The Washington Commanders own the 16th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. There are many ways this can go, of course, but they do have a glaring need for their defensive secondary. Here we’ll look at the reasons why Devon Witherspoon would be a perfect fit for the Washington Commanders in the 2023 NFL Draft.
To strengthen their team, the Commanders should consider adding a cornerback to complement Kendall Fuller and Benjamin St-Juste. Although free agency has not exactly provided the best options, the draft boasts a deep pool of talented cornerbacks.
Prospects such as Joey Porter Jr. from Penn State and Christian Gonzalez from Oregon are highly regarded. However, Devon Witherspoon from Illinois should be on the Commanders’ radar as the ideal first-round pick. He is a standout player who was selected as a first-team AP All-America choice and had impressive stats last season. In fact, he had only 22 catches allowed, 206 yards surrendered, and no touchdowns. He also boasted 14 pass defenses out of 63 targets, according to Pro Football Focus.
If Porter and Gonzalez are not available at No. 16, the Commanders can and should pivot toward Witherspoon. Remember that he is far from a consolation prize. Some even consider him maybe the best of the bunch.
Let’s look at the reasons why Devon Witherspoon would be perfect for the Commanders.
1. Witherspoon fills a big need
In 2022, the Commanders had the fourth-best passing defense in the league. They allowed an average of only 191.3 yards per game. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and secondary coach Chris Harris deserve credit for getting the most out of a cornerback group that lacked top-tier talent. Unfortunately, Harris has since left the Commanders for the Tennessee Titans. This leaves them without his expertise in developing young cornerbacks.
Take note also that Kendall Fuller, who signed a four-year, $40 million deal, is heading into the final year of his contract. Meanwhile, Benjamin St-Juste is showing promise and developing well. However, Cameron Dantzler has yet to prove himself as anything more than a depth option. By selecting Devon Witherspoon in the draft, Washington can bolster their cornerback room and solidify their defense.
For sure, Witherspoon would fill a big need. He would likely be in the second unit, but he has the potential to be the team’s top CB by the end of the season.
2. He had a great Pro Day
During the scouting process, the Commanders had a key front office member keeping a close eye on Devon Witherspoon. That guy was Eric Stokes. He is the team’s senior director of player personnel and personally evaluated Witherspoon.
Due to a hamstring issue, Witherspoon could not participate in exercises at the NFL Combine. However, he hosted a private pro day on April 5th. That’s when he addressed any doubts NFL front offices had regarding his speed. In fact, he ran a 4.42 40. That’s crazy.
Witherspoon’s combination of instincts, physicality, and aggressive play style makes him an attractive prospect. We believe he has the potential to become a shutdown cornerback in the NFL. Additionally, his impressive ability to contribute in run defense only adds to his value and appeal as a first-round pick.
If Witherspoon is still available when the Commanders are on the clock, this is a no-brainer. They should not pass up the opportunity to select him. With their urgent need to find a capable cornerback to complement Fuller, St-Juste, and recent addition Dantzler Sr., Witherspoon could be the answer to their defensive needs.
Devon Witherspoon runs a 4.4s forty at his pro day
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 5, 2023
3. Great nose for the football
In every aspect, Witherspoon has an impressive ability to locate the football. He performs well in finding the ball when defending against individual opponents and by using his hands to intercept. He also has great skills in detecting the ball’s location when providing support in defending against running plays at the edge of the field. Witherspoon has earned a reputation this season for being a strong tackler due to his natural ability to quickly react and make plays on the ball carrier. With excellent tackling technique, he can make impactful hits and collisions. His ability to time his defensive maneuvers with the arrival of the ball is noteworthy as he can successfully interfere with the receiver’s catch attempt. It’s worth noting that Witherspoon has only been playing football since his junior year of high school. This means he still has a lot of potential for improvement as he becomes more involved in the game.
For us, there is little doubt that Witherspoon is a stronger defender in man coverage than in zone coverage, even though he performed well in both during his time at Illinois. Despite his smaller size, Witherspoon’s impressive hitting power is a testament to his technique and confidence. Witherspoon demonstrated this ability in college, but it may be challenging for him to maintain his performance level in the NFL unless he gains weight. If he cannot, he may be relegated to playing the nickel position. Nevertheless, nickel defenders are highly valued in the NFL, especially those who can tackle and play the run like Witherspoon.
Overall, Witherspoon’s play style, physical skills, and versatility make him an attractive prospect for the Commanders. However, the issue is whether Washington will allow him to play on the perimeter or if they will limit him to the slot due to his size. We believe he has the potential to be a successful perimeter defender and should be given the opportunity to play there first. With further refinement, he could excel in a man-heavy defensive system and eventually become a standout starter in Washington.
The post Why Devon Witherspoon would be perfect fit for Commanders in 2023 NFL Draft appeared first on ClutchPoints.