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 is Utah's Devin Lloyd.
Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
There's one thing to know about Lloyd: he considers himself a hunter on the field, and whether it's stopping a run, bringing down a quarterback or coming down with an interception, the two-time Butkus Award Finalist finds a way to claim his prize.
He made that much clear in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine.
"I'm very calculated with my movements and somebody who is an instinctual player that plays with physicality," Lloyd said. "Just someone who's really smart and nasty."
The analysts seem to agree, with many of them viewing Lloyd as the best linebacker in this year's draft class. And according to ESPN's Todd McShay, he could be an ideal fit in Washington.
"Lloyd's sideline-to-sideline range and versatility can help Washington in a bunch of areas," McShay wrote in his latest mock draft.
Lloyd believes he is a versatile player who can do anything on the field, and that's exactly what he accomplished at Utah over the past four seasons. Lloyd, a three-year starter, has 256 career tackles, 43 of which were for a loss. While he's been a standout for the Utes since 2019, he was at his best in 2021; his 110 stops led the team, which helped him earn a 91.4 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
That's the second-highest grade for a Power 5 linebacker since 2020.
"He plays with the willful demeanor of an NFL alpha linebacker and is sneaky talented as a rusher either blitzing or aligning off the edge," wrote NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein.
It was hard for Lloyd to be labeled "sneaky talented as a rusher" when he was the second-most productive pass rusher on Utah's defense, though. He recorded eight sacks in 2021, which led all Pac-12 linebackers. Three of those came against Arizona and helped the Utes seal the 38-29 victory.
It's been a long road for Lloyd, who starred as a wide receiver, safety and punter at Otay Ranch High School in California. After taking a red shirt season in 2017, he switched to linebacker and saw steady growth. PFF graded his first year as a starter with a 69.5. That increased to 82.2, highlighted with a pass-rush grade of 83.5.
By the time the 2021 season had concluded. He was the highest-graded linebacker in his conference.
"I'm personally a believer in patience,"Lloyd told PFF. "I know things will come with patience. I've never won a championship in my life, and I firmly believe that we can do that and we could accomplish that this year. I've believed that since before I made a decision."
The biggest progress Lloyd has made is in coverage. He grabbed four interceptions in 2021, and two of them were returned for touchdowns. Perhaps the most notable came in the Pac-12 Championship against Oregon, which put the Utes up 14-0 in a 38-10 rout.
"Devin is a special football player. He's the best defender that's ever come through the University of Utah, at least in the modern era," said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. "He's going to be, most likely, the highest drafted defensive player that we've had."
As it currently stands, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is Utah's highest drafted defensive player, and it just so happens that it was Rivera's Carolina Panthers that took him 14th overall in 2013. The Commanders do have a need at linebacker, and with Lloyd viewed by some analysts as one of the few linebackers worthy of a first-round pick, maybe Rivera will dip into the Utes' talent pool again.