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Commanders DE K.J. Henry named an early 2024 breakout player

The Washington Commanders have some holes to fill in 2024. The good news for incoming general manager Adam Peters is the Commanders have plenty of salary cap room and some premium draft picks to fill those holes.

While much of the offseason talk surrounding Washington will be on the quarterback position, the Commanders need plenty of help on defense. Washington was terrible defensively in 2023, and the new coaching staff will need to find some pass-rush help.

Perhaps some of that help is already on the roster. K.J. Henry was a fifth-round pick from Clemson in 2023. When the Commanders traded Montez Sweat and Chase Young at the NFL trade deadline in October, Henry’s role increased.

Overall, Henry would play in 10 games as a rookie, including making three starts. He finished his first season with 19 tackles, including four for loss, 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hits.

Could Henry contend for a starting position in 2024?

Pro Football Focus recently named one early breakout candidate for next season, and Henry was that player for Washington.

The Commanders traded away Chase Young and Montez Sweat mid-season, and they are slated to lose both Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams to free agency, leaving a once stellar edge group rather barren. Henry — a fifth-round pick out of Clemson — will be one of the remaining names this offseason and while he didn’t get a ton of opportunity as a rookie, his final year at Clemson was encouraging, where he posted an 84.0 pass-rush grade, 53 pressures and five sacks. Henry could be called upon to play a much larger role in 2024 for the Commanders.

Peters will address the defensive end position likely in free agency and the NFL draft. How much will he invest in the position? The Commanders will look very different next season but Henry should be a part of Washington’s defensive end rotation.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire