Khyree Jackson

Khyree Jackson

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University of Oregon cornerback Khyree Jackson.

It’s no secret the Washington Commanders are going to take a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

After that, it might be the other side of the ball that gets the most love.

ESPN’s Matt Miller has the Commanders slotted to take defensive players with three of their next four picks following the first round in his latest seven-round mock draft, beginning with Missouri defensive end Darius Robinson at No. 36 overall in the second round.

“Washington needs an impact defensive end who can take over games after trading away Montez Sweat and Chase Young at the 2023 trade deadline,” Miller wrote. “At 6-5 and 285 pounds, Robinson can rush from the edge or play inside. He had nine sacks in his breakout 2023 season.”

Commanders Need Help Almost Everywhere on Defense

The Commanders brought in Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator and former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn to replace Ron Rivera in 2024, so it’s no surprise that defense will be at the forefront in the draft.

The Athletic listed edge rushers and cornerbacks among the Commanders’ biggest needs heading into the 2024 draft and Miller has Washington filling those needs with Robinson and its first two picks of the third round; Penn State defensive end Adisa Isaac (No. 67 overall) and 6-foot-4, 195-pound Oregon cornerback Khyree Jackson (No. 78 overall).

Isaac almost doubled his sack total from 2022 to 2023 with 7.5 sacks on the way to being named All-Big Ten. Jackson started his college career at Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College then played two seasons at Alabama before transferring to Oregon for his final season, where he was an All-Pac-12 selection in 2023.

“Last year, the Commanders drafted an undersized corner in Emmanuel Forbes,” Miller wrote. “This year, I love the idea of them getting a supersized DB in the 6-4 Jackson.”

Washington’s Defensive Picks Have Missed Big

Washington has selected a defensive player in the first round four of the last five years and have registered some pretty significant misses in that stretch.

Washington selected Forbes out of Mississippi State with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft despite Forbes checking in at 6-foot and just 166 pounds at the NFL combine. That decision seemed to implode early on when Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown torched the rookie for 6 catches, 147 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 4.

Forbes was benched, returned to the lineup, then was benched again as the Commanders finished the season 4-13 and finished last in the NFL in total defense (388.9 yards) and scoring defense (30.5 points). Forbes also missed two games with an elbow injury.

Still, Quinn spoke positively about Forbes at the NFL’s annual league meetings in March.

“I did a lot of work on Forbes coming from the draft before that,” Quinn said. “The number one thing that stood out was the ball skills and the ability to go take the ball (and) eliminate it. When you have that kind of rare ball skills and return ability with it, that’s his superpower. That’s I think what makes him so unique.”

Washington’s 2021 first-round pick, linebacker Jamin Davis, missed the last four games of 2023 with an injury after leading the team with 104 tackles in 2022.

Tony Adame covers the NFL for, with a focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders and Cincinnati Bengals. A veteran sports writer and editor since 2004, his work has been featured at Stadium Talk, Yardbarker, NW Florida Daily News and Pensacola News Journal. More about Tony Adame

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