The Washington Commanders weren’t expected to draft a quarterback in last week’s showcase, but the rumors were certainly floating leading up to the event.
Just days before the draft, Washington was linked to Malik Willis, who shockingly waited until Round 3 to hear his name called, Matt Corral, who also went in the third round, and Sam Howell, who somehow fell into the team’s lap with the first pick of the fifth round after they traded back.
If you’ve read up on draft grades and reviews, the Howell selection is widely regarded as the biggest steal of the seven-round event. Some analysts pegged it as the biggest steal of Day 3, but the point remains: the Commanders got great value in the North Carolina product.
It’s unclear what Howell’s ceiling is, but he could push to supplant Taylor Heinicke as the backup with an impressive camp and preseason.
Does the former Tar Heel have starting potential? It’s too early to tell, but he does have history working in his favor, as several QBs drafted in Round 4 or beyond went on to enjoy successful – in some cases, historic – careers.
Commanders: Best late-round QBs in NFL Draft history
Mark Brunell (Round 5)
Ironically enough, Brunell might be the greatest fifth-round quarterback in drafting history. He took home a Super Bowl ring as Drew Brees’ backup, but went to multiple Pro Bowls and led Jacksonville to the playoffs four times. The Jags never appeared in the Super Bowl with Brunell quarterbacking the offense, but they did reach the AFC Championship Game in 1996.
Brunell owns a 78-73 career record and retired as the Jags’ all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, fourth quarter comebacks, game-winning drives and second in passer rating for QBs who started at least 40 games for the franchise.
Not too shabby.
Dak Prescott/Kirk Cousins (Round 4)
We figured we’d lump Prescott and Cousins together. Though former division rivals in the NFC East, the two quarterbacks have endured eerily similar career paths, as both overachieved as fourth-round picks and were recipients of the franchise tag before inking mammoth contracts.
Cousins and Prescott also have a similar reputation. They excel during the regular season, but have had trouble rising to the occasion in the playoffs, where they’ve been two and three times, respectively. Believe it or not, they both own a 1-3 record in the tournament.
Despite their lack of playoff success, though, Cousins and Prescott are two of the most talented late-round QBs in recent draft history. Both are annual locks to eclipse 4,000 passing yards and 25-30 touchdowns with minimal turnovers and have a combined 98.65 career passer rating.