There was a heap of hype surrounding Dyami Brown back when the team drafted him in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Washington Commanders needed a deep threat opposite Terry McLaurin, and as one of the best at stretching the field for North Carolina, he was uniquely qualified for the role.
The team did not see much of that for various reasons when Brown was a rookie, but Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans offered the best look at when he can offer to the offense.
Brown led the game with a career-high 105 receiving yards on two catches, both of which were touchdowns. While the 21-17 performance does sully what was a standout day for Brown, it did show that he can be a key contributor when given the opportunity.
"Oh man, it's been a year and a half," Brown said in the locker room of scoring his first NFL touchdown. "But it's a blessing. I'm thankful for it, and it's just the beginning."
The Commanders needed the extra with Jahan Dotson, who is tied for second in the NFL with four receiving touchdowns, out for Sunday's game nursing a hamstring injury. Dotson has shown exceptional quickness as well as a wide catch radius, but he has yet to show off his ability to make explosive plays downfield.
Brown was one of the best deep threats in college football when he was catching passes from Sam Howell at North Carolina. Since 2019, Brown ranked first in yardage on "go-routes" (606) and tied for first in receptions (15) and touchdowns (eight), according to PFF.
Carson Wentz tested that early, and that faith in his receiver paid off. After the defense had forced a three-and-out, Wentz launched a pass downfield to Brown, who had beaten cornerback Caleb Farley on the right side of the field.
Brown brought in the pass at the Titans' 26-yard line and ran the rest of the way for the 75-yard touchdown.
Wentz said it was "awesome" to see Brown succeed, but it was not surprising.
"We've seen him do that all of OTAs, training camp," Wentz said. "If there's anyone on this team, he's been doing that and hats off to him for stepping up."
His second touchdown of the day resulted in fewer yards but had just as much of an impact. With the Commanders down 14-10 in the third quarter, Wentz looked for Brown again at the Titans' 30-yard line. This time, he beat rookie Roger McCreary and made a one-handed grab to help Washington retake the lead.
"It was nice to see Dyami go out and do the things he's capable of, his vertical speed was there, he made a couple of really nice grabs in the game, and it's what we've seen he's capable of doing," head coach Ron Rivera said after the game.
Brown's performance is the best example of the receiver's assertion that Year 2 is going to be different for him after a rookie season that did not live up to his expectations. After getting used to the vast differences between college football and the NFL, Brown came into the 2022 season more confident in his abilities.
"For me, it was just being able to understand how to use my speed," Brown said. "Then there was another thing about just being aggressive and being who I am. A lot of the times, I was being passive just because I was like, 'I'm not sure if I should do it or not.' So, having that understanding of 'just go ahead and go get it.'"
Rivera said that Dotson is expected to miss "a week or two" with his hamstring injury, but there has been no official word on his status for Thursday's game against the Chicago Bears. Dotson's return may influence Brown's usage when he returns, but Wentz brought up this point during his postgame press conference: why not have both?
"I thought he did a fantastic job on those couple of plays today. We feel we got some depth there that always serves us well. Hopefully he can but at the same time we're excited to get Jahan back and we can see them both in."