Phidarian Mathis - Commanders DL
After practically missing his entire rookie campaign through injury, Phidarian Mathis came into training camp chomping at the bit. The hard yards in terms of rehabilitation concluded and the defensive lineman's focus shifted to carving out a prominent role for himself on a stacked Washington Commanders' elite front. Mission accomplished up to now.
Mathis is never going to unseat the two confirmed interior starters. Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are two established figures with exceptional credentials, but the former second-round selection offers a different dynamic that is allowing defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to get a little more creative.
The Commanders have been experimenting with a formidable five-man defensive front. Mathis acts as the nose tackle with Allen and Payne alongside him, leaving the pass-rushing tandem of Chase Young and Montez Sweat flying off the edge with additional space to do damage.
This should strike fear into the heart of every offensive line around the NFL. Mathis' brute functional strength is enough to clog up space for the more established performers alongside him, but one cannot ignore his own short-area explosiveness that could be a surprise some teams don't see coming.
More importantly for Mathis and the Commanders, there have been no further complications on the health front. Something that can hopefully continue into the 2023 season and way beyond for a player with immense promise.