Sam Howell Draft Pick a 'Home Run' for Commanders After Wentz Trade, Ron Rivera Says

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 30, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 03: Sam Howell #QB07 of  North Carolina throws during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 03, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Washington Commanders selected UNC quarterback Sam Howell with the No. 144 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft on Saturday.

Head coach Ron Rivera spoke with reporters afterward about the move, which comes nearly two months after Washington traded for Indianapolis Colts signal-caller Carson Wentz to be their QB1.

"We didn't think he would slide to us," Rivera said, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post.

"...Once we got Carson as our starter, we got off the QB train for the most part. ...To have Sam fall to us was something we had to jump on. ...We feel this is a home run for us."

Rivera also said he spoke with Wentz after the Howell pick and that the selection was about developing the ex-UNC star.

Taylor Heinecke, who was Washington's starter last year, will still be the team's backup in 2022. Washington sees Howell as more of a long-term, developmental player at the moment.

Howell doesn't appear to be replacing Wentz any time soon, and signs point to him being QB3 on the depth chart in 2022.

Things could get a little more interesting in 2023. If the Wentz experiment doesn't work out, then the Commanders can release him without any amassing any dead money on the salary cap next season. That could put Howell in line to move up the depth chart in Washington.

Ultimately, there's still some uncertainty at the Commanders' quarterback position. In 2021 with the Indianapolis Colts, Wentz bounced back from a tough 2020 season that saw him get benched to end his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, his time with Colts didn't end well either, with Wentz struggling in the team's final two games as the squad fell out of playoff contention.

Of course, Wentz could find the magic that he once experienced with the Eagles when he helped lead them to a Super Bowl win during the 2017 season in which he was in the MVP conversation before suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee in December.

In that scenario, Howell would obviously stick around Washington to continue his development and act as insurance.

Overall, it appears that Washington got a steal in Howell for where it picked him. The B/R NFL Scouting Department gave him a Round 3 grade and offered a pro comparison to the Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts. He's also 56th overall on The Athletic's consensus big board.

And now he's a Commander as Washington looks to bounce back from a 7-10 season.