Rookie camp recap: Notes on Dotson, Howell, Turner and more


Rookie minicamp in the NFL is often disjointed and, for the most part, not that educational. However, Friday's Commanders' practice — which the media was allowed to attend — did offer up a chance to see Washington's 2022 draft class in action for the first time, and with that opportunity came some useful first impressions.

Here's what stood out from the session inside of the team's bubble at their Ashburn, Virginia facility:

  • Jahan Dotson can be described in many words, and almost all of them point to him being an early contributor in the regular season. The rookie receiver is smooth, polished and agile, but there's definitely explosiveness to his game, too. His sticky hands were also immediately apparent, especially during a route-running portion of practice where he speared a Sam Howell pass on a hitch just after turning around. Overall, Dotson already looks prepared to mix it up with the veterans at OTAs and training camp: 
  • As for Howell, he was uneven, which can be expected for a rookie signal-caller in this type of setting; the majority of targets he was working with on Friday won't be on an NFL roster and he hasn't had any time to establish an ounce of chemistry with anyone. Having established that, he had his moments and his growth will be fun to track over the next handful of weeks. The highlight of the evening was probably a deep shot when Howell connected on a corner route toward the right sideline, a throw he dropped in with impressive accuracy. That's supposed to be a hallmark of his and he showed it Friday.
  • One minor gripe about Howell but one that deserves pointing out: He pats the ball before getting rid of it. It's a habit that a lot of QBs have, and at most, the pat delays the release by a split second. Still, it's an obvious tell that he's about to uncork one, and in the pros, defenders could get a better jump on him because of it. It's in his best interests to eliminate that as soon as possible.
  • Third-round running back Brian Robinson Jr. is regarded as a thumper with the ball in his hands, and with that reputation comes a certain picture in one's mind. Robinson Jr., though, was a bit skinnier and much quicker than his scouting report would suggest and, on multiple occasions, displayed soft hands when catching swing passes in drills and 9-on-9 scenarios. Be careful assuming that he's just a three-yards-per-tote, run-over-a-nose-tackle kind of option for the Commanders.

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  • Fourth-rounder Percy Butler is a special teams difference-maker and hard hitter at safety, and those two strengths aren't necessarily going to show up in a get-together like Friday's. Therefore, this right here is the most significant Butler-related development: 
  • Tight end Cole Turner is someone Ron Rivera has enjoyed talking up since the franchise took Turner in the fifth round of the draft, and Turner didn't disappoint in Ashburn. There is no exaggeration with the 6-foot-6 listing Turner's getting on the roster sheets that were handed out to reporters but he moves well for a player of that size. There may be questions about his blocking, but honestly, those questions may not matter if coordinator Scott Turner opts to deploy him as basically a giant wideout and red-zone threat: 
  • Undrafted linebackers Tre Walker and Drew White both made an impact in the 9-on-9, offense-on-defense segment of the practice. Walker batted down a Howell pass with authority while White keyed in on a checkdown in the flat and would've made a large tackle for loss. For a squad that could use additional help at that position, those were encouraging sequences.
  • Lastly, if you spent part of your weekend reading this recap of rookie minicamp, thank you. Sincerely. The 23 of you are very kind for the support. It won't be forgotten.