:
Next up, here's who Sporting News writer Vinnie Iyer has the Commanders taking in his latest mock draft.
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Rivera made it a priority to find an answer at quarterback this offseason, and three months after he made that proclamation, the team traded for Carson Wentz. The move did alter other plans for free agency, but it also cemented Washington's answer at the position.
The next step is to surround Wentz with talent. In many ways, the Commanders have already done that with Terry McLaurin leading the receiving corps and the duo of Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic in the backfield. But why not continue adding to that with one of the top receivers in the class?
That's the approach Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer thinks the Commanders should take, and he has them selecting Ohio State's Olave with the 11th pick.
"The Commanders need to give Carson Wentz and Terry McLaurin some help at wideout and getting a true speedy No. 1 outside would be a great decision for Scott Turner's offense," Iyer wrote. "Olave has a little more all-around appeal for his explosiveness than former teammates Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams."
Olave, a four-star recruit out of California, has been steadily rising up draft boards in recent months, and that's a credit in part to how impressive he was during the NFL Combine in March. Officially, his 40-yard dash time stands at a 4.39, which already makes him one of the fastest wideouts in a speedy class. Prior to his official time, however, Olave ran a blazing 4.26.
The Commanders already have a trio of speedsters on offense with McLaurin (4.35), Gibson (4.39) and Curtis Samuel (4.31). Adding another of Olave's pedigree (quarterbacks have a passer rating of 133.5 when throwing to him) would bring more fortification to a passing offense that ranked 20th last season.
"The quiet storm of the Ohio State wide receiver corps, Olave is smooth, steady and makes things happen," wrote NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, who compared Olave to McLaurin. "His movements are fluid and easy from snap to the catch and all points between. He's fast but efficient and plays with the bend and foot agility to uncover on all three levels."
The possibility of pairing McLaurin with Olave is one that has intrigued analysts. After all, the two already have a strong relationship from their days at Ohio State. Olave discussed their bond at the NFL Combine, saying that McLaurin became a mentor to him early in his college career. That bond is something Olave still cherishes today.
"I call him every now and then. We text every other day," Olave said. "Terry is a huge role model to me."
It's clear that Olave took McLaurin's lessons to heart, because after McLaurin was drafted by Washington in 2019, he became one of Ohio State's most dominant weapons. He caught 176 receptions and 2,711 yards, but his real value came as a scorer, as he broke the Buckeyes' receiving touchdown record with 35.
Olave pairs that scoring ability and speed with fluid routes, which is why Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson has him ranked as the second-best receiver behind his teammate, Garrett Wilson.
"Olave might not have the breadth of Wilson's skill set, but his fluidity of movement and slickness of route running makes him a really high-floor player," Monson wrote. "Everything he does to get open looks effortless, and that same ease of movement makes him sneaky good after the catch."
It's true that Washington has dipped into the Ohio State pool of talent on multiple occasions, but it has proven to be the right choice before. McLaurin has been a consummate leader for the Commanders since he was drafted, and he's been their most consistent weapon by a large margin.
The team is still waiting for Samuel, who wasn't drafted by Washington but did sign with the team last offseason, to be the player he was with the Carolina Panthers. But those limitations were caused by injuries that hampered Samuel throughout the 2021 season, and the expectation is that he will be healthy in 2022.
Adding Olave to the mix would give Washington one of the youngest receiving corps in the NFL (the team also drafted Dyami Brown with a third-round pick last year). In terms of pure talent, though, it would be quite the matchup, and there's a possibility Washington would have answers at the position for years to come.
"[Olave] will be immediately productive in the NFL," Monson wrote.