American Football

12 Bold Predictions for the 2024 Commanders and NFL Draft and Bold Predictions Challenge


NFL Combine
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Last chance to talk about QBs and OTs before it gets real

The draft is almost here, so this is one of your last chances to share your strong opinions about what Adam Peters must do with the second overall pick to avoid blowing the rebuild. It is a well kept secret that the Commanders have eight other picks and I’ll also make some predictions about what they’ll do with some of them, as well as some moves that other teams will make and who the hidden gems of the deep WR class will be.

If you want to know how the draft will play out for Washington and the rest of the league, keep reading. If not, look away now.

This year I have made a concerted effort to make predictions that can be evaluated the week before next year’s draft. But there were a few long term predictions I couldn’t help making.

I didn’t have time to write a recap of last year’s Bold Predictions, but you can look them up here and lambaste me for the ones I got wrong. I think I got one right. I should have got 2, but Hunter Luepke was robbed.

Now, for the bold predictions:

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1) A year from now, the majority of Hogs Haven readers will feel that the Commanders have found their QB of the future.

I am not predicting that the Commanders will have found their QBotF. Only that the majority opinion will be that we’ve got our guy.

I am not even predicting that the QB Washington drafts will have a strong rookie debut. He doesn’t need to.

While there is always a diversity of opinion, when it comes to quarterbacks, the Hogs Haven readership tends to be a hopeful bunch. Time and time again, they have shown an ability to latch onto the slightest glimmer of hope that we have finally found our guy and run with it.

There was the legendary 6-3 start to the 2018 season, when Alex Smith led an innovative run-it-a-lot offense which had Washigton leading the division. There was Dwayne Haskins’ rookie debut (QBR 28.0), which apparently showed enough promise that we weren’t all screaming to draft a QB at #2 in 2020. Then there was the unlikely hero, Taylor Heinicke, who nearly beat Tom Brady in the 2020 Wild Card round, and carried the team through successive 7- and 8-win campaigns, when the more highly acclaimed QBs chosen to start ahead of him faltered.

Imagine if a Giants fan told you that his team had finally found their guy after a single game with a stat line of 11/19 (57.9%) completions for 169 yds, 1 TD:1 INT, 3 sacks and 1 rushing TD (QBR 48.3). You would shake your head. Yet, that was enough to convince many of us that Sam Howell was the guy in 2023. In the wake of a 388/612 (63.5%), 3,946 yd, 21 TD:21 INT, 65 sack performance (QBR 42.4), ending in a catastrophic meltdown through the final 6 games, some fans are still carrying a torch for the one who got away, and mumbling “Washington done messed up”.

I don’t know what it would take for Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye to fail to capture the hope and imagination of the fanbase after one season. But I doubt that either young man is capable of playing or behaving that badly.

2) A year from now, Washington’s situation at offensive tackle will be a subject of debate.

Ron Rivera left a diabolical puzzle for incoming GM Adam Peters to solve in his first offseason with the Commanders. Entering the draft needing to find capable starters for the coming season at LT and RT would be challenging enough, even with the 2nd and 36th picks in hand. Also needing to find a starting QB makes that nearly impossible. And it’s not like you can just pick starting OTs off of trees in free agency before the draft.

There are two LTs in this draft class graded as first year starters. Washington has a better chance of drafting an early starter at RT. Even so it will be challenging to find a way to draft an RT who doesn’t need significant development time after spending the 2nd overall pick on a QB.

Compounding those challenges is the fact, that even elite OTs frequently struggle in their first NFL season.

Whatever the eventual outcome of the OT(s) that Washington drafts, I predict that they will fail to live up to the outsized expectations that fans will set for them in their rookie season(s).

3) The Washington Commanders will make Olu Fashanu their second selection in the 2024 draft

The best insurance against prediction 2 coming true is to draft one of the two LTs with an early starting grade. Unfortunately for the Commanders, Joe Alt and Olu Fashanu are out of reach from 36 without a franchise-crippling trade.

Maybe not.

The top of this draft is stacked with QBs, elite WR prospects, a once in a decade prospect at TE and a few elite RT and EDGE prospects. Those players are likely to push Fashanu later than you would expect him to go in other years. Fashanu has also dropped a little, possibly because some teams view him as very good, but not elite. That could work in the Commanders’ favor, because his ultimate ceiling is less of a priority for us than how quickly he can come up to starting level.

