The Washington Commanders season is off and running and the early indications are their 2022 draft class looks like a promising group. Amazingly enough, fifth-round quarterback Sam Howell might have the highest ceiling of the bunch, though Jahan Dotson might have something to say about that amid his scalding hot start.
That may go without saying given Howell plays the game’s most important position, but fifth-round picks rarely go on to become starters. The list of late-round QBs who’ve enjoyed transcendent careers is few and far between.
No one’s expecting Howell to enter such rarified air, but we wouldn’t rule out him becoming a starter somewhere down the road.
Who knows? If the Carson Wentz experiment goes up in flames, the 21-year-old could be in contention for the starting gig as soon as next year.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. The Howell hype train is chugging along after his exemplary preseason, but he still hasn’t played a regular-season game. No reason to jump to conclusions about his month-old career.
Everything we’ve seen from Howell suggests Washington got a steal in the former North Carolina star and two NFL scouts, who recently spoke with NFC East reporter Ralph Vacchiano of FOX Sports, echo that sentiment.
A pair of NFL scouts are bullish on Commanders QB Sam Howell.
Per Vacchiano, one scout called Howell one of the “steals of the draft” and believe several teams had a second-round grade on the rookie.
Perhaps one of those teams weren’t in need of a quarterback, because it was downright shocking to see Howell, a potential first-rounder at the onset of the pre-draft process, fall to the first pick of Round 5 and after fellow signal-callers Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis, Matt Corral and Bailey Zappe.
Here’s what the second scout said of Howell.
"“With his talent, he should have never lasted that long in the draft. That happens with quarterbacks. You don’t take them high if you don’t need them. But he was also inconsistent [in his final year at North Carolina]. There wasn’t a lot [of talent] around him, but the knock on him was that the tools were there, but he just didn’t look ready.”"
Those are fair critiques of Howell’s wonky final season in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heel’s offensive line was a turnstile and often had Howell running for his life. He also lost his top two receivers, Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome, and top two running backs, Michael Carter and Javonte Williams, to the draft.
Regression was bound to happen.
Was it Howell’s inconsistent junior year that cost him? Or did scouts have other questions? Whatever the case, the Commanders surely don’t care. They’re currently reaping the benefits and have one of the most compelling young quarterbacks in the league to groom and (potentially) develop into a starter.