The Washington Commanders have selected former Tar Heel quarterback Sam Howell in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. Howell finally heard his name called two days after a historic first round of the draft transpired, which saw six wide receivers get picked, as well as five Georgia Bulldogs. The only quarterback to hear his name called last night was Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now Howell will join him in the pros in hopes of making a name for himself with his new team.
Sam Howell left the University of North Carolina holding 27 school records as a quarterback. He also is third in ACC history in career passing touchdowns (92), but had the most that a player who played three or fewer seasons has ever recorded. Howell finished his Tar Heel career with 10,283 total passing yards, 92 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions. He averaged 9.2 yards per pass, and connected with 63.8% of his passes. His best passing season was 2020, when he completed 68.1% of his attempts, which played a heavy hand in him holding the school record for both season and career passing efficiency.
Last season, Howell became the most dangerous form of himself when he embraced the run. Mostly out of necessity than choice, Howell recorded 828 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns during his junior campaign, eclipsing his 146 yards and 5 touchdowns from the year prior. Howell has developed into a true dual threat, which certainly gained the attention of NFL scouts. He proved to be the ultimate competitor during his time at Carolina, and the record books will reflect that for years to come.
The big questions for Howell going into the NFL involve his ability to go through all of his progressions, but also how he will be able to adjust to non-Air Raid type schemes. We saw Howell run a lot after only going through one or two reads, and I feel like it was largely due to the lack of talent at the receiver position during his junior season. He will have to prove that to be the case once he gets into the NFL, because it’s impossible to be successful unless you are going through all of your options and making the right play. As far as scheme goes, Howell spent as close to 100% of his college career in the shotgun as one could possibly get. There were certain goal line sets that were dialed up that sent him under center, but it remains to be seen how well he would do in singleback/I-formations. Probably a big nothing burger, but the downside to Phil Longo’s Air Raid scheme is we just never got to see Howell do anything else. Ah, the joys of college football.
Unknowns aside, I think Howell has a chance to be successful in the NFL, and hopefully this was the right landing spot for him. What do you think of Howell’s new home? Let us know in the comments below.