To estimate where he is likely to be taken, I used the highly scientific method of averaging his draft position in the 7 writers’ mock drafts on His position ranged from 7 to 21, with a mean of 15 and a median of 16.

The Colts are picking 15th and have had a good recent experience trading with Washington. According to the Rich Hill trade value chart, the 15th pick is exactly equal in value to Washington’s two second round picks. If Fashanu slips significantly past the top 14 in the draft, the Commanders should be able to trade up to grab him without giving up more than their two second round picks. Peters will jump on that opportunity.

NFL: MAR 01 Scouting Combine
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4) At least two QBs selected in the top 5, after Caleb Williams, will not become long term NFL starters

The reason I have been unable to fall in love with any of the top QBs after #1 in this draft class is that, for every reason I find to convince me that one of them is the guy, there is a fatal flaw which convinces me he’ll fail. After agonizing over this for a few months, I have finally come to the realization that it’s not me, it’s them.

I suspect that with the ever-inflating value of quarterbacks a collective wishful group think has set in, which is driving more and more QB prospects up to the top of the first round. College football isn’t producing more starting quality QBs than before. We are just wishing that they would.

There is talk that the 2024 draft could rival the record 1983 QB draft class. It might, in terms of the number of QBs drafted in the first round. But I suspect it will be closer to 2018 in terms of the number of long-term starters it produces. My best guess is that there will be three long-term starters, Caleb Williams, one more taken in the top 10 and one drafted in the second half of the first round or later. But that’s not part of the prediction.

Unfortunately, this is one prediction I won’t be able to grade this time next year.

5) The Minnesota Vikings will do a blockbuster trade with the LA Chargers to pick a QB fifth overall

My minimum threshold for a blockbuster trade is giving away draft capital exceeding Rich Hill trade chart value by more than the value of a second round pick. But I suspect they might go full moron, like the RG3, Trey Lance and Bryce Young deals.

The Vikings have made no secret about their intention to trade up for a QB. They will likely be aiming for a destination in the top 5 to give them a shot at one of the top 3 QBs after Caleb Williams. Washington seems dialled in on a QB at 2. The Patriots will likely follow suit at 3.

Arizona’s Michael Bidwell is making a bid to replace Dan Snyder as the most dysfunctional team owner. I doubt that organization has what it takes to recognize the opportunity, despite being well placed to trade back, since they have another first round pick.

That leads me to the Chargers. Jim Harbaugh has just moved to town and will be looking to remake the team in his image. The roster is full of holes and there is plenty of talk about the Chargers trading back to fill them. A trade back to 11 would still present opportunities to draft a highly rated receiver or OT, which seem to be their top wants, in a deep draft at both positions.

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6) The QB the Vikings draft in the first round will fail to live up to their expectations.

Since 2011, when the rookie wage scale came into effect, there have been 7 trades targeting QBs in the top 5. The best QB targeted by any of those trades was Jared Goff. Despite two Pro Bowl nominations, and leading the Rams to the Super Bowl, Goff was traded to the Lions after his fifth season.

The other QBs targeted in those trades were RG3, Carson Wentz, Mitch Trubisky, Sam Darnold, Trey Lance and Bryce Young. Young still has time to bounce back from a disastrous rookie season. None of the others stuck long term with the team that drafted them.

I see no reason to believe that Minnesota will become the first team in the modern draft era to hit on a QB in blockbuster trade into the top 5, particularly since they will probably end up with J.J. McCarthy. Even if their QB has some level of success, it will be hard for him to live up to the expectations that get established when a team gives away multiple first round picks, unless he’s a superstar.

Notice that I have given myself an out. I can still get this one right, even if they dont trade up to #5 to get their guy. He just has to be a disappointment.

Oops, that’s another one I won’t be able to evaluate for a few years.

7) The Commanders will draft a defensive lineman before pick #152.

What? DL is the least of Peters’ concerns, right?

I strongly suspect that Joe Whitt and Dan Quinn feel a much great need at DL than most fans. In Dallas, Quinn rotated five interior defensive linemen. Osa Odighizuwa played 59.5% of defensive snaps. The other four played between 27% and 33% of defensive snaps.

Looking at the Commanders’ current depth chart, Washington’s new defensive coaches are likely to find themselves two players short and a skillset missing to implement Quinn’s scheme with multiple fronts. Dallas’ most utilized iDL, Osa, is 6-2, 280 lbs. He and DT Chauncey Golston (6-5, 268) are explosive athletes who were moved around from the interior to the edge.

