Here’s the updated chart:
The numbers that appear beside some players’ names are 2022 cap hits per Over the Cap.
Please note that assigned positions and color coding are my own personal opinions. They do not necessarily represent the thinking of Washington’s coaches or front office, nor are they necessarily consistent with fan consensus. This chart represents my interpretation, and may not reflect the thoughts of other writers on Hogs Haven. Finally, when it comes to backup players, I don’t put much effort into making sure that they are on the right or left or behind the specific player that they backup. I mostly just try to fit everyone on the chart efficiently.
Washington now has 75 players (excluding Landon Collins, who is officially part of the team until June 1). There are 38 offensive players, 33 defensive players, and 4 specialists (the team has two kickers at the moment).
The position that jumps out at me on this chart is the Nickel Back. Ron Rivera said during Saturday’s post-draft press conference that the players drafted in the first 4 rounds all had the opportunity to play and contribute immediately. He went on to specifically talk about Percy Butler competing at b;oth the Nickel and Free Safety positions. Given that the team has two veteran free safeties already, I have put Butler in the nickel spot.
Even before Rivera spoke, however, STILLASkinsFan pointed out in the comments section of an earlier article that the 5’0”, 194 pound rookie might be ideally suited to the position, adding a tweet from Chris Trapasso to support his point:
Explosive FS who will come down and lay the lumber. Missed tackles appear on film but he counters that with the ability to man the slot too, which is a huge plus to his game. Vertical speed to carry those routes deep downfield. Starting-caliber frame. (Chris Trapasso)
Consider these comments from Ron Rivera:
He’ll compete at a couple spots. Nickel will be one of them and safety will be the other one because of his skillset and the things that he does. He’s a guy that has a specific skillset that we really feel is very intriguing. First of all, he has got tremendous speed and quickness. He’s a guy that’s gonna not just help us as a defensive player, but he will also contribute on special teams. I think this is a guy that can help make an immediate impact for us.
And these from Martin Mayhew:
He’s fast. He’s physical, he’s got versatility. He can play the nickel. He can play free safety. He brings a lot to the table.
Ron Rivera also talked a lot about TE Cole Turner. I listed him behind John Bates on the chart, but if Logan Thomas is unable to play at the beginning of the season, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Turner on the field as the primary pass catching tight end. At 6’6” and 246 pounds, he is a converted wide receiver who has an incredible catch radius and the ability to provide Carson Wentz with a huge target. Even when Logan Thomas is healthy, I won’t be shocked to see Turner on the field often, providing an alternative to the team’s mostly-6-ft-tall receiving group.
Sam Howell was taken in the 5th round, and you don’t have to be a Commanders fan to think that represents great value. In the post-draft press conference, Ron Rivera was very careful in his comments about Howell, stressing that the pecking order is Wentz, Heinicke, Howell, and that the rookie is a long-term project who will not only be behind Wentz, but behind Heinicke as well.
Two days ago I mentioned that I struggled a bit with where to write Jahan Dotson’s name. I think he and Curtis Samuel will both see time in the slot, and there’s a good argument that Dotson should be listed as the z-receiver. I chose to put him in the slot on this chart, but that’s a ‘preliminary’ decision that can be revisited as it becomes clearer how the coaching staff intend to use him. The decision to list him as a slot receiver initially was driven in part by Rivera’s comments about Dotson’s abilities in the middle of the field.
The immediate focus will shift to undrafted college free agents, and while Rivera said the team would be bringing in “5 or 10” UDFAs, I expect the number to be more like 10 or 12. That said, from a roster impact standpoint, I think the more significant moves will be in veteran free agency this week and next.
The team remains thin at linebacker, DB, defensive line and OL. I would expect at least two or three significant (but possibly low-cost) veteran free agents to be signed. Of course, the possibility is there for a reunion with Ereck Flowers or Landon Collins. I have mentioned in previous articles my interest in guard Oday Aboushi and linebacker Alexander Johnson. There has been a lot of speculation about former Carolina Panthers DT Star Lotulelei. Some people have even tossed out higher profile players like Tyrann Mathieu. These are all just darts thrown at the board; like predicting who the Commanders will draft, predicting specific free agent signings is probably a foolish task, but regardless of the specific players signed, it seems almost certain that the Commanders will sign several veteran free agents in the next week or two to beef up the roster.
It’s easy to see the overall shape of the Commanders roster now, but the finishing touches are still to come. It will be a week or two before the 90-man training camp roster is set, and even then, there will probably be some end-of-the-roster churn in June and July before camp begins.