Why the Commanders are likely to ‘stick and pick’ at No. 2 in the NFL draft

Why the Commanders are likely to ‘stick and pick’ at No. 2 in the NFL draft

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 0

ORLANDO — Even though Washington Commanders General Manager Adam Peters keeps insisting all options are on the table with the draft’s No. 2 pick, rival executives are skeptical he will do anything but “stick and pick” the best quarterback available.

Four people with knowledge of the league’s inner workings said they would be very surprised if Peters traded down.

“Why would you when you have a chance to draft a franchise quarterback?” one of those people said.

In 2017, two of those people pointed out, the San Francisco 49ers had the No. 2 pick and needed a quarterback, but they passed on the top of the class, including Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. They started the season 0-9, traded for Jimmy Garoppolo and — even though they still built a talented team in the long run — ended up looking for a franchise quarterback for years. It’s a search that Peters, a former 49ers executive, probably wants to avoid reliving.

Ultimately, pretty much everyone at this week’s owners meetings acknowledged they were making educated guesses about Washington’s plan. Peters has remained tight-lipped and poker-faced, and on Monday he said the team is still “far from our answer.” Peters and Coach Dan Quinn will attend pro days for LSU’s Jayden Daniels on Wednesday and North Carolina’s Drake Maye on Thursday, then will probably host all of the top quarterbacks for visits.

“I don’t think anyone in here knows exactly what Washington is going to do,” New England Patriots Coach Jerod Mayo said this week. “I think everyone knows what Chicago is going to do [with the first pick]. But the rest of it honestly is just up in the air.”

“If somebody thinks they know [what we’ll do], they’ll have to fill me in,” Quinn joked, adding that he hasn’t even finished watching all the quarterback tape.

If Peters does trade down, a person with another team said, he almost certainly would stay in range for a top quarterback — so probably no further than No. 4 or No. 5. Peters would have to be confident that Maye and Daniels, the consensus top prospects behind Caleb Williams, wouldn’t become stars, because he’s under great pressure to find the best guy.

“We can have a big impact if we make the right selection,” managing partner Josh Harris said.

The Commanders are getting more serious about a new stadium. The team is creating “site plans” for D.C., Maryland and Virginia and having “deep discussions” with Maryland, Harris said. He didn’t give a timeline for a decision and pointed out that parts of this process are out of the team’s control. The Senate still needs to approve the bill that would make the RFK Stadium site a realistic option.

In February, the House passed the RFK bill, and on Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called it “a very positive development.”

“We can have another alternative [site] that will allow us to get the kind of stadium in our nation’s capital that is warranted, in my view,” he added.

Harris is closely watching the effort to move the Capitals and Wizards to Virginia. “Clearly, what happens there could have implications” for the Commanders’ stadium search, he said, meaning it probably would be difficult for one jurisdiction to land both entities.

The Commanders wouldn’t begin negotiating with D.C. until it gains more control over the RFK site and resolves the Wizards and Capitals situation, he added.

Team president Jason Wright said all options are on the table to replace FedEx as the stadium’s naming-rights partner. The team would like to lock in a long-term partner for the current stadium and the next one but is open to a shorter deal. Wright said any agreement would have to be done by “early summer,” probably June, to get signage in place for this season.

“This [ownership] group, they’ve got investment needs,” Wright said. “There are things that we really want to be able to provide from the business to these guys — whether it’s stuff around the practice facility, the growth of the data analytics capabilities, all of these things that a lucrative business is able to provide for the franchise. The onus is on us [as the business staff] and the fans and the sponsors and everybody to together invest in this team.”

Will defensive tackle Jonathan Allen stay in Washington? “We are not interested in trading him,” Peters said.

In December, Allen told 106.7 the Fan that he had “1,000 percent” thought about playing elsewhere and didn’t want to endure another rebuild.

Harris did not like the team’s F-minus grades on the NFLPA’s team report card. “I’m not an F-minus guy,” he said.

Harris said the Commanders already have poured millions into upgrading the stadium and player experience and have more investments planned for the playing surface, locker room and bathrooms.

Why did Harris sit in on quarterback interviews at the NFL combine? “I had never been to a combine, right?” he said. “Our [ownership] group came less than a year ago, and obviously we have the number two pick, and I felt that it was important to just see how it operated. … It was highly educational for me. I’m glad I did it.”

Quinn called trading Sam Howell to Seattle a rare “win-win” for the team and the player. Peters and Quinn complimented Howell’s toughness but noted trading him became realistic after signing Marcus Mariota.

Peters spoke at greater length about the decision to sign Mariota: “Obviously he’s been in the league a long time. He’s won a lot of games. He’s won playoff games. He has a great relationship with [assistant head coach and offensive pass game coordinator] Brian Johnson, who put in a great word for him. And so understanding what he’s all about and the type of person he’d be in that room supporting whoever else is in that room and the fact that he’s still really good. He’s athletic, he can throw it, he’s smart, and he’s got familiarity with what we do.”

Peters also said he wants to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, which means the top draft pick, Mariota, Jake Fromm and one more — maybe a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent.

After a free agency flurry, one of the team’s biggest needs left is left tackle. Peters said he would be comfortable starting swing tackles Cornelius Lucas or Trent Scott, but that seems unlikely.

Offensive tackle is considered one of the best positions in the draft; NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah has eight in his top 50 prospects. Washington probably will target a tackle with one of its top picks.

The Commanders’ offseason program begins Monday. Over the next month, Quinn said, he’ll split his days in half, working with current players until about 1 p.m. and then spending afternoons preparing for the draft.

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