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Mock Draft Monday | Mel Kiper Jr. gives Commanders help at positions of need

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It's a new year in a new era for the Washington Commanders, and they have a chance to start the Dan Quinn-Adam Peters regime off by taking one of the best players in college football.

The Commanders hold the No. 2 overall pick following a 4-13 finish to the 2023 season. After jumping out to a 2-0 start, the Commanders won only two games for the rest of the year and wrapped the season up with an eight-game losing streak, the longest in the league and the longest for the franchise since the 2013 season. But with them picking so high, the team will have their choice of whoever they want to name as the first player of Quinn and Peters' efforts to recalibrate the roster through the draft.

Most analysts anticipate that the Commanders will take a quarterback with the pick, and there are a variety of players to choose from if that is the path the team takes. While they are getting closer to a decision, there are several factors to consider. They could stay at No. 2, or they could trade the pick to move up or down, depending on whether the deal makes sense for them. They could also address other needs on the roster, whether it's offensive line, receiver or pass-rusher.

In anticipation for that selection, will highlight one mock draft from a draft expert each week to delve into how that player would fit with Washington. In the penultimate edition of this year's Mock Draft Monday series, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. gives Washington help at quarterback, offensive line and cornerback.

No. 2: LSU QB Jayden Daniels

Analysts are starting to zero in on a favorite for the Commanders as we get closer to Draft Day.

One could argue that the draft doesn't really begin until the Commanders are on the clock. Most assume that the Chicago Bears are going to take USC quarterback Caleb Williams -- a move that seems likely since the team traded Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers. As for what Washington will do, no one has a clue outside of some hunches from experts. That's exactly how Quinn and Peters want it.

Although the debate between LSU's Jayden Daniels and UNC's Drake Maye is an ongoing discussion, most are leaning towards the former because of his unique skill set running the ball paired with his sound technique as a passer. Kiper, however, has been connecting the Commanders to Daniels for months now, and he isn't backing down from that assertion.

"Washington traded away 2023 starter Sam Howell last month, clearing a spot for a rookie quarterback to take the reins," Kiper wrote. "Daniels, who produced more than 15,000 combined passing and rushing yards at Arizona State and LSU, has all the tools to be a Pro Bowl passer."

The Commanders have had a busy offseason, as they've overturned half the roster and filled it with experienced veterans who can contribute right away. Much of that work has been on offense, as they signed center Tyler Biadasz, guard Nick Allegretti, tight end Zach Ertz and running back Austin Ekeler. Those moves don't necessarily provide hints to Washington's intentions, but a young quarterback will now be surrounded by smart, seasoned players for their rookie year, assuming that's the path the Commanders take next week.

Kiper wants to see Washington continue building that infrastructure, and they have tools to do it.

"They have five picks on Day 2 -- two in the second round, three in the third -- to help," Kiper wrote.

Click **HERE** for a full evaluation of Daniels in a previous Mock Draft Monday.

No. 36: Arizona T Jordan Morgan

Considering the depth of the offensive tackle class this year, it's inevitable that one of the top prospects will fall into the second round. This is where Washington can swipe a fringe first-round caliber player at No. 36 overall, and Kiper has the Commanders taking veteran Jordan Morgan at the top of the second round.

Morgan, a three-year starter, does look the part with a 6-foot-5 and 311-pound frame to go with nearly 33-inch arms. He performed like one of the top tackles in college football in 2023, finishing with the 11th best grade from PFF, allowing just two sacks and one quarterback hit.

Morgan has the athleticism to keep up with today's defensive ends in the NFL, but his technique could use some fine-tuning before he becomes a full-time starter. There are moments when his punch isn't consistently intense, and his footwork can be a little sloppy. It's also possible that he could move over to guard in the NFL. If he intends to stay at left tackle, he'll need to fix the smaller issues with his skill set. The good defensive ends will attack those weaknesses, and the great ones will consistently exploit them.

Although it'll take some work, there is a path for Morgan to develop into a reliable starter early in his career.

"His tape is extremely consistent -- in both the pass and run games, he rarely blew his assignments," Kiper wrote.

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders wrapping up Week 2 of the offseason workout program.

No. 40: Rutgers CB Max Melton

Kiper has had his eye on Max Melton for a while now. A Fourth Team All-Big Ten selection by Phil Steele, Melton had 40 starts at the collegiate level, recording eight interceptions and 22 pass breakups.

But Melton's combine performance is why Kiper listed the cornerback as one of his risers back in March. He ran a 4.39 40-yard dash along with recording a 40.5-inch vertical and an 11-foot-4 broad jump Indianapolis.

Melton is coming off his best season at Rutgers, earning a 73.5 grade from Pro Football Focus. He allowed a career-low 72 yards after the catch, limiting quarterbacks to a completion rate of 54.5% when targeting him.

Melton will need to develop his skill set before he can become a starter. With time, however, he could be a ball hawk with his strengths in zone coverage.

"Melton...has a great blend of production and physical tools," Kiper wrote.

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