Today’s final look at the Washington Commanders newest players focuses on quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. There are nine new players in all, and several should give the Commanders a very different look on offense in 2022.
Analyzing the Commanders’ offensive newcomers
Carson Wentz, QB, 6’5”, 237, 29 years old: acquired by trade, 3/16
I’ll be writing more about Wentz in the coming weeks, so let’s keep it simple. The lion’s share of Washington’s success in 2022 will depend on how the starting quarterback performs. At his best, Wentz has shown he can be an upper echelon QB. He is coming off a couple of difficult seasons and there are a lot of doubters out there. But unless his confidence is a total trainwreck, he will constitute a major upgrade at the most important position on the field.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: plays all 17 games, 65% completion, 3,600 yards, 32 TDs, 12 INTs, 100 RTG (this is not that far off from his career numbers, especially if you toss out the disastrous 2020 season)
Sam Howell, QB, 6/1”, 220, 21 years old: drafted in 5th round, 2022, signed 5/6/22
Howell had hoped to be picked before the 5th round, but he may have ended up in a perfect spot. He will be able to sit behind a veteran for a year or two before having to prove whether he is the franchise QB some believe him to be. As the youngest player on the roster, this should help him make the transition to the NFL. This may not be an Alex Smith/Patrick Mahomes dynamic, but we can always dream…
BEST CASE SCENARIO: For the team, the best case is that Howell only see the field for some mop up duty late in the season. Stats don’t figure into this. If he doesn’t look overwhelmed when he gets on the field, that’s a win.
Cole Kelley, QB, 6’7”, 250, 24 years old: signed as UDFA, 5/2
Kelley has a big arm and will be a developmental QB this season. The last time the Washington Commanders invested in a big raw talent like this, it didn’t amount to anything. When decision-time came, Steven Montez was bypassed by the most reliable Taylor Heinicke, and the team moved on from Montez shortly thereafter. Kelley just needs a couple of years to show if he has NFL-level talent.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Kelley should not see the field after pre-season in 2022. Whether that means practice squad, or the nominal 3rd strong QB (in the event that Heinicke is dealt), it really doesn’t matter. As long as he is able to continue his development…
Reggie Bonafon RB, 6’0”, 215, 26 years old: signed to future contract 1/11
Bonafon is an intriguing prospect, especially considering the fact that Washington’s top two RBs last year were Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic. Like them, Bonafon was a WR in college before transitioning to RB. Actually, he began his career at Louisville as the Cardinals’ quarterback, but when some new guy named Lamar Jackson arrived, Bonafon began switching positions. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but his positional flexibility might be his secret weapon.
BEST CASE SCENARIO: Practice squad. Bonafon essentially outduels veteran Jonathan Williams to win the role of emergency backup in the event of multiple injuries to the Commanders’ front line RBs.