Four Rookies Projected to Start for Commanders in 2024

Luke McCaffrey

Getty Washington Commanders wide receiver Luke McCaffrey.

If the Washington Commanders are going to turn things around in 2024 and beyond, they’ll need to do it with a large amount of production coming from the younger players on the roster.

Those younger players might get a chance to prove their worth sooner than later.

PFF’s Dalton Wasserman and Jim Wyman have four rookies projected as starters for the Commanders in 2024 on their breakdown of starting lineups for all 32 teams.

PFF have the Commanders rookie starters as quarterback Jayden Daniels, wide receiver Luke McCaffrey, defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton and cornerback Mike Sainristil.

Daniels is the centerpiece of the group as the No. 2 overall pick but still hasn’t been named the starter — the Commanders signed veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota to a 1-year, $6 million contract in the offseason as an insurance policy.

In all, PFF had 11 starters listed for the Commanders who weren’t on the roster in 2023.

Breaking Down Washington’s Rookies on Offense

Daniels could be one of the NFL’s elite dual-threat quarterbacks from the start — he rushed for over 1,000 yards at LSU in 2023 on the way to winning the Heisman Trophy.

McCaffrey, 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, was a surprise pick in the third round (No. 1oo overall) out of Rice and has a unique opportunity to play alongside one of the NFL’s most respected veteran wide receivers in Terry McLaurin and an up-and-coming young player in 2022 first-round pick Jahan Dotson.

McCaffrey started his college career as a quarterback at Nebraska before switching positions to wide receiver at Rice in 2022.

The son of three-time Super Bowl champion wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, Luke McCaffrey had 58 receptions for 732 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first season at wide receiver. in 2023, he had a breakout year with 71 receptions for 992 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on the way to earning All-AAC honors.

Breaking Down Washington’s Rookies on Defense

Both of the projected rookie starters for for Washington in 2023 were Big Ten stars in 2023.

Defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton was a second-round pick (No. 36 overall) and is coming off his second foot surgery in the last year. Newton was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year at Illinois in 2023 with 52 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 12 games.

Sainristil was the leader on one of the best teams in Michigan history in 2023 as the Wolverines went undefeated and won the College Football Playoff national championship. Sainristil earned Associated Press All-American honors was a second-round pick (No. 50 overall).

Sainristil showed a knack for making big plays in 2023 with 2 forced fumbles and 6 interceptions for 232 return yards, including two returned for touchdowns.

“Reliable and tough with the athleticism and upside to keep getting better as a nickel corner,” NFL analyst Lance Zierlein wrote in his pre-draft evaluation. “Sainristil is a former receiver who plays with surprising field awareness and attention to detail as a zone defender. He has the twitch and footwork to stay connected with routes in man coverage but needs more experience at the position to operate with better recognition and feel for the routes.”

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