Every season, new stars emerge across the NFL. Some are expected, some are not. Every NFL team has breakout players. Which player for the Washington Commanders will have a breakout season in 2023?
Since Dotson is such a popular choice, we look at five other Commanders who could be potential breakout players in 2023.
QB Sam Howell
This one is easy. Expectations aren’t too high for Howell outside of Washington. However, fans believe the Commanders have found their franchise quarterback. That remains to be seen, but there are plenty of reasons to think Howell can be a breakout player for Washington.
In offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Howell has a play-caller that has built an offense around things the quarterback does well. The Commanders also have plenty of playmakers in the backfield and wide receiver, so he will have help. If Howell is protected well by a questionable offensive line, he could be in line for a big season.
RG Sam Cosmi
Sam Cosmi enters his third NFL season in 2023. After two years at right tackle, Cosmi moved permanently to guard this offseason. He has the size and athleticism to be a Pro Bowl guard. Cosmi sometimes struggled in pass protection at tackle but could dominate as a run blocker. Staying healthy has been a problem for him. He and Saahdiq Charles — another promising player with issues remaining healthy — could be an outstanding guard duo. The key word is could.
Cosmi is the perfect guard for Bieniemy’s offense and will thrive on the move.
LB Jamin Davis
After struggling as a rookie in 2021, the former first-round pick took a big step forward in 2022. However, the Commanders want more from Davis and believe he’s capable of much more. If Davis plays like a first-round pick, he significantly makes Washington’s defense that much better. The linebacker position is a question mark for the Commanders, but Davis can change that.
I would almost count the 2022 season as a breakout campaign for cornerback Benjamin St-Juste. However, he missed too many games. Just as St-Juste was hitting his stride midseason, he injured his ankle and missed five of the final six games. This was after ending his rookie season on IR due to concussions.
The Commanders have the 6-foot-3 St-Juste slated to play more in the slot this season. While he’s proven to be better on the outside, that’s where Washington needs St-Juste in 2023. Wherever he plays, if healthy, St-Juste can be a terrific cornerback. Much of the focus will be on rookie Emmanuel Forbes, but watch out for St-Juste.
Here’s the problem I have with placing second-year safety Percy Butler on this list: He doesn’t have a defined position. Darrick Forrest and Kamren Curl are the starting safeties — and good ones. Forrest was Washington’s breakout defender last year, and Butler looks poised to follow a similar trajectory. Butler can fill in at safety, nickel, or play the important Buffalo nickel position. Wherever he plays, his combination of speed and aggressiveness makes him an intriguing player for the Commanders. Watch out for Butler in 2023.