Draft Class May Have Set Commanders up for Historic Turnaround

Ben Sinnott

Getty Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott in 2023.

The Washington Commanders hit a home run in the 2024 NFL draft — as evidenced by straight As from almost every major media outlet for their nine picks, including LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels at No. 2 overall.

According to a post on SCOUTD’s X account, the Commanders landed the most players off their Top 50 NFL draft board with four — Daniels (No. 7), Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton (No. 27), Michigan cornerback Mike Sainristil (No. 49) and Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott (No. 50).

It’s the kind of talent infusion that propelled the team who landed the most Top 50 picks in 2023, the Detroit Lions, into the NFC Championship Game last season.

“The Lions’ success and value in the draft helped them to continue and turn things around in Detroit,” wrote Commander Country’s Kade Kimble. “Building a contender around Jared Goff and the rest of the roster. The Commanders could now be on the same path in terms of turning things around.”

How Many Rookies Could Start for Commanders?

All four of the rookies listed in SCOUTD’s Top 50 could end up starting for the Commanders this season, with Daniels the most likely to step right into the starting role.

Not a typical rookie, Daniels started 55 games across five college seasons at Arizona State and LSU and will turn 24 years old in December.

Because the Commanders had the worst defense in the NFL in 2023, it’s also a safe bet that Newton, the 2023 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year will get every opportunity to start. So will Sainristil, the unquestioned leader of the defense for Michigan’s College Football Playoff national championship team in 2023 and a first-team Associated Press All-American.

Sinnott might not start right away, but will have perhaps the most unique opportunity in the group of rookies to learn from a veteran — the Commanders signed three-time Pro Bowler and 11-year NFL veteran Zach Ertz to a one-year contract in March 2024.

Sinnott was selected in the second round (No. 52 overall) and could also see reps at fullback. He led Kansas State with 49 receptions for 676 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in 2023.

Last Year’s Draft Class Was … Not Good

For as historically good as the Commanders hope their 2024 draft class will be, the 2023 class could end up being historically just as bad.

None of Washington’ seven picks in the 2023 draft class developed into full-time starters as rookies, and 2024 might not be much different.

Washington’s first-round pick, Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes, had an especially rough go as a rookie. The No. 16 overall pick set the FBS record with six interceptions returned for touchdowns but was benched twice as a rookie and struggled with injuries.

Forbes got one of the ruder “Welcome to the NFL” moments in recent memory when the Commanders faced the Eagles in Week 4 and All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Brown torched the rookie for 9 receptions, 175 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.

Brown’s humiliation of Forbes included a $10,927 fine for taunting after one of the touchdowns.

“I think they took an experienced guy and did some things,” said Washington head coach Ron Rivera, who was fired immediately after going 4-13 in 2023. “They ran that bubble and go and (Forbes) guessed. You have to be disciplined. You have to read your keys and make your plays.”

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