Washington has three players that are up to the Dallas DL standard. Jon Allen, Daron Payne and John Ridgeway, whom Quinn drafted. I am certain that that Whitt will be looking to find two more iDL for his rotation and at least one of them will be smaller than the Commanders’ starters and capable of rushing from the edge. One of them might be Jack Del Rio’s secret weapon Benning Potoa’e. The other won’t be Phil Mathis,

Two prospects in the draft who might fit the scheme are Michigan DT Kris Jenkins (6-3, 299, RAS 8.99), Clemson DT Ruke Orhorhoro (6-4, 294, RAS 9.90), Ohio State DT Michael Hall Jr. (6-3, 290, RAS 9.57), LSU DT Mekhi Wingo (6-0, 284 lbs, RAS 8.78), Oregon DT Brandon Dorlus (6-3, 283, RAS 8.66).

NFL Combine
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8) The Commanders will draft a press-man CB in the third round.

It’s a safe bet that Joe Whitt will be getting at least one CB with starting potential in the draft. What makes this bold is narrowing it down to a single round.

Dan Quinn’s defense in Dallas was derived from the Seattle’s original Legion of Boom. The coverage scheme makes heavy use of Cover-1 (man coverage with a free safety in the middle of the field) with boundary corners in press-man coverage. Quinn liked his corners on the big and long side. The three corners who played the boundary were all 6-0 or taller and over 190 lbs.

The CBs Whitt inherited from Rivera were drafted to suit a zone coverage scheme, and aren’t very good. Peters signed a few replacement-level players in free agency, but none that looks like a starter.

The Commanders are going to be looking for big, press-man corners in the draft. My tip off that they will be taking a CB in the third round was their Top 30 visits. The two CBs they invited who fit the profile (Elijah Jones, Cam Hart) are both projected to go around the end of the third round and beginning of the fourth. Three other CBs who fit the bill in that draft range are Renardo Green (Florida State, 6-0, 186 lbs), Kyree Jackson (6-4, 194 lbs), and Nehemiah Pritchett (Auburn, 6-0, 190 lbs).

9) The Commanders will draft a running back.

I admit, this one’s really out there. But it’s not completely crazy. The Commanders have much bigger needs elsewhere. But I think Kliff Kingsbury will look at his running backs and put a request in for one in the draft.

Kingsbury ran the ball a lot more than some people give him credit for in Arizona. He likes RBs who can run, block and catch passes on routes out of the backfield or flexed out to WR. Brian Robinson fits, as does Austin Ekeler. But Chris Rodriguez does not.

I just have a feeling in my bones that Kingsbury will want someone more explosive than Brian Robinson. Jaylen Wright might be an option, as would Ray Davis, Will Shipley, Isaac Guerendo, or maybe even Audric Estime.

Maybe that’s crazy.

NFL Combine
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10) WR Keon Coleman will outplay at least four WRs drafted before him

Wide Receiver is one of the most difficult positions to project to the NFL. It is the only position where there is not difference in outcomes between players drafted in the first and second rounds. Every year, a WR drafted on Day 2 or 3 outplays WRs drafted in the first round. And almost as frequently, highly rated prospects are busts.

Because it is so hard to pick them, I have made a tradition of trying to predict the later round WR will outperform his first round classmates. This year there are three perfect candidates in different parts of the draft, so I have decided to triple up.

The second round WR who will outperform WRs drafted in the first round is Keon Coleman, Florida State. Coleman has a special skillset, but is rated lower than he should be because he ran a slow 40 time at the Combine. Straight line speed is not really relevant to his game. He wins with size, extension and elite ball skills. Inferring that he’ll struggle to get separation because he ran a slow timed straight line sprint is actually kind of silly. He played fast against SEC defenders. A similar receiver who ran a slow 40 was DeAndre Hopkins.

If I get this prediction wrong, it will probably be Roman Wilson or Xavier Legette.

11) WR Malik Washington will exceed expectations of his draft status.

The middle round WR who will make people wonder why he wasn’t drafted earlier is Malik Washington. Washington had the second highest receiving total in the NCAA in 2023 (1,385 yds), after Malik Nabers. He tied for 6th in the draft class in Yards per Route Run. And yet, for some reason, he only ranks 99th on the consensus draft board.

