As the end of the 2022-23 NFL season draws ever closer, so does April’s NFL Draft. Of course, teams don’t wait until the end of the season to start scouting. They have been watching their target players for the entire year and even before then. While fans may never know exactly what their favorite teams are planning, insight from draft analysts like Mel Kiper Jr. can provide Washington Commanders fans an good idea of what makes sense.

Kiper is one of the top draft analysts in the game, and has been for decades now. Fans eagerly anticipate his mock drafts every offseason, and they always get people talking. Naturally, when he dropped his first 2023 mock draft on Wednesday, fans were buzzing.

The Washington Commanders have the honor of picking in the exact middle of the first round this year. After finishing 8-8-1 and missing the playoffs for the second straight year, Washington earned the 16th pick in the draft. The Commanders have a few holes to fill before they can think about the playoffs, and filling those holes starts with this pick.

But what are those holes, and what should Washington do with that pick? Let’s break down Kiper’s answer to this questions.

Washington Commanders Pick 16: Broderick Jones, offensive tackle, Georgia

With the 16th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Kiper has Washington taking Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones. While the Commanders have had quarterback issues since Kirk Cousins left, Kiper elected not to give them that quarterback. Instead, he opts to give them some much-needed help along the offensive line.

“No matter who is playing quarterback, though, they have to improve along the offensive line,” Kiper wrote. “Jones is a 310-pound mauler who didn’t allow a single sack as the Bulldogs’ left tackle in 2022. I wouldn’t be shocked if he went in the top 10.”

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So first off, why didn’t Kiper pick a quarterback for Washington here? Well, he already projected C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson to go in the top 10, so there aren’t any quarterbacks with a first-round grade left. Additionally, he also suggested that the team could bring in a veteran this offseason to compete for the starting job.

“Here’s yet another team with quarterback issues, as the Commanders traded for Carson Wentz last offseason (which cost them their third-rounder this year) but turned back to Taylor Heinicke down the stretch,” Kiper wrote. “Neither is likely to be their Week 1 starter; I wonder whether they will be players in the veteran-signal-caller market and bring in someone to compete with Sam Howell.”

Additionally, Kiper already has Peter Skoronski and Paris Johnson Jr., the top two offensive tackles in the class, going earlier in the first round as well. This means that Jones is the highest-rated offensive tackle remaining at this point in the draft. That may sound like the Commanders are just getting a consolation prize, but that’s far from the case.

As Kiper stated, Jones didn’t allow a single sack this season, his first as Georgia’s starting left tackle. Furthermore, he only allowed six total pressures and was very effective in the run game too. In all, he earned an 84.2 pass-blocking grade and a 78.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus this season.

The offensive line has been a problem for a few years now in Washington. The Commanders have allowed at least 40 sacks every season since 2016, when they allowed just 23. The line also doesn’t have a ton of talent, especially after losing Brandon Scherff last offseason.

Whether it’s Sam Howell or anyone else under center next season, Washington needs to protect its signal-caller at all costs. Drafting Jones would give the Commanders a great push towards accomplishing that goal.