Could the Washington Commanders' current freefall tempt the new regime to select a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft?
The Washington Commanders are in the midst of an extremely concerning run of results. It looked fairly promising after a 2-0 start, but things have spiraled after that and will likely result in Josh Harris' ownership group making the necessary changes to the team's infrastructure once their regular-season engagements conclude.
Looking at how things stand right now, the Commanders are set to pick No. 5 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. They are also blessed with an abundance of high-end capital after trading Montez Sweat and Chase Young before the deadline.
This is already leading to speculation about what the Commanders might do with their first-rounder. While quarterback Sam Howell seems to be growing encouragingly, a new coaching regime and front office might have a completely different opinion on how best to take the Commanders forward.
Commanders have plenty of options during the 2024 NFL Draft
Just how high could Washington be picking next spring? Looking at their schedule, it's hard to see where they'd be favored to triumph in any of their remaining five fixtures.
- Week 13: vs. Dolphins
- Week 15: at LA Rams
- Week 16: at NY Jets
- Week 17: vs. 49ers
- Week 18: vs. Cowboys
Perhaps the Jets if Aaron Rodgers doesn't play and their regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys - who might be locked into their playoff seed by then - represents the best chance to attain success. But a situation could emerge where the Commanders lose out and get a top-three selection as a result of yet another year that promised much and delivered very little.
This puts the Commanders in a conundrum. Do they move forward with Howell and provide the signal-caller with better pieces, or do they go for a shiny new toy in the form of someone like Caleb Williams or Drake Maye?
Nothing can be ruled out with Harris looking to stamp his mark on the franchise. It would be extremely harsh on Howell, who wouldn't be short of trade offers if the Commanders ended up going down this particular route.
Whether it's Williams, Maye, Howell, or someone else, the Commanders won't get better until they fix their offensive line. This is something Ron Rivera didn't accomplish with any real urgency throughout his tenure as head coach and final personnel decision-maker.
If the Commanders end up with the chance to draft Olumuyiwa Fashanu, they shouldn't hesitate. This is the most gifted left tackle prospect to emerge from the college ranks in a generation - someone who would represent a foundational piece from the moment he stepped onto the field.
Marvin Harrison Jr. is out of the question no matter how special the wide receiver might be. It's Fashanu or one of the aforementioned quarterbacks. Someone like Joe Alt - another premier blindside presence out of Notre Dame - could feature in the mix, but this seems to be the consensus.
If the Commanders draft Williams or Maye, then using their second-round picks on the offensive line and adding another prolific veteran in free agency is the play. That means passing up on Fashanu, who could be the answer at left tackle for a decade or more if he stays clear of injury.
One could argue Howell deserves the chance of a second season with a stronger offensive line and more consistency at the skill positions. There's merit around that - especially considering his fifth-round contract is counting just $1.07 million against the salary cap next season - but nothing is set in stone by any stretch.
If it was me. Draft Fashanu, build around Howell. Should this fall flat, then there promises to be another exciting group of quarterbacks emerging from the college ranks in 2025.
This is yet another fascinating dynamic for fans to monitor throughout the offseason. It promises to be one of the most dramatic periods in Washington's illustrious franchise history.