David Aldridge: It's fair to start questioning Commanders' talent evaluators


The struggles of linebacker Jamin Davis are shining a spotlight on perhaps a much larger and more concerning issue for the Commanders organization.

While Davis, the 19th overall pick for Washington in 2021, is but one concerning draft pick, there are others, too, under a front office run by head coach Ron Rivera himself alongside GM Martin Mayhew and VP of football/player personnel Marty Hurney.

While there's still plenty of time for Davis to turn it around — and indeed he has, to some degree, with a sack and seven tackles through two games this season — Washington's misses in the draft are beginning to pile up.

This prompted 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier to consult David Aldridge, an elder statesman in sports media, about when would be an appropriate time to question this front office as talent evaluators.

"How much longer until we can start having a real conversation about Rivera as a talent evaluator, the Marties?" Paulsen asked, citing Davis and one of the Commanders' top free agent signings. "William Jackson III, they paid like an elite corner. He can't cover a bed if he was a fitted sheet. Like what are we doing here?"

"I mean it's fair. And you can throw Dyami Brown in there, too," Aldridge said. "I mean it's fair. Those are fair questions. You can fairly say they're not putting 19, 20 down on the blackjack table every time, right? I mean there's a lot of misses there. There's a lot of misses there. Sam Cosmi looks like he's decent. Jahan Dotson certainly looks like he's gonna be a good player. So there have been some successes too. But, it's fair. It's fair to say that they have been hit-and-miss in the personnel department."

"Can I say this too? Because I want to get your reaction to this," Paulsen interjected. "My philosophy is the way they operate, you can't miss in the first round. Because they're this draft-centric model. They don't want to spend in free agency. For going on basically two offseasons, they haven't."

"And so if you look at it, really," he continued, "Jackson other than Wentz is the biggest guy they've spent on. They basically didn't spend money other than Wentz this offseason. They say we're about the draft, not free agency. Those types of teams can't miss at No. 19, then."

"Nobody can miss in the first round, Grant. No NFL team can consistently miss in the first round and be good," Aldridge said. "You just can't. First- and second-round picks are too valuable in the NFL. They have to be contributors. And they have missed some. More in the middle rounds than high, but they have missed some high, too."

"Green Bay's missed a lot in the first two or three rounds," Aldridge cited as an example. "They've spent the last 20 years doing nothing but taking defensive players in the first round and they have missed A LOT on first-round and second-round picks defensively. But, they've made up for it. They signed Preston Smith. They signed [linebacker De'Vondre] Campbell off the scrap heap last year. They signed a cornerback who nobody wanted, who wound up being a Pro Bowler. You know what I mean?"

"So they make up for it with really good free agent signings," he said. "And Washington has not made up for it with really good free agent signings. So there is a difference there, but it's at that end. Not so much at the draft end, because everybody misses from time to time. Now, they miss more than they can because they're not talented enough. They don't have Aaron Rodgers playing quarterback. They're not talented enough to overcome the misses."