4 critical observations from Commanders HC Ron Rivera’s combine presser

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Ron Rivera
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Ron Rivera /
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(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Eric Bieniemy and Sam Howell /

Commanders will make Sam Howell earn QB1 spot

Even though the Washington Commanders plan to move Sam Howell atop their quarterback depth chart heading into OTAs, the position is far from guaranteed. Ron Rivera made that clear in no uncertain terms during his media availability at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Although Rivera was full of praise for Howell, he kept all options open. Whether that’s another signal-caller from the college ranks or a veteran in free agency is undecided, but competition is definitely coming for the one-time North Carolina standout in some shape or form.

"“He’s not our starter. He’s coming in as the QB1. He’ll get a great opportunity to be our starter. But we do want to find a veteran quarterback. We have Taylor Heinicke that’s a free agent. We’ve got to work through that as well. And we’ll see what happens from there.”"

This is laying down the gauntlet to Howell, who demonstrated growth in practice throughout the season and made a good impression during his only start against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 18. But there’s every chance further improvements can arrive once he gets to grips with Eric Bieniemy’s west coast system.

In an ideal world, Howell will win the job and thrive on a cheap deal that the organization can build around. If not, the Commanders will be coming up with a contingency plan or two in the event things don’t work out.