I suppose the reasons he wasn’t rated higher is that he’s very short (5’8 ½”) and that he projects as a slot receiver in the NFL. At 191 lbs, he’s not small. He’s built like a running back. Still, there aren’t a lot of successful NFL receivers below 5-9. But a lot of successful WRs were only ½” taller, including Mark Clayton, Steve Smith Sr, Wes Welker, Brett Perriman, Mark Duper, Gary Clark, and Drew Hill. And speaking of running backs, the greatest halfback of all time, Barry Sanders was the same height as Malik.

One reason to not be concerned about Malik’s height is that he plays bigger than his size. He ranked 1st in the draft class in Forced Missed Tackles, with 35. He averaged 6.4 Yards After the Catch per Reception. He had a 64.7% catch rate on contested targets (10th in class). He had a drop rate of 2.6% and no fumbles in 111 receptions. Those are big receiver stats.

But he is a slot receiver. So is Amon-Ra St. Brown.

One team where he might be a particularly good fit is the Commanders. One of the key tools in Kingsbury’s system in Arizona was the shallow cross, with receivers running underneath zones or beating man coverage on cross routes a few yards past the line of scrimmage. Washington made his living on underneath routes in college. He has exceptional catch focus and strong hands to make tough catches in traffic, and plays with strength and contact balance to break tackles and tack on yards after the catch.

If he lands in the right system, he will become a star.

NFL Combine
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12) This year’s Puka Nacua is Tahj Washington.

I’m not actually predicting that Boyd will break Nacua’s rookie receiving record. Just that he will be the Day 3 WR who goes in the first round in redrafts.

Tahj Washington had the 8th highest receiving total in the draft class, catching 59 passes for 1,062 yds and 8 TDs. He was also 8th in the class in Yards per Route Run (3.06) and Forced Missed Tackles (18). He tied for 10th in Contested Catch Rate (66.7%), and only dropped 1 of 67 targets (1.7%). Like his namesake Malik, he had no fumbles in 2023.

Where Tahj particularly stands out is in making plays with the ball in his hands. He ranked 8th in the draft class with an average of 8.6 Yards After the Catch per Reception (tie with Malachi Corley). None of the players ranked higher than him are names I have heard of.

He’s also the best perimeter run blocker in the WR class and a dangerous kick returner.

Like Malik Washington, the main reason he is ranked as low as he is must be his size. He is an inch taller and a pound heavier than Redskins great Gary Clark, one of the toughest possession receivers to ever play football. His size is not an issue.

Whichever team drafts him will make the other 31 teams regret not taking him a round or two earlier. I very much hope that one of the WRs named Washington ends up in Washington.

Bold Predictions Challenge

Now comes your opportunity to claim bragging rights as the best talent evaluator and draft predictor on Hogs Haven. In previous years this has been free form. This year, I am going to change it up.

Since many among us have strong opinion about which QBs with be superstars and which will be busts, and whose opinions are wrong, let’s commit them all to writing and see how they hold up one year from now. The same goes for OTs.

To enter the contest, post your predictions in the Comments. A legal entry must contain the following four predictions:

Prediction 1: Name up to 5 QB prospects who will become average or better long-term starters

Prediction 2: Name up to 5 QBs drafted in the top 50 picks who will be busts

Prediction 3: Name up to 5 OT prospects who will become quality starters

Prediction 4: Name up to 5 OTs drafted in the top 50 picks who will be busts

Predictions 5 to 12: Free form – make any other bold predictions you like that can be evaluated this time next year.

A valid entry must contain entries for Predictions 1 to 4. You can stop there or make up to 12 total predictions in total. Predictions that cannot be evaluated this time next year will not be counted.

Entries will be judged based on accuracy, boldness and total number correct. Predictions 1 to 4 will be awarded 1 point for each correct call, and deducted 1 point for each incorrect call. So, up to +/-5 pts for each prediction. Predictions 5 through 12 will be awarded one point for each correct prediction, with no deductions for incorrect predictions. Predictions that are not bold will not score points.

Unlimited extra bonus points will be awarded in proportion to boldness of correct predictions. For example, predicting the player Washington drafts at pick #67 might fetch you 5 pts. Correctly predicting that a QB drafted with pick #257 wins Super Bowl MVP, might get 50 points.

The budget for prizes was cut this year. The winning entrant gets to claim bragging rights for actually being able to predict which players will do well and which won’t. And since it’s all written down, we’ll be able to look it up and see that you were right.

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