Commanders take Alabama DL Mathis, RB Robinson in NFL draft

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — The second night of the NFL draft had a heavy Alabama flavor for the Washington Commanders.

Washington selected defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis in the second round and running back Brian Robinson Jr. in the third on Friday. Mathis is the third Alabama defensive lineman the team has drafted over the past six years.

Mathis joins Crimson Tide products Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne on the roster. Mathis and Payne overlapped in...

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ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — The second night of the NFL draft had a heavy Alabama flavor for the Washington Commanders.

Washington selected defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis in the second round and running back Brian Robinson Jr. in the third on Friday. Mathis is the third Alabama defensive lineman the team has drafted over the past six years.

Mathis joins Crimson Tide products Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne on the roster. Mathis and Payne overlapped in Tuscaloosa and are in touch regularly.

“That’s a blessing. They’re my big bros,” Mathis said. “I can’t wait to get around those guys, just learn from them and also just help them out.”

But the Commanders taking Mathis with the 47th pick opens up the possibility of trading Payne before he becomes a free agent following the 2022 season. A report surfaced earlier this week they would not extend Payne like they did with Allen last summer and have made other teams aware the 2018 first-round pick is available in a potential trade.

Mathis nevertheless gives the Commanders interior defensive line depth after losing Tim Settle in free agency and cutting Matt Ioannidis in a salary cap-saving move. He had 53 tackles and nine sacks in his senior season at Alabama.

Coach Ron Rivera said Thursday two main goals for the draft were giving new quarterback Carson Wentz more offensive weapons and some protection, while acknowledging there were also some needs on defense.

Selecting Robinson with the 98th pick, acquired from New Orleans when the Commanders moved down from 11th to 16th in the first round to take Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson, further checks the first box. Robinson, like Dotson and Mathis, played four years of college football and could be ready to contribute right away after rushing for 1,343 yards and four touchdowns during his senior season at Alabama.

Dotson, a speedy, sure-handed catcher provides Wentz another dynamic option to go along with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel in the passing game.

Help on the offensive line and a safety are the team’s outstanding needs. The Saints trade gave the Commanders an extra fourth-round pick, 120th overall, one of five selections Saturday before the draft wraps up.

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