Phidarian Mathis - Commanders DL
When the Washington Commanders selected another defensive lineman early in the 2022 NFL Draft, it was seen as a luxury or an insurance policy if Daron Payne didn't rise to the occasion during a contract year. Phidarian Mathis had the talent, but a devastating injury just a few snaps into Week 1 needed significant rehabilitation and ended his rookie campaign almost before it began.
Mathis worked incredibly hard to make a full return to health. The Commanders are bringing him along gradually this offseason, but expect defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to increase his workload when things get more physical at training camp.
This is something Mathis should be relishing. The former Alabama star looks eager to make up for some lost time - although it might be from a key depth position given the Commanders have Payne and Jonathan Allen manning the defensive line interior.
That said, having a player with Mathis' unique skill set opens things up for Del Rio even further. With pass-rusher Chase Young also returning from injury, Washington's front has the potential to be special in 2023 and perhaps even emerge as the NFL's best if there are no further problems on the health front.
It might take Mathis time to get his true football legs back after being out of pads for so long. But after that, opposing offensive linemen better watch out.