Will the Washington Commanders draft a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft? The question thousands of fans asked themselves before Thursday night. And if they did draft one, how high would they reach, if at all?
Rumored to be in the mix for Malik Willis and Matt Corral leading up to the draft, Washington wound up with Sam Howell, using the first pick of the fifth round (No. 144 overall) on the former North Carolina standout.
The pick is widely viewed as one of the steals of the draft, and rightly so, as Howell had No. 1 overall buzz once upon a time. Even after his final season for the Tar Heels in 2021, some analysts believed he could go in the first round.
There’s obviously a reason Howell slipped until the fifth, but his bruising running ability and exquisite touch on throws beyond the numbers make him one of the most intriguing additions of the Commanders’ seven other selections.
The buzz surrounding Howell is tangible right now, so let’s highlight some major observations from the seemingly slam-dunk pick.
3 observations from the Commanders’ selection of Sam Howell
3. Commanders could still add new QB in 2023
An underrated luxury of Washington drafting Howell?
It gives them the requisite flexibility to add a new quarterback in 2023 if things go awry with Carson Wentz. As a fifth-round pick, there’s no pressure for Howell to take the starting job at any point. If he manages to supplant Wentz or assume the job due to injury or otherwise, anything after that is gravy.
While Howell becoming the long-term starter is the dream, everyone’s expectation is he becomes a reliable backup. Taylor Heinicke currently has that job on lockdown, but his arm talent pales in comparison to that of the UNC product.
Though Howell has a beautiful deep ball and legit dual-threat ability (828 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021, he needs to work on his pocket awareness and accuracy on anticipation throws before he can become a regular starter.
Assuming Howell needs a year or two to refine those mechanics, the Commanders could justify adding a new QB next year if the Wentz experiment goes up in flames. That’s the beauty of taking a high-upside quarterback in Round 5.
There’s no risk involved and nobody’s feeling will get hurt if team doesn’t view Howell as the starter and pivots to an alternative option next offseason. If that scenario manifests itself, he’d be a pretty incredible relief option off the bench.