Washington Commanders NFL Draft History — The Good And The Bad

It has been rough sledding for the Washington football franchise in recent years. Since 2000, the team has made five postseason appearances. Four of those have resulted in wild card losses while the fifth was a 2005 divisional loss.

Heading into the 2021 season, there was some buzz building as the team was coming off a wild card loss in which Washington went toe-to-toe with the eventual Super Bowl champions. Unable to overcome injuries and poor play, the 2021-2022 season ended in disappointment once more. 

The Commanders traded for quarterback Carson Wentz this offseason, which actually caused their Super Bowl 57 odds to dip. Yikes. There is some good news, however. Washington held on to picks No. 11 and No. 47, meaning there will be high-end talent available to address some of the holes on the roster.

The NFL Draft begins on Thursday night, and sports bettors can place bets on the selections at Maryland’s retail sportsbooks. Hopefully, Maryland sports betting apps will launch in time for the NFL regular season.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of Washington’s best and worst first-round draft picks since 2000.

More sports betting options coming: Two more Maryland retail sportsbooks receive sports betting licenses

Washington’s Best First-Round Draft Picks

Chris Samuels (2000) and Trent Williams (2010)

For the sake of brevity, I’m lumping two dominant, perennial Pro Bowl left tackles together here. Samuels played a decade for Washington and earned six Pro Bowl honors. In the nine seasons Williams suited up for the burgundy and gold, he made seven straight Pro Bowls. Although the end of his time with Washington was a bit rocky, the franchise nailed the pick.

Ryan Kerrigan (2011)

Incredibly consistent and productive, Kerrigan was an absolute force for eight straight seasons. The former Purdue Boilermaker is first in tackles for loss in franchise history by a massive margin. His 119 tackles for loss are 67 more than runner-up Andre Carter. He’s also the franchise leader in forced fumbles and is second all-time in sacks.

Sean Taylor (2004)

No “Best Of Washington” list is complete without a mention of Sean Taylor. Although he only played in 55 games for Washington, his impact was undeniable. There is no doubt Taylor was well on his way to being one of the best players of his generation before his tragic death.

Honorable mention: Brian Orakpo, Brandon Scherff

The ups and downs in Baltimore: Best and worst picks in Ravens NFL Draft history

Washington’s Worst First-Round Draft Picks

Robert Griffin III (2012)

We honestly could have an entire article on just the quarterbacks Washington has selected in the first round since 2000, but I’ll narrow my focus to the once-famed RG3. While Griffin had a fantastic rookie season in which he led Washington to its first playoff game in five years, we have to talk about the trade. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say we will likely never see another trade like the one that took place between the Rams and Washington. To move up from No. 6 to No. 2 in the 2012 draft, Washington sent its 2012 2nd round pick and future firsts in 2013 and 2014. That’s absolutely insane for a four-spot jump. RG3 was never the same after his major knee injury in the 2015 wild card game. The former Heisman winning standout started 20 more games after his rookie season due to a combination of mounting injuries and a drop in performance.

Josh Doctson (2016)

Following back-to-back 1,000-yard, double-digit touchdown seasons at TCU and an explosive combine performance, Josh Doctson had his name called with the 22nd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. All of the hype surrounding Doctson quickly flamed out, as Achilles injuries limited him to two games in his rookie year. The former Horned Frog was after his third season, through which he gained 1,100 yards.

LaRon Landry (2007)

A fan favorite to dog for his play, Landry never lived up to his draft capital of the sixth-overall selection Washington used on him in 2007. A physical specimen coming out of LSU, it just never fully came together. Landry compiled at least 85 tackles in three of his five seasons with Washington. It was never enough, however, and after eight games and 48 tackles in 2011, his time in the burgundy and gold came to an end.

AP Photo/Richard Lipski

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