The following article is based on the opinions of external draft analysts.
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:
Next, we're sticking with the offensive line and highlighting one of the best tackle prospects in the SEC.
Broderick Jones, T, Georgia
Running a sub-5.0 40 is expected for most positions at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it's a far rarer occurrence for offensive linemen.
Of the 51 offensive linemen who ran the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, only five finished with a time below five seconds. Georgia tackle Broderick Jones was among them and led all centers, guards and tackles with a 4.97.
"That's a smooth, easy run," said the NFL Network commentator as Jones breezed through the drill.
Jones made a lot of things look easy during his week at the combine. His athleticism, production and total score all ranked in the top three for the tackle position. Add all that to some solid size metrics (he was measured at 6-foot-5 and weighed at 311 pounds), and it's no wonder he is considered a first-round pick. In a joint mock draft last week, FOX Sports' David Helman and Carmen Vitali had the Commanders adding that talent to their offensive front.
"It makes sense that the Commanders want to upgrade their offensive line, especially if they wind up starting a young quarterback in 2023," wrote Vitali and Helman. "They technically have bigger needs on the line than left tackle, but Jones is talented enough that it shouldn't matter."
Jones, a former five-star recruit from Lithonia, Georgia, only had a handful of starts during his time at Georgia. He was the Bulldogs' left tackle in the final four games of the 2021 season, earning freshman All-SEC honors in the process, and he held onto the job in 2022, starting all 15 games and getting a First Team All-SEC selection on the way to a national championship run.
In that limited time, however, Jones has shown that he is one of the top tackles in the country. ESPN's Mel Kiper has him ranked third among all tackles on his big board, and Todd McShay has him as the third offensive lineman taken in his latest mock draft.
"Speed at the position actually translates to success in the NFL," McShay wrote. "He might have just 19 starts under his belt, but Jones displays a lot of the traits that NFL scouts want to see in an offensive tackle: quick feet, upper-body power, range and snap on initial contact."
Those traits show up the most in pass protection. Jones earned a pass-blocking grade of 84.1 (fourth in the SEC) from Pro Football Focus for allowing just nine pressures and zero sacks on 933 pass-blocking snaps in 2022. The impressive part? Jones was that effective with his frame and technique in what NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein called “the developmental phase.”
"Jones is very talented at working into space and landing a block to help spring the running game," Zierlein wrote. "He has the nimble feet to mirror or recover against the rush. Jones isn't a finished product, but the physical and athletic gifts allow for a projection as a good, long-time starter."
Zierlein noted that Jones' punch needs to improve. That will be a point of emphasis for him, especially against quicker, more agile NFL defensive ends who will pounce on any hesitation from tackles. But Jones is already working on that part of his skill set, judging by what he did at Georgia's pro day, and it looks like he has made some improvements.
Washington clearly needed help at offensive line last season, and they have already addressed the group with veterans like Andrew Wylie and Nick Gates. Neither acquisition hints at the Commanders being done bolstering the group.
If Washington does end up taking Jones with the No. 16 pick, it could get a foundational piece to the offensive line for the foreseeable future.
"He could either be a Day 1 starter on the left side or begin his career at right tackle," wrote Helman and Vitali. "Regardless, it's a clear upgrade and a step in the right direction."