Mike Sainristil tipped to make significant Commanders' impact in 2024

The second-round pick could have a big future ahead.
Mike Sainristil
Mike Sainristil / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

If the Washington Commanders want to make a bigger impression next season, they need their high-end draft picks to make immediate contributions. That's a lot to ask of first-year pros during their respective adjustments, but Adam Peters seems confident he's found the right characters capable of meeting this expectation.

Of course, the Commanders will go as far as Jayden Daniels takes them. The quarterback carries himself like a franchise presence, but he needs to have the sort of environment and supporting cast to flourish in Year 1 of his professional career.

Big things are also expected of Mike Sainristil. The Commanders took the feisty cornerback at No. 50 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft. Many analysts and former coaches believe Washington has a steal on its hands if the player transitions smoothly.

Mike Sainristil can help the Commanders progress in 2024

The Commanders will give Sainristil significant responsibilities straight away. He's expected to be the team's starting slot cornerback - a role in which he thrived during Michigan's memorable run to the college football national championship in 2023. It won't be nearly as easy against NFL-caliber opposition, but his skill set and work ethic give him a fighting chance.

Chris Trapasso from CBS Sports lent further weight to these claims. The analyst named Sainristil as a potential sleeper for the Commanders next season. This was thanks to his coverage capabilities and the potential to deploy his explosiveness in blitz packages within Dan Quinn's creative defensive scheme.

"The former receiver turned slot defending annoyance will be a welcomed addition to a Commanders secondary that only snagged eight interceptions all season in 2023, which tied for the third-lowest in football. Sainristil had six alone as captain on Michigan's national title-winning campaign, and tested like an elite-level athlete for the increasingly valuable slot corner spot at the combine. He will be a most frustrating element of Washington's defense for every offensive game plan and a portable piece for Quinn. With his smaller size, extreme explosiveness, and speed -- not to mention a blue-collar work ethic through blockers and through the whistle, Sainristil will be an instant asset as a blitzer. He generated a pressure on nearly 30% of his 38 pass-rushing snaps last season for the Wolverines."

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports

While tempering expectations around Sainristil would be prudent, it's hard to ignore the momentum surrounding the gifted defensive back. He's also in the best possible place to enhance his credentials thanks to the presence of Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr.

This does nothing to lessen the concerns surrounding Washington's outside coverage options. However, Sainristil's previous production could sure up the interior. It will also allow the Commanders to deploy Quan Martin in different alignments to maximize his outstanding athletic attributes.

Sainristil is exactly the sort of player Peters looked for throughout the offseason. He's experienced, plays with a competitive edge, and displays supreme leadership credentials. It won't be smooth sailing all the time, but the Commanders know his temperament can take the rough with the smooth and come out on the other end fighting.

Despite his 5-foot-9 stature, Sainristil is a giant between the white lines. Hopefully, he can build on his recently acquired momentum and help the Commanders get back among the contenders.