Commanders Projected to Go Heavy on Defense on Day 2

Ennis Rakestraw

Getty University of MIssouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw.

The Washington Commanders got their quarterback of the future in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, grabbing LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels at No. 2 overall.

Now, it’s time for defense.

Scout Inc. analyst Steve Muench’s Round 2 Mock Draft on ESPN has the Commanders using both of their second-round picks on April 26 on defensive players with Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw at No. 36 overall and Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper at the No. 40 overall pick.

The Commanders finished last in the NFL in total defense in 2023. Washington gave up 388.9 yards per game and 30.5 points per game — both league highs.

“The Commanders have a need at corner and land a potential starter in Rakestraw, who was a three-year starter in college,” Muench wrote. “Washington could continue to address a defense that finished last in points allowed per game last year (30.5) by drafting the versatile Cooper.

Can Rakestraw and Cooper Start Immediately?

Rakestraw and Cooper were projected as Round 2 picks by NFL analyst Lance Zierlein in pre-draft evaluations.

Rakestraw, 5-foot-11 and 183 pounds, battled injuries throughout his career at Missouri. He tore his ACL five games into his sophomore season in 2021 and missed four games in 2023 with a groin injury. He ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine in February, which is just a touch slow for NFL cornerbacks.

The Commanders whiffed big at cornerback in the 2022 draft, taking Mississippi State’s Emmanuel Forbes in the first round only to see him benched several times during the season. Even at that, Rakestraw might not be able to step in and play right away.

“He’s quicker than fast and does a nice job of breaking quickly on throws in front of him with well-timed challenges to knock the ball free,” Zierlein wrote. “He intercepted only one pass during his college career, which could be a concern, but his willingness and toughness in run support work in his favor. Rakestraw could become a good backup with eventual starter potential in the right scheme.”

Cooper, 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, seems somewhat better suited to step in and play right away and ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine — the same as Rakestraw despite outweighing him by almost 50 pounds.

Cooper filled up the stat sheet on the way to being named All-SEC and Associated Press All-American in 2023 with 83 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Zierlein wrote he plays with “unbridled passion and intensity,” in his pre-draft evaluation of Cooper.

That seems like a good thing.

Commanders Need Help Everywhere on Defense

The Commanders addressed their defensive deficiencies with hiring a new head coach, bringing in Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to replace Ron Rivera.

Quinn and the Commanders went big on defensive players in free agency, bringing in two potential starters at defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and Clelin Ferrell. Free agent linebacker Frankie Luvu and safety Jeremy Chinn could also be potential starters.

Washington also signed free-agent linebacker Bobby Wagner to a one-year, $8.5 million contract. Wagner, 34 years old, has his best years behind him but will add a veteran presence to the locker room.

Related Posts

Anаlyst: How Byron Murрһy сould һelр Seаһаwks’ fіnаnсіаl future

Tһe Seаttle Seаһаwks fіnd tһemselves іn а рeсulіаr sіtuаtіon wіtһ tһree montһs to go untіl рreseаson gаmes get underwаy. How Seаttle Seаһаwks mаde ‘smаrt deсіsіons’ іn NFL…

Bronсos’ Seаn Pаyton Mаkes Bold Predісtіon About NFL Rule Cһаnge

Tһere wіll be а lot of new fасes аnd tһіngs аround tһe Denver Bronсos аnd Heаd Coасһ Seаn Pаyton tһіs seаson, аnd tһe NFL іs undergoіng а…

Gіаnts’ Brіаn Dаboll sаys һe һаs ‘сonfіdenсe’ іn Cor’Dаle Flott

Tһere іs аn oрenіng іn tһe Gіаnts’ stаrtіng lіneuр аs а рerіmeter сornerbасk to рlаy асross from Deonte Bаnks аnd іt sounds аs іf tһere іs а…

NFL Wrіter Mаkes Inсredіbly Bold Suрer Bowl Predісtіon

Could tһe New York Jets аnd Detroіt Lіons end uр meetіng іn wһаt would be а very іntrіguіng Suрer Bowl next Februаry? Bleасһer Reрort’s Gаry Dаvenрort tһіnks…

Wһy Mаzі Smіtһ’s weіgһt іs so іmрortаnt for tһe Cowboys suссess

Mаzі Smіtһ һаd а seаson to forget іn 2023. Wіtһ only 304 defensіve snарs on tһe yeаr, tһe Cowboys fіrst round рісk struggled to get on tһe…

Could Baltimore Ravens Sign Pro Bowl Safety To Bolster Defense?