PFF makes outrageous choice for Commanders most underrated player

This took some explaining...
Andrew Wylie
Andrew Wylie / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

There wasn't much to legitimately cheer where the Washington Commanders were concerned last season. Ron Rivera's make-or-break campaign started well enough at 2-0, but it descended into abject failure once again and he paid with his job.

Very few Commanders players could be classed as underrated as a result. Only a select few met even modest expectations. Most completely fluffed their lines, leaving Josh Harris' ownership group with no option but to adopt the hard reset they'd been planning for some time.

Andrew Wylie named Commanders most underrated player by PFF

While it was slim pickings for Zoltán Buday from Pro Football Focus when it came to choosing his most underrated player on the Commanders, the analyst's eventual conclusion was bizarre. After much deliberation, he went with veteran right tackle Andrew Wylie, whom he believes bounced back from some early jitters over the second half of 2023.

"[Andrew] Wylie came over from Kansas City with offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to play right tackle for the Commanders. Although he gave up a sack in each of his first four games with Washington, Wylie got better as the season went on and eventually earned a 69.2 PFF overall grade — a career-high mark for him on his way to ranking 16th among right tackles."

Wylie might be a scapegoat to many after failing to impose himself fully, but calling him underrated seems a little far-fetched. The veteran is being paid handsomely for his services, keeps making the same mistakes, and constantly gave up pressures that contributed to making Sam Howell the league's most sacked quarterback during the previous campaign.

There were some bright moments, but it was largely underwhelming. That said, Buday's opinion is shared by Washington's new regime, which appears to be giving Wylie another shot at proving himself despite the incredible roster upheaval implemented by general manager Adam Peters throughout the offseason.

Pro Football Focus can be a divisive outlet. They have their ways of grading players, which has propelled them into the national spotlight quickly. However, the simple eye test for anyone who spent considerable time watching the Commanders in 2023 can tell you first-hand that Wylie is not underrated by any stretch of the imagination.

For all the positive moves made by Peters throughout a busy recruitment period, the Commanders still have some significant concerns about the protection in front of new franchise quarterback Jayden Daniels. This is especially evident on the edge, so if rookie third-round pick Brandon Coleman cannot become a blindside force and Wylie doesn't raise his performance levels, it's not hard to see where the complications could emerge.

Wylie has two years remaining on his deal and counts more than $9 million against the Commanders' salary cap. It didn't much financial sense to remove him from the equation this spring after just one season. But if he cannot provide extra stability at a time when it's needed more than ever, the 2024 campaign will be his last in the nation's capital.

He's been around the game long enough to know what comes next if production doesn't match the financial commitment. Perhaps enhanced options along the protection will help. At the same time, Wylie had an outstanding player next to him last season in the form of Sam Cosmi, who emerged as a shining light and only raised doubt about whether the offensive tackle was up to the task.

It's a clean slate for all and there should be a level of trust attached to the team's decision-making process with Peters leading the charge. But if Wylie becomes a weak link, questions will arise.