The 2021 NFL playoffs have officially come and gone, meaning all 32 teams are now in offseason mode and focused on how to better their respective rosters.
Although many teams are beginning to focus more on free agency, as it's just a couple of weeks from starting, the 2022 NFL Draft is right around the corner just over two months away.
For the Washington Commanders, finding talent on both sides of the football that can contribute on Day 1 is vital. Washington received great contributions from its 2020 rookie class, but the franchise is still waiting on many of the 2021 draftees to find their stride.
Of course, Washington is still looking for its franchise quarterback. Head coach Ron Rivera has gone on the record to say the franchise will make a big swing at the position. So, will that happen in free agency, via trade or the draft?
With many different options on the table, what direction will Washington go with its first-round pick? Here's who draft experts believe the Commanders will select 11th overall...
Todd McShay, ESPN: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Reasoning: "Washington has a team name, and now it needs a quarterback. Perhaps the Commanders trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. Perhaps they get into the Jameis Winston mix in free agency. But if nothing comes along on those fronts, they'd be happy to have the entire QB class available to them at No. 11. (The last time zero QBs went in the top 10 was 2013.) I personally have Liberty's Malik Willis slightly ahead of Pickett, but the Pitt signal-caller is more NFL ready, and it's more likely he's the first QB off the board in April. Pickett reads the field well, has good touch and timing on his throws and shows sneaky pocket mobility. I'd be intrigued to see a competition between him and Taylor Heinicke in camp, and if Heinicke wins the job, he can keep the seat warm while Pickett gets acclimated to the NFL."
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network: Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M
Reasoning: "The Commanders could lose Brandon Scherff in free agency and Green would be a plug-and-play replacement."
Ryan Wilson, CBS: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Reasoning: "Taylor Heinicke was good for much of the '21 season but you'd have to imagine Washington will think long and hard about a QB, especially if they're picking this high."
Chad Reuter, NFL.com: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Reasoning: "Washington selects Corral to be the team's future at the position. The Ole Miss product's arm strength and athleticism give him a chance to become an excellent NFL QB."
Austin Gayle, Pro Football Focus: Trade two first-rounders, one second-rounder to Seattle for QB Russell Wilson
Reasoning: "If the rumors mount to results and Seattle does pull the trigger on a Russell Wilson trade, Washington is a realistic landing spot for his services. The Commanders shouldn’t consider themselves in rebuild mode with a roster chock full of talent at multiple premium positions. That’s not to say they fit into the tried trope that is “being a quarterback away,” but they’re closer than a lot of other quarterback-needy teams and should view a trade for Wilson as the shorter path to a Super Bowl than drafting a rookie signal-caller at No. 11 overall."
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Reasoning: "Ron Rivera found some good success attaching himself to another former Auburn quarterback, Cam Newton, more than a decade ago with the Panthers. Willis is another big-armed and athletic passer in a more compact but Russell Wilson-like well-built package. He stood as the best QB at the Senior Bowl, showing his small-school transfer only raised his massive game. He will fit well in Scott Turner's offense."
Damian Parson, The Draft Network: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Reasoning: "Taylor Heinicke was been serviceable, but he caps Washington’s offense. Kenny Pickett will be hard to pass up with Willis off the board. Pickett is a leader with good accuracy and ball placement—he can create second-reaction opportunities with his legs. He would have a nice core to lean on with Terry McLaurin, Dyami Brown, and Antonio Gibson."
Walter Cherepinsky, WalterFootball.com: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Reasoning: "The [Commanders] were expected to sport one of the top defenses in the NFL in 2021, but that never happened because the secondary was a mess. Their linebacking corps was a total disaster as well. The very physically gifted Kyle Hamilton showed lots of promise in his freshman year. However, teams question if he'll play safety or linebacker in the NFL. As it so happens, the Redskins need help at both positions."
Nick Baumgardner, The Athletic: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Reasoning: "We’ll see who’s considered a QB1 after the combine and whether any candidate is first-round worthy. Washington, like Denver, needs a quarterback to begin to change its trajectory. Willis’ performance at the Senior Bowl was encouraging. The combine is a chance for Washington to see a lot more."