Who was the Commanders’ best draft steal?
The Washington Commanders recently completed the 2023 NFL draft adding seven new players to the roster. The Commanders selected four defensive players and three offensive players.
Washington’s first two picks, defensive backs Emmanuel Forbes and Jartavius Martin, will start as rookies. The third-round pick, center Ricky Stromberg, will compete with Nick Gates to start at center. The rest of the Commanders’ draft class will be counted upon to add depth in 2023.
So which Washington rookie is its biggest draft steal?
Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire named a steal for all 32 teams, and his pick for Washington was former Clemson defensive end, K.J. Henry.
Ron Rivera did a lot for his secondary with the Commanders’ first two picks (Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes and Illinois safety Jartavius Martin), and then, did some interesting things for his team’s pass rush on the third day. Getting Louisiana edge defender Andre Jones Jr. in the seventh round was cool, but I especially liked the decision to select Clemson’s KJ Henry with the 137th overall pick in the fifth round. Last season, Henry led the Tigers with 53 total pressures — 19 more than Myles Murphy, who went to the Bengals with the 29th overall pick.
Not that Henry is the same kind of player — Murphy has a more refined palette — but it’s hard to argue with Henry’s five sacks, 14 quarterback hits, and 34 quarterback hurries when you consider where Washington got him. The 6-foot-4, 251-pound Henry needs to develop more moves and counters, but he comes into the league with great quickness off the snap, and surprising power to get to the quarterback.
Henry spoke to local radio stations in Washington throughout the week, speaking of his father’s fandom of the Commanders and his excitement about beginning his professional career.
Chase Young and Montez Sweat are Washington’s starters at defensive end. Henry has a chance to compete with James Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill for snaps in 2023, as he possesses a higher upside as a pass rusher than either Smith-Williams or Toohill — both good players but not explosive rushers.