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Key takeaways from GM Martin Mayhew's Combine press conference


Washington Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew addressed the media at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier today. Here are some key takeaways from his press conference.

1. He echoed much of Rivera's statements about finding a quarterback.

Finding a quarterback is a big piece of the puzzle. It's an obvious statement, but it's also one that the Commanders need to address as they roll through their offseason.

Like head coach Ron Rivera, Mayhew said the team is looking at all avenues to find a signal-caller. There's not a consensus No. 1, like there has been in years past, and that much is clear by the mock drafts that have come out in recent weeks. Some believe it's Kenny Pickett, while others are supporting Malik Willis or another option. 

Mayhew does believe that some of the prospects will separate themselves from the rest this week.

"We are looking to address it now, if possible," Mayhew said of the quarterback position. "That's where our focus is."

Mayhew also took time to praise Taylor Heinicke, saying that he did "yeoman's work" replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick. With that said, the Commanders are looking to upgrade the position, and all angles are still on the table.

2. He thinks highly of Antonio Gibson.

In just two years, Antonio Gibson has established himself as one of the Commanders' best offensive weapons. He scored 21 touchdowns in that span, and he wrapped up his first 1,000-rushing yard season in 2021.

All that is even more impressive considering that Gibson has dealt with lower body injuries at various points of his young career. He fought through them, though, and it has earned Mayhew's respect.

"He's one of the toughest guys on our team as well," Mayhew said.

Gibson, who only switched to the running back position full time two years ago, saw his usage double in 2021. He carried the ball 258 times, which was the fourth-most among all running backs last season. That uptick in attempts paid off, too; his 1,037 yards were the sixth-most in the league.

It'll be interesting to see Gibson's next steps. Washington hasn't had a running back record consecutive 1,000-yard seasons since Alfred Morris in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Either way, Mayhew seems confident with Gibson in the Commanders' backfield.

"He's very important moving forward," Mayhew said.

3. He feels confident about the Commanders' wide receivers.

The Commanders invested heavily in wide receiver last year by bringing in Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries in free agency as well as Dyami Brown and Dax Milne in the draft. There were high hopes for the position, but injuries played a role in disrupting those plans.

The group is full of young talent, though, which is why Mayhew still likes the Commanders' situation at the position.

"We feel good about our group of wideouts right now," Mayhew said. "We think Dyami Brown is gonna be better. We're trying to get Cam Sims back. We expect big things from Dax Milne and Terry McLaurin.”

Mayhew also mentioned Samuel, who he said didn't have a great season because of injury. Samuel only appeared in five games and caught six passes for 27 yards. The expectation is that Samuel will be healthy in 2022, and Mayhew believes he will have a bounce back performance.

Mayhew still wants to improve the position, but it sounds like the core will stay the same moving forward.

4. Speed is a priority for Mayhew at linebacker.

The Commanders addressed the linebacker position last year when they drafted Jamin Davis with the 19th overall pick. But with four players at the position set to be free agents, including veteran Jon Bostic, it's possible they could bolster it again at some point.

Whether it's through the draft or free agency, expect whoever they bring in to have speed.

"Linebackers have to be able to cover," Mayhew said. "There's very few guys now that are two-down run-stopping linebackers."

Back when Mayhew was playing in the 1990s, those types of players were more common. But offenses are continuing to spread the field and becoming pass-dominant, so any linebacker hoping to have a successful NFL career needs to move well in space.

"We need athletes across the board on defense whether you're talking defensive line, linebackers, secondary."

The Commanders feel like they already have a few of those players on their roster. Mayhew didn't name anyone specifically, but names like Davis, Chase Young, Montez Sweat and Cole Holcomb come to mind.

It would seem like the team is covered in that category, but…

"We can always add more to that group," Mayhew said.

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