SNIDER: Commanders got Wentz, but keep staring at quarterbacks


The Washington Commanders are still scouting quarterbacks and that's not a bad thing.

Sure, Washington traded for Carson Wentz as this season's starter. But what about next year? The next decade? Can the Commanders find a franchise passer with the 11th overall pick on April 28?

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Sure, the team needs another cornerback, middle linebacker and receiver. But these are chess pieces. The king is still the central figure and Washington has regularly missed on passers. Even when having a franchise passer like Brad Johnson (1999) and Kirk Cousins (2012-17), the team failed to recognize and retain them.

It has been a generation lost no matter how good the defense or sometimes offense was. Without a quarterback, maybe one team per decade can win a Super Bowl. If Washington thinks it has the future passer on the draft board, it can't pass on him just because Wentz is here, too. Given persistent injuries to Washington quarterbacks, it needs a second passer anyway. Taylor Heinicke is a solid reliever, but having a second ace sometimes saves seasons. The Commanders can always develop the rookie and trade him.

Coach Ron Rivera and staff scouted Liberty's Malik Willis and Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder during their pro days. Willis is likely gone before Washington picks, but there are enough options to even look into the second round. After all, history shows first-round passers have mostly a 50/50 chance of success at best. Washington can hedge a bit and wait until the second round.

Wentz could be Washington's best passer since Cousins threw for 4,000 yards annually from 2015-17. The problem was Cousins' stats were empty calories that looked good on paper but didn't win enough games, especially in prime time.

Allegations that Wentz would become unnerved should Washington draft his successor, as he supposedly did when Philadelphia chose Jalen Hurts as a 2020 second-rounder, are overrated. First, that has been regularly disputed. Second, Wentz has since played well in Indianapolis so he's more mature and can handle change better. Third, he's in no position to balk like Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers when the Packers selected Jordan Love in 2020. Just stare at the defenses and not the bench.

Washington needs a second receiver to emerge between Curtis Samuel, Cam Sims or Dyami Brown, or draft one. If there's a Ja'Marr Chase on the board, grab him. Otherwise, a tight end is equally important because Wentz throws regularly to them. A good tight end can devastate a defense. Washington has been on the wrong end of that for years.

The Commanders need an inside linebacker and another defensive back and there will be good ones available, but Rivera has spent two years unsuccessfully trying to recreate the 1985 Chicago Bears. It's time to join the modern NFL and play offense.

And if that means a rookie quarterback is the right pick, then draft him regardless of Wentz.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.

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