It’s no secret that Ron Rivera left the cupboards pretty bare in Washington. The Commanders, who finished the 2023 season with just four wins, have a bottom-of-the-league roster when it comes to both overall talent and quality players at the Big Five positions (QB, OT, EDGE, CB and WR). I will go so far as to say that maybe only the Patriots are worse, and even that can be debated.
The dark cloud that continues to hang over this franchise may be beginning to dissipate just a bit though, allowing fans to see small glimpses of sunlight.
That sunlight comes in the form of a new ownership group led by the progressive Josh Harris, and a new general manager in Adam Peters. Hope for the future has now been entrusted into the hands of Dan Quinn, who will lead this team on the field for the foreseeable future. The hires Quinn makes to his staff on the offensive side of the ball will have the attention of the league, as Washington looks to fight its way back up to respectability. Having Kliff Kingsbury as the new offensive coordinator is a very good start.
Below, I will take a look at the roster and see where we need to add talent this offseason. Hint: It’s pretty much everywhere!
The Big Five:
QB - Last year’s starter, Sam Howell, regressed as the 2023 season went on, and it’s now pretty clear that he’s not the guy to lead this franchise into the next chapter.
OT - The blindside protector has become invaluable in the NFL. The opposite side has also grown in importance over the last 10 years. The Commanders are a team that has neither. Charles Leno is replacement-level and Andrew Wylie should be on the street.
EDGE - Most teams in the NFL have at least one competent EGDE rusher. After trading away their two starters mid-season, Washington now has none. Some will argue if Chase Young was even considered “competent”, however that’s a conversation for another day. Right now, this team is full of JAGS and developmental guys at this extremely important spot.
CB - Washington fans thought they were getting a lock-down CB1 in rookie Emmanuel Forbes. What they ended up getting was an emaciated, confidence-lacking (after Del Rio broke him), poor tackling speed-bump. Benjamin St-Juste fared a bit better, but on a good team, he’s probably your third- or fourth-best at the position. Kendall Fuller, the teams’ best corner, is set to be a free agent.
WR - Terry McLaurin is the consummate professional and a guy any general manager in the league would like to have on their football team. However, he’s over-valued by fans of the team, and he’s certainly not a top 10 talent league-wide at the position. He can be a great producer, but he needs someone opposite of him to take away some of that pressure - and right now Washington does not have that.
The rest of the roster...
The rest of the current Commanders roster, not counting the pending free agents below, is barren of talent.
- Kendall Fuller
- Kam Curl
- Curtis Samuels
- Antonio Gibson
- Jacoby Brissett
- Khaleke Hudson
- Cody Barton
- Saahdiq Charles
- Tyler Larsen
- James Smith-Williams
- Casey Toohill
- Efe Obada
- Jeremy Reaves
- Jamison Crowder
- Byron Pringle
- David Mayo
- Joey Slye
- LB Jabril Cox (restricted free agent)
- S Terrell Burgess (restricted free agent)
Quarterback - Sam Howell may be a great back-up to have, but when you have gone as long as Washington has without a true franchise player at the most important position, it gets a bit tiring. There are no top 10 players in this room.
Running Back - Our running back room, which will feature Brian Robinson and Chris Rodriguez, is average at best. There are no top 10 players among this group.
Wide Receiver - Terry McLaurin is a great ambassador of the game and a player any team would love to have. He hasn’t proven to be a true game-changer in the mold of CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson or the like, but he’s darn good. Behind him lies a lot of question marks. Former first round pick Jahan Dotson had a significant sophomore slump and may not be the go-to player he was drafted to become. If Curtis Samuel departs via free agency, the room is very empty. Washington has no top 10 player at their respective position among this group.
Tight End - there is not a tight end on this roster who would start for another NFL team. Logan Thomas is a cut candidate, John Bates is a JAG and Cole Turner has shown nothing to date. There are no top 10 players among this group.
Offensive Line - Sam Cosmi is the only legitimate starter among this group. Ricky Stromberg may grow into one, but for now that is just hope. Charles Leno, Andrew Wylie, Chris Paul and Nick Gates are all replacement-level. There are no top 10 players at their respective positions among this group.
Interior Defensive Line - This is by far the strongest unit on the team. The likes of Daron Payne, Jon Allen and John Ridgeway can stand up to any unit in the league. Phidarian Mathis is one to watch in 2024, as he’s yet to live up to his second round draft status. Daron Payne would be a top 10 player at his position. Jonathan Allen would fall just outside the top 10.
EDGE - What once was a strength has now become a MAJOR weakness. There are no starting-caliber players on the current roster. There are no top 10 players in this room.
Linebacker - Jamin Davis was actually playing the best football of his career before getting injured. This team has nothing else outside of him. There are no top 10 players in this group.
Defensive Back - This is another glaring weakness of the Commanders. Ron Rivera spent the team’s top two draft picks in 2023 on the secondary with little-to-no benefit. The hope is that better coaching can get this unit to play at a much higher level. Washington does not have a top 10 player at their respective position within this group.
Washington will enter the 2024 league year with the most cap space among all the teams in the NFL. Estimates have the Commanders between $70-80M in cap with the ability to create even more with some strategic cuts.
The 2024 NFL Draft:
With six picks in the top 102, including the number two overall selection, Washington is in position to be able to add an infusion of youth and talent to this barren roster. Quarterback, left tackle, EDGE and tight end should be priorities during the first two days of the draft. Currently holding five picks within these three rounds, and now having a real general manager in Adam Peters making the call, the future is looking up.
I currently rank this roster as the second-worst in the NFL. As I mentioned above, we not only are severely lacking blue-chip talent, but we lack it within the Big-Five.
The damage Ron Rivera did to this team over the past four years will not be easy to fix. Having a competent GM in the house is a great start, but Peters will need to add some talent in free agency, then be very strategic as to how we approach the draft come April, if we want to put a competitive team on the field in 2024.
The bad part is, we have a lot of work to do to get this roster back to respectability. The good part is, we have a lot of tools in the tool-belt to begin this re-build the right way!
It’s the dawn of a new day in Washington. Let’s hope the sun shines down on this franchise a bit brighter than the past 20+ years.
Where do you rank Washington current roster
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