Who is the Commanders most underrated player heading into 2023 season?
By Dean Jones
Who did Pro Football Focus tab as the Washington Commanders' most underrated player heading into a monumental 2023 season for the franchise?
As the Washington Commanders get set to join rookies and veterans together for the start of OTAs later this month, one thing continues to distract above all else. But the recent statements from Josh Harris' group and Dan Snyder indicate things might be straightforward from here on out regarding the exclusive $6.05 billion franchise sale.
Once confirmed, this is going to pile on the pressure for almost everyone in the building. The Commanders have a tough-looking schedule to overcome in 2023, but head coach Ron Rivera seems confident in his roster providing everything goes well throughout the upcoming preparation period.
It needs to be a collective effort within a competitive NFC East that harbors at least one legitimate Super Bowl contender. This means the high-profile names must step up and those going relatively under the radar must also make their presences felt for the Commanders to stand any chance of earning a playoff spot.
Kamren Curl named Commanders most underrated player
When examining the most underrated player on every NFL team for a recent feature, William Moy from Pro Football Focus highlighted Kamren Curl as the man that doesn't get nearly enough credit where the Commanders are concerned. Looking at the gifted defensive back's upward trajectory, it's hard to argue.
"Out of 63 safeties who saw at least 700 snaps last season, nobody had a higher overall grade than Curl, who was one of two safeties to finish the year with both a run defense (80.5) and coverage grade (80.8) north of 80.0. Curl was a seventh-round pick back in 2020 and has now finished each of his first three seasons with at least 700 defensive snaps played with an overall grade of at least 68.0."- Kamren Curl, Pro Football Focus
Curl's story is an inspirational one. The Commanders took a flier on the safety with a seventh-round selection and it didn't take long for the player to begin repaying their faith.
The former Arkansas standout has been a valuable starter over the last three years. Curl took his game to completely new heights in 2022, forming a productive partnership with Darrick Forrest that the Commanders can count on long-term.
There could be even more to come from Curl heading into a contract year. Once the new ownership group takes over, one of their first orders of business should be working out an extension with the player before Week 1.
If the Commanders wait and Curl flourishes next season as expected, it only adds further dollars to his demands. Something those in power could do without given that Montez Sweat and Chase Young also have expiring contracts next spring.
The Commanders should rely heavily on Curl in 2023. They aren't blessed with the greatest strength at the defensive second level, so having a willing tackler that provides supreme aggression on an every-down basis is a superb asset for defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to utilize.
In truth, the defense isn't Washington's biggest concern. Rivera knows that this unit will be among the league's most impressive - especially if first-round pick Emmanuel Forbes becomes a true shutdown cornerback - but the offense must improve under Eric Bieniemy for confidence to increase.
Curl has the world at his feet entering the new campaign. If he takes another leap forward and also emerges into one of the locker room leaders, then paying him the going rate is an easy decision.
It will also be the last time Curl features on any underrated list again.