The Washington Commanders were long expected to draft a quarterback this year. The only question was when they’d take one.
The Carson Wentz trade admittedly took them out of the running for one of the top prospects, but that might go down as a blessing in disguise given it helped them net Sam Howell in Round 5 and none of this year’s top QBs look special.
Of course, Howell was oft-mentioned with Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, Matt Corral and Malik Willis throughout the pre-draft process. For whatever reason — perhaps a combination of his size and struggles in the intermediate passing game — the former UNC star slipped until the first pick of Round 5.
It’s unclear what Howell’s ceiling is as an NFL quarterback. For now, he’s operating as Washington’s third-stringer, but he’s impressed (in moments) throughout training camp, including the team’s Saturday practice at FedEx Field.
The rookie’s signature moment came during 1-on-1 drills between cornerbacks and receivers when he dropped an absolute dime that traveled 50 yards in the air and hit his receiver (Kelvin Harmon?) in stride for the touchdown.
Commanders rookie QB Sam Howell showed off his arm strength in front of fans at FedEx Field.
What a time for Howell to uncork his best pass of camp, right? This throw should get Commanders fans excited for the future if Howell can polish the rough edges of his game; footwork, touch, timing, getting rid of the ball and learning just how much better NFL defensive backs are relative to college.
There are zero questions about Howell’s arm strength, however, which is undoubtedly the strongest of the 2022 quarterback class. In fact, his “throw power” tied Aaron Rodgers (!) for eighth among quarterbacks in Madden 23.
There’s obviously more that goes into quarterbacking than arm strength, but Howell’s upside as a prospect is undeniable and it’s largely due to that howitzer right arm.
A raw prospect, Howell won’t be rushed through his development process and Wentz and Taylor Heinicke will be feeding him advice along the way.
That should help the former Tar Heel familiarize himself with the playbook and expedite the process of learning to go through his reads. He’ll need as many reps as possible for that, but the upcoming preseason slate will serve as a litmus test in regard to how far he has to go in his development.
Until then, we’ll be watching this highlight on a loop. Do not disturb.