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Mock Draft Monday | Here's who PFF's Sam Monson has the Commanders taking in the first round

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The following article is based on the opinions of external draft analysts.

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We're heading into the fourth season of 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. And last year, the Commanders took Jahan Dotson, who wasted no time in becoming a valuable member of the Commanders' receiving corps.

Now, the Commanders have the No. 16 overall pick, and analysts are predicting them to go with a plethora of positions, from offensive line to cornerback and linebacker, 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 we have covered so far:

This week, we're highlighting one of the top options at offensive tackle.

Anton Harrison, OT, Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Anton Harrison is not necessarily one of the first names that comes to mind when analysts discuss the best tackles in this year's draft.

From the time that mock drafts first started to pop up en masse, players like Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson and Broderick Jones were at the top of people's boards. But as the draft continues to inch closer, more analysts are starting to appreciate the value that Harrison can bring as a run-blocker and pass-protector.

With the draft less than two weeks away, Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson has the Washington Commanders taking that value with their first-round pick.

"Washington would be tempted by a cornerback at this spot, but I felt tackle represented better value," Monson wrote in his April 10 mock draft. "The Commanders could start him at right tackle right now with a plan for him to potentially succeed Charles Leno Jr. on the left side after a year or two."

When it comes to experience, there are few offensive linemen who are as ready for the NFL as Harrison, who came to Oklahoma in 2019 as a four-star recruit out of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. Over the last three seasons, he has 34 appearances with 24 started since 2021 at left tackle.

While Harrison is a well-rounded player, he excels the most in pass protection. He allowed only nine pressures and just one sack on 447 pass block snaps during the 2022 season with an efficiency rating of 98.8. It has become routine for Harrison to put up similar numbers, as he had just 10 combines pressures in his previous two seasons for the Sooners.

"Harrison is self-aware and does a nice job of utilizing his strengths to mask his weaknesses," NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote in his evaluation of Harrison. "He has a feel for pocket depth and uses his length and an inside-out approach to get the job done, but NFL speed could have him scrambling without help."

Don't let his 6-foot-4, 315-pound frame distract from the fact that Harrison is a standout athlete who knows how to keep himself between pass-rushers and the quarterback. He can mirror defenders with ease because of his quick feet, and he can deliver a strong punch that can disrupt defensive ends' pass-rushing lanes. If defenders try to get around him, they normally end up with their faces planted firmly into the turf.

Harrison's ability in pass-protection is exactly why PFF's Trevor Sikkema predicted the Commanders would take him back in December.

"He's not the strongest offensive tackle you'll see in this class, but his smoothness in pass protection is a big-time calling card for the next level. In each of the past two seasons, he's graded above 83.0 in pass protection," Sikkema wrote.

Pass protection is not the only thing Harrison can offer, though. He can be overwhelmingly physical in the run game and knows how to create running lanes on the perimeter for running backs to plow through. He also knows how to navigate through to find his man on pull blocker, which is a trait he showed off last year against Oklahoma State.

If Harrison does get drafted by the Commanders at No. 16 overall, there would be a few obstacles in the way of him being a Week 1 starter. Leno is currently slated as the team's primary left tackle, and either Sam Cosmi or Andrew Wylie will be the starter on the right. That's not to say that it is impossible for him to be a starter, but he would have to earn that right over at least two veterans.

But based on how the Commanders' offensive line situation has fared over the last two seasons, there is a chance Harrison would still play as a rookie even if he doesn't start. Leno was the only starter who played every game in 2022, and the situation was almost as dire in 2021.

It would not be ideal for that situation to repeat itself again in 2023, but if it does, then it would benefit Washington to have young talent as a reserve option.

"He's the best tackle in the class, in my opinion," PFF's Felix Anudike-Uzomah said of Harrison.

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