Could the Commanders become NFL's surprise package in 2024?

Things are looking up for the Commanders.
Dan Quinn
Dan Quinn / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It started with Adam Peters. Then it went to Dan Quinn, followed by Kliff Kingsbury and Joe Whitt Jr. That right there is a lot to deal with.

But then it went to Austin Ekeler, Frankie Luvu, Tyler Biadasz, Jeremy Chinn, and Michael Davis. Enough to make ears perk up. Yet the change in the Washington Commanders was still up for debate, and rightfully so. That changed when they went out and signed perennial All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner.

Now the Commanders have added Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels as their franchise quarterback. Peters also managed to acquire two projected first-round talents right behind him - Johnny Newton and Mike Sainristil - from a frantic Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Commanders can make impressive strides in 2024

Peters wasn't done. He went and drafted another bucket of picks such as Ben Sinnott and Jordan Magee. They have shown abilities on tape indicative of potential long-time NFL starters.

But is this all enough for the Commanders to become one of the league's surprise packages in 2024? In a word…yes.

This is not about 2025 or 2026 when the league begins to learn more about Daniels and Kingsbury. It's about 2024, a moment in time when the diverse set of players that have been brought together to create a new formula has not yet put any tendencies on tape for others to see.

The benefits of the proverbial unknown when it comes to a rare talent such as Daniels is there for all to see. There is evidence of dual-threat quarterbacks being found out for who they are, but when those guys hit the league for the first time, they hit the league hard and did some serious damage.

Players such as that are almost unstoppable at first. Daniels is among them. The only question beyond 2024 will be if he turns into Robert Griffin III - whose inability to go through his progressions became hampered - or whether he will turn into a Lamar Jackson, who continues to impress more as a passer than as a runner.

What's especially intriguing and exciting - and this could be huge - is the Commanders' backfield. Having brought in Ekeler, a better Antonio Gibson, Washington now has a prolific running back tandem. With the culture and requirement of character that the new management is proving themselves to hold players accountable to, Brian Robinson Jr. should fit this new mold perfectly.

Robinson could be the key to the offense's season. If he can get downhill and unleashed to run the ball like Eric Bieniemy didn't allow frequently enough, Daniels would become the primary beneficiary. If that happens, this offense could be very dangerous, especially if rookie tight end Sinnott proves capable of taking the starting job.

As for the defense, not only do they have playmakers, but the Commanders have a certain type of vicious intent that could impose themselves on opposing offenses. These defensive lynchpins also happen to be the best and most talented. Look at Washington's two starting defensive tackles. When Jonathan Allen is not in his head, they form the best, most aggressive duo in the NFL.

With two linebackers just the same behind them, followed by Emmanuel Forbes entering his second year, the potential Sainristil brings to the table, and the hard-hitting Darrick Forrest behind them - this defense could grow into something very good. But improvements must arrive quickly for those who vastly achieved under Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio last season.

If Daniels can come in and take the NFL by storm, the Commanders could bypass the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys as early as this year to snag a playoff birth when most people think that the rebuild will take two or three years to bear fruit. This is a best-case scenario, but one everyone in the franchise will be striving for after a memorable offseason of recruitment.

The Commanders could even win double-digit games this season. Although that might be pushing things despite the newfound optimism attached to this ambitious franchise.