The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.
The Washington Commanders are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for having the easiest strength of schedule in 2022, but that doesn't mean they'll be facing a lack of talent in Ron Rivera’s third season.
It's true that the Commanders will face teams with some of the worst records in 2021. There are also a few playoff teams on the schedule as well, such as the Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles.
No matter how each team finished last season, all of them have at least a handful of players who could give Washington problems. So, for the next six weeks, Commanders.com will be looking at the top players the team will face at each position.
After starting with the running backs, next up are the cornerbacks.
Jaire Alexander, Green Bay Packers
There are plenty of high expectations for the Green Bay Packers' defense in 2022, and a lot of that hinges around how Alexander performs.
Alexander (5-foot-10, 196 pounds) is considered by many to be one of the most well-rounded corners in the league today, despite his stature. While the Packers incorporate more zone coverage, Alexander also holds his own in man coverage, which has helped him record 44 career pass breakups.
An AC injury in Week 4 prevented Alexander from playing until the divisional round of the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers, but his performance indicates that he is cementing himself as one of the best in the position. In 2020, the last time he played more than four games, he received a career-high 90.5 overall grade, anchored by a 90.6 cover grade, and earned his first Pro Bowl vote as well as second team All-Pro honors.
Terry McLaurin named Alexander as one of the best cornerbacks that he's faced in his career, so he and the rest of the Commanders' wide receivers will be up for a challenge in Week 7.
Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles
Another player that McLaurin knows well, Slay hasn't put up the stats that he had when he was with the Detroit Lions for seven seasons. He's one of the more experienced players on this list, but he's still considered in the upper class of corners in the league.
Slay, who recorded 52 tackles, nine pass breakups and three interceptions in 2021, recorded a career-high 83.9 overall grade, according to PFF, and performed near the top in several categories, including yards allowed per outside-coverage snap (0.79) and percentage of outside targets to result in a first down or touchdown (29.4%).
"He played far less at the line of scrimmage and worked in off-zone more than in any other season of his tenure, and it paid dividends," wrote PFF’s Anthony Treash.
While the Commanders' receiving corps is talented, many of them have been in the league for less than four seasons. Slay's veteran experience should be an interesting matchup for the group.
This week, our rookie class embarked on a bus tour to visit the historical sights of Washington D.C. As a part of the Rookie Community Club, the goal of this trip was to introduce the players to their new home in the Nation's Capital and to pay tribute to our Nation's history. The tour highlighted the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, where players were offered the chance to interact with the community and be present in the spaces where Martin Luther King Jr.'s impact on social justice has lead us to today. (Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)
Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
While he has yet to play a full season since he was drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in 2018, Ward has had several moments where he's lived up to being picked with such high draft capital.
Ward, who had three interceptions in 2021, one of which was returned 99 yards for a touchdown, thrives in one-on-one matchups. According to PFF, he ranks second among cornerbacks in single coverage grade, first in catch rate allowed (36.0%) and second in yards per target (5.37) since joining the NFL.
"He sticks to his receiver like glue and won't get beat deep thanks to his speed," Treash wrote.
Washington, which has plenty of speedy wideouts on their roster, should have the tools to test that notion. Either way, the receivers will likely need to prepare to make plenty of contested catches once they see Ward in Week 17.
A.J. Terrell, Atlanta Falcons
There were a lot of things to dislike about the Atlanta Falcons' defense last year. A.J. Terrell, who is entering his third season, was not one of them.
Terrell, taken 16th overall by Atlanta in 2020, may not have gotten the national hype that Trevon Diggs received, but he did experience a similar leap. His pass breakups jumped from seven in 2020 to 16 in 2021. He also recorded 81 tackles, which ranked fifth among all corners, and led the team with three interceptions.
What's truly impressive is how few yards he allowed per cover snap. He paced the league with .37 yards, which for reference is one-hundredth shy of a PFF record made by Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha.
Perhaps the Falcons' defense will improve in 2022, but finding a way around Terrell will go a long way towards helping the Commanders secure a win in Week 12.
Kenny Moore II, Indianapolis Colts
Many Commanders fans might not know who Moore is, but make no mistake: the sixth-year pro has been a talented, reliable piece of the Colts' defense.
Moore has developed a habit of shattering his personal records. He posted a career-high four interceptions and 13 pass breakups along with 80 tackles in 2020, and followed that up with another four-interception, 13-pass breakup performance in 2021 and had 102 tackles, which was second among all corners.
This time, however, he was awarded with a Pro Bowl vote for his performance. It's not a bad accomplishment for a player who started as an undrafted free agent.
"I've been doubted for so long, but I keep that chip on my shoulder each game," Moore told NFL Network.
CBS Sports’ Patrik Walker wrote that Moore "doesn't make business decisions when it's time to tackle someone." It'll be a physical test for the Commanders' wideouts in Week 8.