Which rookie was the Commanders’ best value selection?

In almost every mock draft you saw coming into last month’s 2024 NFL draft, Illinois defensive tackle Johnny Newton was projected to land in the first round.

Unfortunately for Newton, that did not happen. However, fortunately for the Washington Commanders, Newton was available to them with the fourth pick in the second round — No. 36 overall.

General manager Adam Peters told Newton on draft night he couldn’t believe he was still available, something he has reiterated since. Despite already having Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne on the roster, Peters believes Newton is a perfect fit.

Newton, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2023, suffered a Jones fracture in his foot that he played with last season. He had surgery after the season, forcing him to miss on-field workouts at the NFL combine.

The injury was likely why Newton fell, making him a potential steal for the Commanders.

It’s also why Newton was Washington’s best value selection in last month’s draft.

David Kenyon of Bleacher Report recently named every NFL team’s best value selection, and Newton was Washington’s pick.

Edge-rusher loomed as the Commanders’ key need after they traded Montez Sweat and Chase Young ahead of last year’s trade deadline. But when Jer’Zhan Newton (20th on the B/R big board) surprisingly made it to No. 36, Washington had to take advantage.

Newton amassed 22.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks during his final two years at Illinois.

Newton isn’t coming to Washington to simply back up Payne and Allen. Defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. will have packages where all three are on the field at the same time. Newton has a chance to make an instant impact as a rookie.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire