4 emerging alphas on the Washington Commanders roster in 2024

These Commanders players are emerging alphas in 2024.
Sam Cosmi
Sam Cosmi / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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Daron Payne - Commanders DL

Daron Payne was an emerging alpha last season. The formidable defensive tackle enjoyed a standout 2022 campaign that resulted in his first Pro Bowl appearance. It was also enough for the Washington Commanders to pay him accordingly.

Payne got a bumper extension from the Commanders to prevent him from leaving in free agency last spring. This came with increased expectations, which he was unable to match as another campaign spiraled into oblivion under previous head coach Ron Rivera.

The former first-round pick didn't look like the same force. The Commanders' decision to trade edge-rushing tandem Montez Sweat and Chase Young before the deadline allowed opposing protection schemes to focus their attention on Payne and Jonathan Allen. Both flashed moments of quality, but it was nowhere near the level expected.

Payne notched four sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, and 13 pressures throughout the campaign. He missed 11.7 percent of his tackles and came under fire for not building on his 2022 efforts. However, all hope is not lost where the Alabama product is concerned just yet.

Dan Quinn and his coaching staff are now in charge. Payne stands to benefit greatly from their presence given the sensational athletic attributes at his disposal. The Commanders will be creative in his usage, operating him as a 4-3 defensive tackle or a 3-4 defensive end depending on the schematic alignment on any given down.

This is good news for the defensive lineman. Payne's made no secret of his desire to get back on track and remind the NFL why the Commanders shelled out major money to retain his services. Improving on-field consistency will help. Firmly establishing himself as a team alpha and leader of men will be another important element of his overall influence.

Quinn's had tremendous success throughout his career with players like Payne. Hopefully, this is a trend that will continue in 2024 and beyond.