Commanders build around Sam Howell, rejuvenate the defense in 2024 NFL Mock Draft

Sam Howell has shown enough promise for the Commanders to stick by him this offseason. In today’s mock draft, Washington chooses to build up the roster around Howell.
Nov 5, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14)
Nov 5, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) / Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders committed to second-year quarterback Sam Howell before the 2023 regular season began. Rather than pursuing pricier options like Lamar Jackson or Aaron Rodgers, the franchise opted to add more pieces to the roster while allowing Howell a chance to prove his viability as a long-term starter behind center.

If Sam Howell Is QB1, What Can The Commanders Do To Improve The Roster?

So far, the North Carolina product has played well enough to keep the Commanders out of range to select a potential replacement. Instead, with their current draft position of No. 12 overall, Washington will likely stick with Howell for the 2024 campaign. That is unless the new ownership group feels frisky enough to make a substantial trade up the draft board next Spring.

In today’s mock draft, let’s take a look at the first option. With Howell showing enough promise to retain his starting gig, what can the front office do to make life easier for its young signal-caller? Thanks to the Montez Sweat and Chase Young trades, the Commanders have plenty of resources at their disposal to retool the roster.

However, although Washington has five selections within the top 100 picks, it also now has a gaping hole at the pass rusher position. The offensive line could use some reinforcements, as well. Without further ado, the Commanders are now on the clock…

Commanders Mock Draft: Replacing Chase Young And Montez Sweat

Round 1, No. 12 — Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Chase Young and Montez Sweat are out. Dallas Turner is in. The Commanders begin rebuilding the pass-rushing corps with the addition of Turner, a high-upside, natural-born quarterback hunter. The Alabama star flexes an unprecedented ability to pressure the passer, with several reps on tape that show him clowning his matchup.

Turner possesses an endless amount of pass-rushing moves, including impeccable hand usage and a blistering first step. His playing strength at the point of attack is still a concern, but if the Crimson Tide alum can become a more assertive run defender, he will blossom into a superstar sooner rather than later.

Round 2, No. 37 (via CHI) — Patrick Paul, OL, Houston

The offensive line is on pace to allow the most sacks in NFL history. No one can succeed with this type of turmoil upfront, not even the magical Sam Howell. To give the young quarterback a realistic shot at seizing the QB1 mantle long-term, his protection must improve. And it must improve immediately.

Patrick Paul, a long-time starter at Houston, is a plug-and-play option on Day 2 of this mock draft. Paul can play tackle or guard but profiles best on the outside. For Howell, he would finally have some time in the pocket, as the Cougar lineman is a premier pass blocker. It also helps the run game if Paul continues smoothing out his rough edges.

The Offensive Line Overhaul Continues In Round 2 Of Latest Mock Draft

Round 2, No. 43 — Sedrick Van Pran, Center, Georgia

Similar to Paul, Sedrick Van Pran has extensive starting experience at the collegiate level. The Georgia alum has started several games at center for the Bulldogs and is projected as the top-rated player at the position. The Commanders wisely invest heavily on the offensive line in this mock draft, with Paul and Van Pran slotting into the starting unit upon arrival to D.C.

Round 3, No. 78 — Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama

If one Alabama pass rusher is good, two is even better. After trading away Young and Sweat, the Commanders replace them in the offseason with two Crimson Tide standouts. While Turner possesses a considerably higher upside, Chris Braswell has opened eyes in his final campaign in Tuscaloosa.

Braswell is unblockable more often than not, utilizing his supreme athleticism and picturesque frame to terrorize offensive linemen all game long. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound defender will test off the charts at the NFL Draft Scouting Combine, but he still could slip down the board, similar to the fall that Rams’ rookie Byron Young witnessed in 2023. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Braswell have comparable success in Year 1.

A Quarterback For The Defense

Round 3, No. 100 (via SF) — Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State

Another player who should probably go higher than this, but will ultimately slide next April, is Ohio State leader Tommy Eichenberg. A reliable linebacker is hard to find on Sundays; a linebacker with the potential of Eichenberg is even tougher to track down.

The Buckeye standout won’t blow anyone away as a pure athlete, but his instincts and feel for the game are unrivaled by a majority of prospects in 2024. Eichenberg is always in the right place at the right time and can serve as the green dot player at the next level. For the Commanders, he would pair well with Jamin Davis in the middle of the unit.