What Is The Washington Commanders Biggest Need Following NFL Draft?


The Washington Commanders filled nine position spots with their nine picks in the NFL Draft ensuring to spread the ability to bring fresh talent into important roles as much as possible.

While they didn’t land a left tackle early in the draft the way many thought they might the Commanders took great strides toward resettling the foundation of their roster for 2024 and the future to come.

One position Washington didn’t address in the draft was outside at the cornerback position. While general manager Adam Peters took two defensive backs during the weekend neither of them is projected to play a role on the perimeter, and that’s where Ben Standig of The Athletic said on a recent episode of Locked On Commanders – and in a recent article for the popular sports new site – the team’s biggest need might still reside.

Jan 7, 2024; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Commanders cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (13) runs

“They have Emmanuel Forbes and they have Benjamin St-Juste, they have Mike Davis who they signed in free agency, they have (Mike) Sainristil who they just drafted, and then you’ve got your Christian Holmes’s of the world,” Standig said. “I think the thing for me is how much is the new coaching staff going to improve these guys? Forbes obviously had a really rough rookie year, St-Juste at best plateaued, if not maybe regressed a little bit, but I think I really do give the secondary a bit of a pass because of the coaching situation.”

In 2022 St-Juste started the year as a nickel cornerback playing inside while veterans Kendall Fuller and William Jackson III manned the outside spots. After Jackson was benched and subsequently traded, however, St-Juste moved outside where most felt he best fit defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s system and showed tremendous growth.

When defensive backs coach Chris Harris departed in the 2023 offseason to become the passing game coordinator and cornerbacks coach for the Tennessee Titans the Commanders promoted assistant defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer to take his place.

Vieselmeyer didn’t have a ton of NFL experience and it was the first time he was the primary position group coach at the pro level. To say it didn’t go well would be an understatement and he was dismissed along with Del Rio following the Washington loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

So now the focus shifts to the new coaching staff, led by defensive coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. and head coach Dan Quinn.

“Whitt Jr., the defensive coordinator, is a secondary guy,” Standig continued. “Their passing game coordinator (coach Jason Simmons) is a secondary guy. Then they actually have a secondary coach (Tommy Donatell). So they have a lot of pieces now, not to mention Dan Quinn himself….I am sort of assuming that we’re going to see better versions of Forbes…and St Juice, is he inside? Is he outside? Clearly, he’s going to be outside now with what they’ve done here with drafting Sainristil, but it’s a need…(and) I’m curious to see if they’re going to get more out of these guys.”

Something else the drafting of Sainristil presumably does is permanently move second-year player Quan Martin to safety. When he was drafted last year Martin played a bit of nickel and safety both, but looked the most polished as a rookie when playing in the deeper part of the secondary.

It would appear that’s where the team will put him this season while they work through coaching and mentoring to try and improve a once promising unit that ultimately faltered as the previous staff neared the end of their run with the Commanders.

Stick with CommanderGameday for more coverage of the Washington Commanders throughout the 2024 NFL Draft.

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