A new era of D.C. football begins with the 2022 NFL season. The Washington Football Team is now the Washington Commanders, and fans are hoping for a strong first season under the new brand.
Washington’s roster looks a little different than last year. The Commanders brought in Carson Wentz as their new signal-caller, to mixed results in camp so far. They also accomplished their main goal of the offseason by signing star receiver Terry McLaurin to a massive extension.
Ron Rivera’s squad kicks off the preseason on Saturday against his former team, the Carolina Panthers. With Washington returning to the field so soon, the team released its first depth chart of the 2022 season. The Commanders don’t have too many surprises on their first depth chart, but there are still a few.
Biggest surprises from Ron Rivera’s first Commanders 2022 depth chart
3. Trai Turner RG1
This move is more of a mild surprise than a true shocker. Washington lost former All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff to free agency this offseason, leaving a hole on the line. Many expected Wes Schweitzer to take the starting job, but the team also brought in Turner to compete for the role.
Based on last season, Schweitzer was easily the better guard when healthy. He only played in 11 games and started five, but he earned a 78.7 grade from Pro Football Focus when he played. Turner started all 17 games for Pittsburgh, but earned a much lower 69.4 grade from PFF.
Scweitzer also has the longevity in his favor, as he is entering his third season with Washington. However, Turner knows the system as well, thanks to his six seasons under Rivera in Carolina. On top of that, he made the Pro Bowl in five of those seasons.
While Schweitzer is likely the safer pick, Turner has more potential if he can return to form. Wentz needs all the help he can get, and a lineman the caliber of Turner in his prime will certainly help. If he doesn’t improve, though, Schweitzer could find himself back in a starting role soon.
2. CB3 Competition
Washington’s secondary was a key weak point on the team last season. The team allowed 254.9 passing yards per game, the fourth-most in the entire league. The Commanders needed to address the issue in the offseason, but they didn’t.
Kendall Fuller and William Jackson III make up a decent cornerback duo when healthy, but there isn’t much behind them. Right now, the Commanders’ third corner is Benjamin St-Juste, a 2021 third-round pick from Minnesota. The players behind him are mostly unproven players, including Danny Johnson, Corn Elder and Troy Apke.
St-Juste being in this position isn’t too surprising, he has more experience with the team than other options. Rather, the move is a surprise in the sense that the Commanders ignored such a key need in the offseason.
1. Cam Sims WR6
Sims being so low on the depth chart is easily the most head-scratching placement. The third-year receiver from Alabama has never been a star, but he has been a solid option for Washington. Through three seasons, he has 49 receptions for 715 yards and three touchdowns.
However, two second-year players are ahead of Sims on the depth chart. Dyami Brown, a third-round pick from North Carolina, had 12 catches for 165 yards in his rookie season. Dax Milne, a seventh-rounder from BYU, had just nine catches for 83 yards last season.
The reason for Sims being so low is likely that Washington wants to see what it has in its young receivers, but that reasoning doesn’t hold up well. Sims is only one year older than Brown and Milne, and has shown better production so far. There aren’t many true surprises on the Commanders’ depth chart, but this is easily the biggest one.